Monday, September 7, 2009

9/8 Philippians 3:12-17 Discontent with our Growth

(amphitheater in Philippi where plays, games, races held-there could be a hippodrome here for races as there were in nearby cities)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

9/8- Phil. 3:12-17
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. 17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.
Calvin abridged: 12- Not that I have already obtained all this- Paul insists upon this goal, that he may convince the Philippians that he things of nothing but Christ—knows nothing else—desires nothing else—is occupied with no other subject of meditation. He also adds that while he had given up all hindrances, he had not attained the object of his aim, so he was always aiming for something further. But what has Paul not attained? By faith we have been ingrafted into the body of Christ, we have already entered into the kingdom of God (Eph. 2:6), and we already in hope sit in the heavenly places. But our salvation is in hope- it is secure- but not yet in our possession. What Paul has not yet attained is entire fellowship in Christ’s sufferings, a full taste of the power of the resurrection, and knowing him perfectly. “For which Christ Jesus has taken hold of me” – Paul was apprehended by Christ that he might apprehend Christ. He did nothing unless it was under Christ’s influence and guidance. 13- “Yet to have taken hold of it”- Paul was not doubting the certainty of his salvation, but was repeating that he has not attained the end of his calling. Now he compares our lives to a race. As it would profit the runner nothing to have left the starting point unless he went toward the goal, so we must pursue the course or our calling until death, and we must not stop until we have obtained what we seek. As the course is set for the runner, so God sets our course. As the runner needs to be free from entanglement and impediment, so we must not divert attention away from God’s calling.
“Forgetting what is behind”- If anyone thinks they have made great progress compared to their past, they will become indolent and may deliver up the lamp to others; we may look back with a feeling of regret so that we may not apply our mind to the current situation;
Thought: We are too easily and falsely secure in our knowledge and love of God. In American culture, we are too easily content with a little bit of God and not content enough with the things of the world. September is a great time to press on in our knowledge and love for Christ, challenging ourselves in personal devotion (like reading this blog), group devotion (like Sunday School or Bible study), and corporate worship. If you love someone, you are not content with just a bit of time getting to know them. If we say we love God, we should show it not with words, but with time. There are lots of things in our culture that distract us. Athletic events, athletic events for the kids, a beautiful day at the lake, and then we look back on our week, our month, our year, or our lifetime and we regret that we did not make God more of a priority in our lives. We are quick to rest on our spiritual laurels, but Paul did not- and we should not.

Prayer: Help us O God, to grow in our love for you. Keep us from thinking our race is complete just because we are on the track. Ignite in us more of a desire for you.

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