Game DayAugust 2-6
Spiritual Wins and Losses
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” – Philippians 3:7-8 (ESV)
After Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez landed at Vera Cruz, Mexico in 1519, he was so intent on conquest that to assure the devotion of his men, Cortez set fire to his fleet of eleven ships! With no means of retreat Cortez’s army had only one direction to move, into the Mexican interior. Cortez understood the price of commitment and he believed what was in front of him was worth more than what was behind him.
In Philippians 3, the Apostle Paul has burned his ships of past self-righteousness. Paul has been dealing with the issue of the “Judaizers”, those that taught you needed to keep the Law of Moses in order to be saved. Paul has talked about how if any person ought to be boastful about their ability to be “righteous” according to the Law of Moses, it was he. Before meeting Jesus, Paul had considered himself a “Hebrew of Hebrews”, a member of the strictest sect, the Pharisees. But now Paul counts all that self-righteousness as a loss. Paul is saying ‘I saw that all my acts of (self) righteousness were nothing on which I could depend for salvation and that Christ crucified could alone profit me.
Jim Elliott, missionary martyr, said, “He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” The word “loss” is used in Acts 27 of the cargo that was thrown overboard in a storm. They had to get rid of stuff in order to save their lives. What do you need to throw overboard to become fully dependent on Christ?
Praise God for the things you lost when you came to Christ. Praise God for the things you gained when you came to Christ.
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 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” – Philippians 3:8-9 (ESV)
When Roy DeLamotte was the chaplain at Paine College in Georgia, he preached the shortest sermon in the college’s history. His sermon title was much longer than his message: “What Does Christ Answer When We Ask, ‘Lord, What’s in Religion for Me?’” Here’s his one-word sermon: “Nothing.” A relationship with Christ, not religion, is what makes us righteous.
The Apostle Paul had tried everything religion had to offer to earn God’s approval. And now realizes it was all “rubbish.” In contrast, he learned “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ.” “Surpassing worth” is literally to hold above and so to stand out or be superior in rank, authority, or power. It speaks of that which excels, is superior or better, and which is exceptional or excellent. Gaining Christ is of incomparable worth and of more value than anything!
Warren Wiersbe writes that “knowing Christ” means much more than knowledge about Christ because Paul had that kind of historical information before he was saved. To “know Christ” means to have a personal relationship with Him through faith that is experiential and intimate. In what ways might you still be trying to use “religion” to earn God’s approval? In what ways is your relationship with Christ real and personal?
Praise God for the great value you gained when you accepted Christ into your life.
Wanting It All
“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” – Philippians 3:10-11 (ESV)
When Thomas Naylor was teaching business management at Duke University, he asked his students to draft a personal strategic plan. He reports that “with few exceptions, what they wanted fell into three categories: money, power, and things — very big things, including vacation homes, expensive foreign automobiles, yachts, and even airplanes.” This was their request from the faculty: “Teach me how to be a money-making machine.”
That’s a pretty common list and may summarize the American Dream. At one time in his life, the Apostle Paul may have had a similar list. But after meeting Christ, Paul’s list of things he wanted to be shifted drastically. Paul still wanted it “all” but “all” had changed. Warren Wiersbe made these observations about Paul’s list of desires: 1)It’s personal – “I” want to know Christ; 2) It’s powerful – the “power” of his resurrection; 3) It’s painful – the fellowship of sharing in his “sufferings;” and 4) It’s practical – “becoming” like him.
How would you define having it “all”? Many of us want to know Jesus and His power but our list stops there. What is the advantage of experiencing Jesus’ suffering?
Thank God for wanting you to have all of His very best.
Forgetting the Past
“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, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV)
Many years ago, a promising Greek artist named Timanthes worked under the instruction of a well-known tutor. After working for several years, the young painter created an exquisite portrait. He was so thrilled with what he had painted that he sat day after day gazing at his work. One morning, however, he was horrified to discover that his teacher had deliberately defaced his painting. Angry and in tears, Timanthes asked why his mentor had destroyed his treasured possession. The wise man replied, “I did it for your own good because that painting was retarding your progress. It was an excellent piece of work but it wasn’t perfect. Start again and see if you can do better.” The student took his advice and produced a masterpiece regarded by some as one of the finest paintings of antiquity.
Often letting go of our past can be the starting point to experiencing God’s best. To “forget” in the Bible means “to no longer be influenced by or affected by.” It’s when we don’t allow the past to control our present. While we can’t wipe stuff out of our memory banks, we can break the power of the past by allowing the Lord to unleash us from its influence.
Let’s be careful about looking back, remembering what happened to Lot’s wife in Genesis 19:26: “But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” As a sprinter straining toward the finish line, don’t look behind you. The picture here is of an athlete stretching out his neck, mobilizing every muscle, giving all that he has to win the race. You can’t run forward by looking backward.
Are there any good things in your past that you had to let go of in order to follow Christ? What did God give you in exchange for what you let go?
Thank God for the gift of letting go of the past. Thank God that there is nothing you let go of for Him that He won’t bless you for.
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, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV)
John Ortberg recounts a true story from a Tacoma, Washington newspaper about a basset hound named Tattoo. Tattoo didn’t intend to go for an evening run, but when his owner shut the dog’s leash in the car door and took off for a drive, he had no choice. Noticing what was going on, a police officer finally pulled the driver over. The officer commented: “The basset hound was picking up his feet and putting them down as fast as he could.” Amazingly, this short-legged canine reached a speed of 25 miles per hour, rolling over several times in the process. Ortberg notes, “Too many of us end up living like Tattoo, our days marked by picking them up and putting them down as fast as we can.” (LeadershipJournal.net)
To “press on,” in Philippians 3:14, has the idea of intensely pursuing the prize, of bearing down in order to win. Someone gave the example of two extremes that we need to avoid when it comes to determination in our Christian walk. This is best demonstrated by thinking of boats and water:
- A raft just sits in the water and doesn’t do anything. Some believers are saved but they’re just sitting, waiting for God to do something. Are you drifting?
- A rowboat depends totally on the strength of the person doing the rowing. Some believers think that everything’s up to them.
- A sailboat is the right picture, for God moves us as His Spirit fills our sails, and yet we have a responsibility to steer and stay in balance. A good sailor must be determined in order to cruise across the water.
By the grace of God and the power of God, the Apostle Paul pursued the mission God had laid out for him.
David Livingstone, a pioneer missionary to Africa, returned to Great Britain and was asked, “What do you want to do now?” He responded, “I am ready to go anywhere provided it be forward.” Have you given God your “yes” to move forward anywhere He wants you to go?
Thank God for the power and grace to move forward. Ask God to give you clarity about the mission and path He has for you.