Philippians 3-4, Psalm 12
We have all seen the movies where the main character and the main villain finally see each other on the field of battle. Think the 2000 movie, The Patriot, when Colonel William Tavington (the antagonist/villain) and Benjamin Martin (played by Mel Gibson) see each other in the final battle. Though the bullets were flying and the swords were clashing, it was all a blur as the two individuals were focused on one another and everything else seemed insignificant. In Job when God reveals His omnipotence to Job, He gives the example of the horse, asking Job if he can understand it. In Job 39:19-25, it says, "Have you given the horse strength?...He gallops into the clash of arms. He mocks at fear, and is not frightened; Nor does he turn back from the sword. The quiver rattles against him, The glittering spear and javelin. He devours the distance with fierceness and rage;...". God describes the horse who inexplicably defies all logic and follows the command to run headlong into danger despite the danger which surrounds him. In today's reading this is the level of focus and single-mindedness that Paul exemplified and encourages from all of us in our walk with God.
Paul gives a list of his many earthly accomplishments, then goes on to describe his current view of them in Philippians 3:7-9, "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness,...". Though Paul had accomplished much in his earlier life, he gave up his reputation among the Jewish leaders, and considered all of these things rubbish (or in other versions, dung) compared to a relationship with Christ. Paul goes on in 3:12-14 to describe his mindset in his pursuit of Christ, "...but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me...but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Many people are hindered in their progress because they are busy looking at the past; hung up by their failures, bitter against those who have hurt them, or resting on the laurels of their past success." Paul describes where his thoughts and mind reside in 3:20, "For our citizenship is in heaven...". He then goes on to encourage the saints in Philippi how they should be thinking in 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things." We are to hold captive every thought and direct it on Christ Jesus.
We live in a world ripe with distractions. From TV, the internet, social media, etc, it all keeps us distracted from Him. God gives us each day, and on each day, our focus should be squarely on Jesus if we are to live the life that He desires from us. If we focus on the past, even things that we did that glorified Him, such as a ministry, a church event, our Baptism, etc., it still requires us to ask the question what are we doing for God today. Nothing is static concerning our walk with God. In fact, very few things in our culture are neutral : from our music, what we read, what we look at, what we talk about, etc. Each day we are either taking a step forward or a step backward in our relationship with Him. Our relationship with Christ is like every other relationship, it is alive and dynamic. Let us harness all of our thoughts, energy, and actions on Him, and make Him Lord of our life, every day.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: