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I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover. I don’t depend on my own strength to  accomplish this; however I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead. I run straight for the divine invitation of reaching the heavenly goal and gaining the victory-prize through the anointing of Jesus. So let all who are fully mature have this same passion, and if anyone is not yet gripped by these desires, God will reveal it to them. And let us all advance together to reach this victory-prize, following one path with one passion.   PHILIPPIANS 3:12-16 (THE PASSION TRANSLATION)       Welcome to our last Sunday worship encounter of 2018. We trust that today will be a blessing for all who desire to meet with the Lord. Whether this year has been fulfilling or frustrating, easy or hard, happy or sad for you, one thing is certain: we must move forward in order to grow spiritually. That’s the only way we can capitalize on every circumstance, whether good or bad, right?       The passage above was written by the Apostle Paul while a prisoner of the Roman government. He likely wrote this letter while confined in Rome. Why the background info? If anyone could have insisted on feeling hopeless due to negative circumstances, it would have been Paul. However, the tone of this letter is wildly optimistic. If you’ve never read the entire letter to the Church at Philippi, I recommend you do so. It will take less than an hour, and it will lift your spirits beyond cloud nine!  

    Philippians 3:12-16 reveals: A COMPELLING FOCUS IS A CRITICAL NEED! Paul could have wallowed in self-pity. After all, he was fulfilling the ministry given him by Jesus. However, the tenor of Paul’s letter is quite the opposite of self-pity. Instead of a “woe-is-me” attitude, Paul kept his desired destination first and foremost in his heart and mind. He writes: “I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead” (Philippians 3:13 TPT). Friend, is your heart fastened to your future? Do you possess “one compelling focus”?
 

Here are some insights from Philippians 3:12-16…   (1) It’s not a negative confession to admit that you have not yet arrived. Historians believe that Paul wrote this letter to the church in Philippi around 62 A.D., some 25 years after he met Jesus face-to-face on the Damascus Road. Paul enjoyed great success in ministry, despite the pain he endured at the hands of his persecutors. Notable miracles were attributed to Paul, as the Holy Spirit verified the gospel of Jesus with signs, wonders, and miracles. Yet, Paul wanted more! Do you?   (2) Applause is an impediment to destiny. If Paul had been almost idolized (as some in “Churchianity” are today) he may have sought the approval of man instead of God. Numbers are practically worshipped today. Religious organizations gather data and produce presentations for their “significant” donors. I’m thankful that the Bible was written in the first few years of the church’s existence. It was hard to throw a party for leaders back then (unless you had a prison pass). Paul had no time for applause. He was determined to “run straight for the divine invitation of reaching the heavenly goal and gaining the victory-prize through the anointing of Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). If we are going to finish the race we’ve started, we cannot afford to be distracted by compliments or criticism; either might prove fatal!   (3) Run your race for Jesus and trust Him to create that desire in others. Does it bother you that people in churches act at times like they’re doing God a favor by showing up for “worship”? No prayer, no mourning, no change! I’ve discovered a secret I’d like to share with you today: If you pay too much attention to others, you’ll wind up in a ditch with them! Paul wrote that “all who are fully mature” would share the same passionate pursuit of Jesus. For others who may not be at the same level, “God will reveal it to them.” The Body of Christ is healthiest when the strong keep growing and model the maturity available to those who desire more.       As we approach 2019, I hope that you’ll join me in pushing the RESET button. We can’t repair the past but we can make the future better as we focus on where we’re going, not where we’ve been. Don’t hang your head over missed opportunities or broken promises. Let’s hold our heads high, square our shoulders, and move toward our dreams. Like Paul, let’s forget the past and fasten our hearts to our futures instead. May we all “advance together to reach this victory-prize, following one path with one passion” (Philippians 3:16)! God Bless You and Happy New Year!!   Pastors Glenn & Diann Randall