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Faithlife

A Future Focused Church

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All Christians should be future focused. All churches should be future focused. Let me explain what I mean by future focused.
A church/Christian living for Christ
In there book, Why Churches Die: Diagnosing Lethal Poisons in the Body of Christ, Mac Brunson and Ergun Caner make this observation.
Spiritual atrophy—the deterioration of your spiritual muscles from lack of use—is such an insidious disease and poison that it afflicts virtually every Christian at one time or another… Spiritual atrophy is perhaps the most prevalent spiritual disease in modern Christianity. It is marked by Christians who have had a glorious past, walking with God, serving God, but who have stopped seeking him, stopped serving him, and now their abilities, discernment, and wisdom have lessened.
If the church is going to enter the future strong for the Lord, we must live faithful to Jesus in the present. Our past accomplishments and failures are just that, in the past. What we must focus our minds and hearts on is the present and future of our church. This was Paul’s encouragement to the Christians in the Philippian church.

I. Paul’s Confession to the Church (3:12)

I. Paul’s Confession to the Church (3:12)

Paul was using his own outlook as a way to encourage his readers to “press on” in growing in Christ, expending maximum energy in the cause of Christ. What was his outlook?

A. A Sanctified Dissatisfaction (3:12a)

What has Paul not attained in his life as a Christ follower? Look at verses above to discover the answer. Paul’s goal in life as a follower of Christ is found in verse 8.
Every follower of Jesus should aim for this goal. To know Christ more and more, day by day is the passion of the genuine follower of Jesus. Paul is not talking about attaining salvation, he already knew Christ as Savior. Paul is talking about attaining more sanctification (spiritual growth) in Christ through surrender to Christ’s Lordship in His life.
In order to “press on” or pursue more holiness in his life, Paul had to give up control of his life to Christ. How was Paul to do this? See verses 9-11.
Paul sought to deny himself and take up his cross and follow Jesus.
Luke 9:23 ESV
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Luke
Paul sought to crucify his old man daily.
Romans 6:6 ESV
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
Paul sought to consider himself dead to sin and alive to God.
Romans 6:11 ESV
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Paul sought to be crucified with Christ daily.
Galatians 2:20 ESV
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Folks, we cannot “press on” in spiritual growth until we have a complete dissatisfaction with our current spiritual attainments. The passion for the genuine Christian is to want more Christlikeness every day. Too many believers are self-satisfied with their Christian life. They compare themselves with others and evaluate themselves by this standard. This is why they are not progressing. This is why they are so discouraged, disgusted, frustrated, and exhausted with their lives. They have no sanctified dissatisfaction with their current condition. We must always desire and pursue getting more of Jesus and less of our way, our wants, and our wishes. Paul was determined to do just this.

B. A Sanctified Determination (3:12b)

Paul is determined to “know more of Christ” through his own surrender, sacrifice, and service to Christ.
Paul followed after maturity in Christ, his God-given purpose. When Christ saved Paul, that was just the beginning, not the end. He had been saved to live for Christ and serve Christ, and as long as he was on this earth he was going to do just that. The words “press on” means to pursue the finish-line like a runner in a race. There was no place for walking, much less for sitting or lying around in comfort, complacency and lethargy.
Paul was going to do all he knew to do and could do in growing to be more like Jesus.
1 Corinthians 9:24–27 ESV
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:24
Are you pressing on after Christ—or are you comfortable with you present Christian experience? PRESS ON to Jesus!!!

II. Paul’s Counsel to the Church (3:13-14)

The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Eight: Let’s Win the Race! (Philippians 3:12–16)

“One thing” is a phrase that is important to the Christian life. “One thing thou lackest,” said Jesus to the self-righteous rich young ruler (Mark 10:21). “One thing is needful,” He explained to busy Martha when she criticized her sister (Luke 10:42). “One thing I know!” exclaimed the man who had received his sight by the power of Christ (John 9:25). “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after!” testified the psalmist (Ps. 27:4). Too many Christians are too involved in “many things,” when the secret of progress is to concentrate on “one thing.” It was this decision that was a turning point in D.L. Moody’s life. Before the tragedy of the Chicago fire in 1871, Mr. Moody was involved in Sunday School promotion, Y.M.C.A. work, evangelistic meetings, and many other activities; but after the fire, he determined to devote himself exclusively to evangelism. “This one thing I do!” became a reality to him. As a result, millions of people heard the Gospel.

Paul’s “one thing” is divided into two parts:

A. The Devotion of the Christian Life (3:13)

The Christian life is like a race, a marathon not a sprint. We are in Christ for the “long haul.” How do we suceed in spiritual growth?
The believer should be future-oriented, “forgetting what lies behind” us we go forward. Please keep in mind that in Bible terminology, “to forget” does not mean to “fail to remember.” Apart from senility, hypnosis, or brain malfunction, no mature person can forget what has happened in the past. We may wish we could erase certain bad memories, but we cannot. “To forget” in the Bible means “no longer to be influenced by or affected by.” When God promises, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (), He is not suggesting that He will conveniently have a bad memory! This is impossible with God. What God is saying is, “I will no longer hold their sins against them. Their sins can no longer affect their standing with Me or influence My attitude toward them.
We, like Paul, must put our past behind us. We must learn to forgive others, and ourselves of past hurts and simply determine to move forward. We must not let our past continue to influence our present. It is a new day, so let us move forward!

B. The Direction of the Christian Life (3:14)

Paul was putting all past failures and accomplishments resolutely behind him and set his sights on a new target, “the prize.” What is the prize which Paul made his goal? Like running a marathon race, Paul wanted to be way out front, more advanced, than the other runners. He saw his finishline and the prize which awaited him. Life in Jesus Christ his Lord (see 3:8-10). To become the most holiest of believer’s was Paul’s aim—his goal marker. He wanted to be more like Jesus day after day.
Oh to the Lord, that each of us would aim so high! To be the most holiest of believers. Yes, to be the most faithful follower of Christ on the planet. And, we should want this for our church too.
If FFBC will focus on the “one thing”—fulfilling the Great Commission, motivated by the Great Commandment, we will become one of the healthiest, most strongest churches in AL. and America. How do we turn things around to make this true? The next verses reveal the answer.

III. Paul’s Challenge to the Church (3:15-16)

In every church there are maturing believers, immature believers or babes in Christ, and carnal believers. Paul speaks to the first two groups here. Disciple is the key to spiritual growth.

III. Paul’s Challenge to the Church (3:15-16)

A. The Discipline of Right Thinking (3:15a)

Believers must discipline themselves to think correctly. In this verse Paul is encouraging the mature believers to think like him. They must continue in the race streching out to finish as champions for Christ.

B. The Discipline of Right Thoughtfulness (3:15b)

The mature believer must realize that there are the immature in their midst. They must encourage them rather than condemn them. The mature must challenge the immature and carnal Christians to come down out of the grandstands and get into the race, keeping their focus on living and growing in Christ.
Hebrews 12:1–2 ESV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
: 1-2

C. The Discipline of Right Training (3:16)

C. The Discipline of Right Training (3:16)

Conclusion

The rule book for running the Christian race is the BIBLE.
The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Eight: Let’s Win the Race! (Philippians 3:12–16)

Bible history is filled with people who began the race with great success but failed at the end because they disregarded God’s rules. They did not lose their salvation, but they did lose their rewards (1 Cor. 3:15). It happened to Lot (Gen. 19), Samson (Jud. 16), Saul (1 Sam. 28; 31), and Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). And it can happen to us! It is an exciting experience to run the race daily, “looking unto Jesus” (Heb. 12:1–2). It will be even more exciting when we experience that “upward calling” and Jesus returns to take us to heaven!

In order to run the race and recieve the prize the believer must run according to the rules stated in the BIBLE.
The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Eight: Let’s Win the Race! (Philippians 3:12–16)

This is what Paul has in mind in 1 Corinthians 9:24–27. “Any man who enters an athletic contest practices rigid self-control in training” (Phil. 3:14, WMS). If the athlete breaks training, he is disqualified; if he breaks the rules of the game, he is disqualified. “No contestant in the games is crowned, unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Tim. 2:5, WMS). The issue is not what he thinks or what the spectators think but what the judges say. One day each Christian will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10–12). The Greek word for “judgment seat” is bema, the very same word used to describe the place where the Olympic judges gave out the prizes! If we have disciplined ourselves to obey the rules, we shall receive a prize.

Conclusion

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