Paul the apostle has a plan to win, “but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
The writer of Hebrews likened the Christian life to running in the Olympics. We that run in a race should put everything we have got into winning. Let us note that we are not running a human race where only one receives the prize. Our competition is spiritual, and we are running ours alone. Of course, we have God running alongside us.
You are not trying to beat other believers over the finish line. The only competitor is you, and the competition is the weights and the sins that might stumble your life off course. Lay aside the old life, sin not, resist the devil and let God be your running track. Stay focused on Jesus and keep within your line.
When taking part in sports activities, it is incredible what people are willing to go through for a corruptible crown. How much more should we be ready to live a disciplined life for the incorruptible crown awaiting us at our finished line?
Paul declared of himself that he had fought a good fight, he had finished his race and was now looking to standing before the Judge, to receive his reward, the crown of righteousness which the Lord our righteous Judge shall give not only to him but to all who loves His appearing.
The necessity of laying aside every weight and running with patience is critical to our success. If we are to win this race, we must not only put aside every pressure, but we must keep our eye on the goal – Jesus. He is your focused target and finish line in the race.
To the Philippians, Paul spoke of pressing toward the mark and pressing toward the goal. Since so great a cloud of witnesses surrounds us, we should look at their life of faith and accomplishments through faith. They witness to us of what hope can do when we exercise it in our own lives. Their lives bear witness to us of the value of walking with God.
We continuously try to assemble the Christmas toys for our children, avoiding reading the instruction manual at all costs. When all else fails, we turn to our last resort and open the manual supplied us. Once we begin to follow the instructions, our project takes shape. Moreover, we understand why instructions came with our purchase.
This scenario plays out throughout our entire life, especially when it comes to our walk with God. Our prayer life does not fare much better. We develop a plan for our life and then ask God to bless it. A fiery trial comes our way, and we seek every solution known to man before we commit it to prayer. When we finally in faith, turn it over to God in prayer, we receive the answers, help, strength, and patience to endure the trials of life.
Jesus is the author of our faith. He is the one who has planted faith in our hearts, and He is also the finisher of our faith. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
God will complete that which concerns us. So, having begun, He continues His work in our lives. He is the author, the finisher, the beginning, the end. He said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega; the beginning and the end…” (Revelation 1:8, 1:11, 21:6, 22:13). He is the finisher of everything.
Paul’s teaching in Philippians 3:7-14 gives us great insight as to how to live the resurrected life and how to press on in Christ Jesus. That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, we all should want to know Him in the power of His resurrection. And more fully, “the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.” To know HIM is more than merely to read a doctrine about Him. Believers come not only to redemption but to the Redeemer Himself.
That I may know him—in truth and righteousness and the power of His resurrection, being justified through faith in the work of the Cross and raised spiritually with Him, finding our identification with Him in this, as in all the acts of His redeeming work for us, the power of the Divine Spirit, which raised Him from literal death, is the same, which raises believers from spiritual death now and shall raise their bodies from literal death hereafter.
Paul moves on to the fellowship of his sufferings (Philippians 3:10). I like power, but I do not like misery. If Jesus suffered for us, we should suffer for Him. All true believers will enter the fellowship of His sufferings, for this strengthens our faith and produces maturity in our new life. The lessons we learn will prepare us for any trial we might face.
Partaking in the fellowship of His sufferings—becomes our identification with Him. He bore all our sufferings, so we take part in His. It is part of God’s will for our lives to purify and mature us for His glory.
Our flesh always rebels against suffering. We like the power, but we do not like pain. We do not even like it when someone we love is suffering through a trial. The disciples found it difficult to handle this truth when Jesus started talking about the suffering that He was to experience. Peter cried out, “Lord, be that far from thee.” And Jesus said, “Get thee behind me, Satan, you offend me…. “(Matthew 16:23-24).
It was the natural cry of man, “Spare yourself from suffering.” But Paul is willing to follow Jesus to the Cross. “I want to know him; I want to know him completely.” Yes, the power of the resurrection, but you can never know the power until you have, first, known the Cross.
Paul’s goal in running and winning his race is threefold:
We must keep our focus on Jesus Christ and His purpose for our lives. Jesus was talking to Peter about how he was to die for Christ, turning toward John, he asked: “But what about him?” Jesus, as much as said, “That’s none of your business, you just stay focused on Me.” Many times, we, like Peter, are saying, “But what about them?” Jesus would urge us to focus upon Him and run our race in faith and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let Jesus be your life coach. The one who created the universe and held it together. The one who always was always is, and always will be. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the author, and the finisher of our faith.
Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7).
God has given every man a measure of faith. The faith that we have in our heart is a gift of God. Paul said, “By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourself; it’s a gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8). Our salvation, the faith by which we believe, is God’s gift. In I Corinthians 12, Paul lists faith as one of the gifts of the Spirit.
Scripture portrays the Christian life as a walk. It speaks of walking in the Spirit, walking in the flesh, walking in the light, walking in darkness, walking in love, and walking in the truth.
The Lord made a bold statement about faith, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:21-22).
“Faith is believing God’s Word and acting upon it!”
“Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only.”
Many believers have never experienced the power of the risen life. They have stayed away from the fellowship of the suffering and crucified life. I want to hold on to the things of the flesh. I do not want to see it nailed to the Cross. But you will never know the life of the resurrected Christ until you have first experienced the fellowship of His sufferings.
Some believers feel they have reached, or they have achieved their spiritual walk. But Paul, the apostle said, “Look, I don’t consider that I have attained; I don’t look at myself as being perfect, the work of the Lord is not yet complete in me.”
Conforming to the likeness of His death,” namely, by degrading of the bodily self.” Thus, it ensures the believer to be “accounted worthy to obtain the resurrection from the dead…” (Luke 20:35). And, “The resurrection of the just…” (Luke 14:14). When the Lord apprehended us, He did so with grace and mercy. He said, “I have chosen you and ordained you that you should be my disciple…” (John 15:16) so, we turn to follow Him in faith.
Behold the finish line of the race we are running, winning the crown of victory, with our course completed, and perfection reached. When we are looking up in Jesus’ face, just overwhelmed by His glory and love, we will say, “I finally have apprehended that for which I was apprehended. The Lord intended for me, to be with Him in His kingdom, to share with Him His glory.
Paul knows where the finish line is, how to reach it, and what prize awaits him. Therefore, he has a plan to win, “but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Looking back is sure to end in going back! The story of Lot’s wife tells us what happens when we take our eyes off the prize. God’s Word to us is as it was to Israel, “Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward” (Exodus 14:15). The Bible is our landmark to show us whether we are progressing or backsliding.
You will never know the life of the resurrected Christ until you have experienced the fellowship of His sufferings. It is all part of following Jesus and being in Christ. As the children of God, we get to be part of the family of pain: “If children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer for Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:17).
Being in Christ is conforming to His death to reach His resurrected life. Christians called according to His purpose will find it a necessary path to maturity, this resurrection life right now, and the ultimate resurrection from the dead. The suffering is worth it, considering the greatness of the goal of transformation into His image, from death unto Eternal Life!
FINALLY, all things work together for good for those in Christ. There was “No Room in the Inn” for Baby Jesus, so He was born in a stable filled with the smell of livestock.
We might think that the Son of God, our Redeemer, and the King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s deserved a Five Star Hotel. However, the fulfillment of the prophecy was satisfied in this stable. Thus, preparing the way for our salvation.
Because Jesus endured the trials on earth (but without sin), He can promise that we will be moving out of our stables here on earth into the Father’s house one day. “. . . In my Father’s house are many mansions, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself”.” (John 14:1-4).
How profound was this, born in a manger with no room in the inn, growing up a carpenter being the Son of God, now building mansions in Heaven for His Bride. Hallelujah!
“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20-NKJV).
“May the LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD to make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; The LORD lift His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”