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Living a Focused Life

Living a Focused Life:

 

INTRODUCTION: Philippians 3:9-16

A.    A hungry tiger started tracking the scent of a deer. As he followed the deer, he came across the scent of a rabbit. He turned aside and started after the rabbit. The he was distracted by the scent of a mouse and started following that. He finally came to the hole into which the mouse had vanished. He ended the day hungrier than when he had started the day. This fable illustrates how many spend their lives distracted with this or that, and at the end of the day – they have accomplished little.

B. In Philippians 3:9-16 we find a focus for one’s life – a spiritual focus

and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

 

1. Paul wrote Philippians 3:13b-14

2. Paul said "this one thing I do”

a. Not "a hundred things I start” or "a dozen things I attempt” – but "one thing I do”

b. Paul says he is putting all his energy into this one thing – "pressing toward the mark”

C. I struggle with this concept – I get involved, at times, in too many projects and end up doing less than my best with many of them

1. German proverb: "He who begins too much accomplishes little”

2. Perhaps you, too, have trouble staying focused. If so, a study of Paul’s focused life will help us both.

DISCUSSION:

A. FOCUSED ON A PERSON

1. Philippians 3:10-11

a. "Knowing” Christ involves more than just knowing about Him – includes developing a relationship with Him

b. Paul already enjoyed a special relationship with Christ, but he stilled longed for a deeper and richer knowledge

2. Knowing Christ in this life

a. Paul wanted to know everything about Jesus. He wanted to know "the power of His resurrection”

1) Paul wants to know the power or strength available to the Christian through the resurrection of the Lord

2) Paul wrote Galatians 2:20

Galatians 2:20 - 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.

3) But at the same time he felt the need for a constant renewal of that strength and power

b. In addition, Paul wanted to know "the fellowship of his suffering”

1) "Fellowship” is sharing or joint participation

2) Paul felt no one could know Christ fully unless he shared in His suffering

3) Galatians 6:17 > 2 Corinthians 4:10-11

Galatians 6:17 - From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 4:10-11 -always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

4) Through suffering for the cause of Christ, Paul came to understand more clearly what the Lord had suffered for him

c. Paul concluded his thought with the words, "conformable unto his death”

1) With the help of the Lord, Paul was dying to himself

2) Galatians 2:20

d. Paul’s desire to know Christ more fully had at least four facets:

1) A personal experience: "that I may know Him”

2) A powerful experience: "and the power of His resurrection”

3) A painful experience: "and the fellowship of His suffering”

4) A practical experience: "being conformable unto His death”

e. The beginning of our quest to know Christ is seen inRomans 6 – notice the emphasis on Christ’s suffering and resurrection and our need to conform to His death

Romans 6:1-11: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 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. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

 

3. Paul looked forward to Knowing Christ in the next life

a. This is evidently what Paul had in mind in Philippians 3:11

Philippians 3:1 - that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

b. Paul looked forward to the time when he could know Christ fully.

 

Paul was focused on a Person – Jesus Christ

B. FOCUSED ON A PRIZE

1. Philippians 3:12-14

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 

2. Regarding the Present: Humility Needed

a. "Not as though I had already attained…” (v. 12a) – Paul had not yet obtained the full knowledge of Christ – which would come at the resurrection

b. "…either were already perfect” (v. 12b) – Paul knew that he was not all he could be or should be

1) If Paul claimed he had room to grow – what about us?

2) The Bible challenge is for us to grow > Ephesians 4:152 Peter 3:18

Ephesians 4:15 - Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

 

2 Peter 3:18 - But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen

3. Regarding the Past: Forgiveness Needed

a. How did Paul cope with not being all that he could be?

1) "forgetting those things which are behind” (v. 13)

2) What did Paul forget?

b. He forgot his past successes – as was seen earlier in this chapter

1) We cannot rely on our past laurels

2) We must continue to prove ourselves

c. Paul also forgot past failures

1) He admitted he was not "perfect” and he had not "laid hold”

2) Paul did not spend his time regretting – he repented and moved forward

3) Many allow the past to destroy their present and future

4) Hebrews 8:12 - For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.”

4. Regarding the Future: Progress Needed

a. When we dwell on the past we many times become distracted and discouraged

b. Paul said "this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (v. 13)

1) "I follow after [press on - ASV]"

2) Here Paul’s intensity is seen – he had a great desire to reach his spiritual goal

c. What was Paul reaching for? > Paul was reaching for the prize

1) Paul knew, and so should we, that this can only be done as we faithfully fulfill our mission

2) We must live faithfully and bring as many to Christ as we possible can

3) 2 Timothy 4:7-8 - I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

C. FOCUSED ON PEOPLE

1. Philippians 3:15-16 = 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

2. Genuine Concern

a. In verses 4-14 we find Paul focused on his life ("I”- "me”-”my”-”myself”)

b. But in verse 15 he suddenly sifts to the plural "Let us” – Paul’s focus in life was also on others

c. Paul wants everyone to have the attitude he has been describing

3. Gentle Correction

a. "and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you”

b. One trait of immaturity is an inadequate grasp of God’s word

c. Paul was confident that they would get the instruction they needed to make the proper decisions – he was confident that the dissenters would soon learn better

4. A General Command

a. "Walk by the same rule…mind the same thing”

b. To be spiritually united we must have a common authority – God’s Word

c. God’s will for us will be plain if we will obediently adhere to His written word

CONCLUSION:

A. We must stay focused on the spiritual task before us

B. Many matters in life are important, but none are as important as following Jesus

 




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