Sunday, November 13, 2005


Intro.: In just a couple of weeks we will be celebrating Thanksgiving.

  1. My wife will cook a wonderful turkey stuffed with rice dressing.

  2. We will probably also have mashed potatoes, carrot salad, hot rolls, and for desert, pumpkin pie

  3. But it is the turkey that I want to focus on this morning – because that is where I get involved.

  4. I will probably get up a couple of hours after Sandra. She will have the Turkey in the oven.

  5. The first thing I will do is ask how is it going? It will be a couple of hours yet, she'll say.

  6. And then every half hour I will ask, “How's it coming?”

  7. When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, I am a kid at heart.

  8. I want the turkey to be done. I like the white meat best – but, of course I can't get my white meat until the whole turkey is done.

  9. During the morning, I may even sneak a peak at the pop-up or the thermometer. Maybe I can rush it if I look more often – naw, it doesn't work that way.

  10. The turkey will be done when the turkey is done.

  11. Paul thought the same thing about his Christian life

Read: Philippians 3:12-21


Trans: We left Paul last week saying, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

  1. Paul knows his goal

  2. Paul is facing the right direction

  3. And Paul continues moving forward

T.S. Philippians 3:12-21 provides two key concepts

  1. Concept I: We Are Not Yet Done Philippians 3:12

    1. There are times that I want to argue with the people I find in scripture. This is one of them.

    2. I mean, here is Paul – the one man we look to as a model of living the Christian life is all about. And he writes to the Philippian church that “he has not yet made it.” Here is Paul, nearing the end of his life. Sitting in house arrest, chained to a Roman guard. He has been a Christian for nearly 30 years. And now he says he has not reached his goal.

    3. It gets worse – he does not just say it, he says it three times: v12 Not that I have already obtained all this v12 or have already been made perfect ... v13 I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it

    4. If Paul, having been a believer for thirty years has not made it, what chance do I have of making it?

(Ill.) It is as if Paul had gone 5 miles on his journey and I have gone 1 mile. The problem is that the goal is a million miles away.

(Ill.) Paul used a number of pictures to describe the Christian life: Military – “Put on the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6) Agriculture - “For whatever a man sows he will also reap” Galatians 6 Architecture - “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (I Cor 3) and here he uses pictures an athletic event - a race.

    1. Look at the words he uses - “I press on”, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead”, “I press on

(Ill.) I read that last weeks New York Marathon had the closest finish ever. 26 miles in 2 hours and 9 minutes. It appears that winner took Paul's advice. When the young man from Latvia was a 100 meters, about the length of a football field, away from the finish line he was in second place. I suppose he could have looked back on the last 25 miles and lamented the fact that he wasn't in the lead. But he didn't. He pressed on, forgot what was behind and passed the leader just moments – less than a third of a second - before reaching the finish line.i

(Appl.) I don't know what kind of race you are on. But I do know this – if we spend our time looking back, we are less likely to move forward. Knowing we, like Paul, have not yet reached the finish line, we are called to “press on”

  1. Concept II: We Can Finish the Race

    1. Paul has a unique way of using his vocabulary. In verse 12 – he has not yet been made perfect. In verse 15 he says “All of us who are mature ..” Its the same word. Perfect and mature – they are represented by the same Greek word. Paul recognized that he was not perfect, but that he was being perfected.

(Ill.) Mark Twain once said, “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”

    1. But that is what Paul sets himself up as – an example.

    2. There are examples we are not to follow – Paul calls them enemies of the cross. - they know where they going-destruction - their god is their stomach - they take pride in the very things that should be their shame - their mind is on earthly things Life for them is backwards. The very things they should confess, they wave like a flag. They find it easier to feed their wants, than to serve God. And they are not to be our example.

    3. If Paul is to be our example, then it makes sense that we know something about him.

(Ill.) One day St. Francis of Assisi said to one of the young monks at the Portiuncula, “Let us go down to the town and preach!” The novice, delighted at being singled out to be the companion of Francis, obeyed with alacrity. They passed through the principal streets, turned down many of the byways and alleys, made their way into the suburbs, and at great length returned by a circuitous route to the monastery gate. As they approached it, the younger man reminded Francis of his original intention.

“You have forgotten, Father, that we went to the town to preach!”

“My son,” Francis replied, “we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking. We have been seen by many; our behavior has been closely watched; it was thus that we preached our morning sermon. It is of no use, my son, to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk.”

    1. Of course we already know something – we know that he is finished with his race, we know that he presses on. But there is more.

    2. Paul recognizes that though he is a Roman citizen, after all, that is why he was sent to Rome, his heavenly citizenship is far more important. And the King is coming -

    3. And when he does – the transformation will be complete.

      We eagerly await a Savior – the Lord Jesus Christ – who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

    4. Paul has come full circle – we are not complete, we are not perfect, we are not finished. But, like Paul we are to press on, waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. And then we will be done. The transformation will be complete.

Conclusion: I know this about your spiritual life.

  1. It is not yet done.
  2. The race is not completed
  3. And you are called to “press on”
  4. And if we do, then God will transform us - step by step - until that day when we meet him face to face and the job is completed.


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