Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lesson 13 - Going On and On and On

Lesson 13 - Going On and On and On

What meant the most to you from this chapter or helped you think more accurately about God’s character and the truth of His Word?

What offered you the greatest challenge or blessing, and why?

Say “no” to the past and “yes” to the present and what is at hand.

Where are you Going?
“Where am I going?” is the question a focused Christian would ask.  It is a question regarding God’s purpose.
Read again the characteristics of a forward-moving, focused Christian. 
  •   They know where they are going.
  •  They have a sense of God’s call on their lives, which gives them sure direction each step of the way and makes decision-making easier.
  •  They understand the purpose of their lives.
  •  They focus on God and God-given goals, which makes it easier to say “no” to what is trivial.
  •  They choose wisely from among their options, which moves toward life goals.
Energy = great secret to success!  A forward focus gives us greater energy for reaching our goals….God’s goals.

Energy is not wasted on wondering what to do or on wandering aimlessly from option to option.

A God-confidence blossoms as we gain more certainty about what to do and about God’s enabling power to serve wherever He has placed us.

Knowing where we are headed and why is the kind of focus Paul calls us to in Philippians 3:13-14.

Which one of these characteristics do you need to work on?

What first step can you take right away?

Where is Your Focus?
All energy should be committed to the race you are running:  spiritual, mental , emotional, and physical.

The race is…to those things which are ahead!

Life is a race…by God’s grace…do your very best to run it for and with Him.

Ask yourself these three questions from time to time:
  •   Am I focusing my efforts toward the prize that awaits at the end, or am I too content watching other people’s efforts?
  •   Am I “training” regularly and “working out” in the daily disciplines of the Christian life?
  •   Am I properly fueling my body with sleep, nutrition, and exercise for maximum results?
Running the race -- living for Christ and growing into His image -- requires focus and discipline.

Which area of focus do you need to work on today? 

What first step can you take right away?

Paul knew the human tendency to rest, relax, and remember the past.  Read Philippians 3:13-14 and 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 to see what Paul was doing to continue moving toward the goal he focused on.

List the two or three that mean the most to you.

Focusing on the Present
Read Hebrews 12:1-2.  Verse 1 mentions the weight and sin that keep people from reaching forward toward God.  What are some activities or interests that keep you from running a better race?

Verse 2 mentions looking to Jesus.  What changes in your mental attitude and focus would help you pursue God’s purpose with more passion and concentration?

Can you say that all of your effort and energy is focused on God?  What would make this statement more true of you?

Recognizing God’s Purpose for You
How would you answer these questions?

  •  Who am I? - I am a Christian woman, wife, mother, grandmother…

  •  Where did I come from? - I was “in him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4)

  •  Why am I here? - I am here to give my life in service to God, my family and His people.

  •  Where am I going? - by God’s amazing grace and love, I am going to heaven!

Loving God…Even More

Read this section in your book again.  As you consider the contents of this chapter and God’s amazing love for you, what can you do this week, in obedience to Christ…

          …to press for the prize?

          …to remember to forget?

          …to love God with all your mind?

With the goal in view, I press on..

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lesson 12 - Finding the Gold

Learn from the past,
log the lessons from the past, but
leave the past!

Forgetting the Good
In order to effectively serve the Lord, the apostle Paul needed to leave behind the good as well as the bad of his past.

Read Philippians 3:4-6 again. What advantages and achievements did Paul enjoy?

Paul forgot the good - before becoming a Christian, he enjoyed a multitude of privileges as a Roman citizen and as a student of Gamaliel, the most distinguished rabbi then living and the teacher of the apostle Paul. (Acts 22:3).

Paul’s impeccable Jewish pedigree also meant he enjoyed an enviable position in society (Philippians 3:5-6).

Paul chose to forget his status and the privileges of his position, regarding them as a hindrance to running the race for Christ. He valued serving God and His eternal truth far more.

What are some wonderful advantages and achievements God allowed you to experience before and after you became a Christian?

How can good things -- advantages and achievements -- keep you from growing as a Christian?

If we hold on to them, dwell on them, and fail to press on toward spiritual growth and usefulness.

What perspective does Philippians 3:13-14 give you on the good things you listed above? Also note if there is anything you need to be actively forgetting.

Paul forgot the things which were behind so as not to be content with present measures of grace.

He pressed towards the mark. As he a runner runs a race and never sets a goal to finish short of the end, but runs forward as fast as they can, so those who have heaven in their eye must still be pressing forward to it in holy desires and hopes, and constant endeavors and preparations.

Forgetting Success

Read 2 Corinthians 12:2-6. What was Paul’s perspective on this most miraculous event?

He did not mention this immediately; it was fourteen years later, and only then with some reluctance. Again, he speaks of himself in the third person, and does not say, I am the man who was honored above other men. His humility appears by the check he seems to put upon himself (v. 6), which plainly shows that he delighted not to dwell upon this. It is an excellent thing to have a lowly spirit in the midst of high advancements; and those who lower themselves shall be exalted.

Even ministry accomplishments, when dwelled on too long, can keep us from reaching forward in our journey toward Christlikeness. We cannot make progress when we are resting on our past successes. Therefore, we must forget the good.

Read Philippians 3:7-8 again. What does Paul’s attitude teach you?

His attitude teaches to be ambitious of and reach after the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord; a practical and effective knowledge of him.

Forget “who you were” -- What are you doing now?

Forget the good ol’ days -- God wants us to forget our achievements, our accomplishments, and our brilliance so that we will keep achieving and accomplishing for Him in the present.

Don’t forget what is yet to be accomplished – thank God for the good of the past, but be sure to move on and serve Him in the present.

What past achievements or major accomplishment might be hindering your efforts to run the race? And what does Philippians 4:8 -- the charge to think on what is true and real -- say to you about your past glories? What do you need to let go of from the past?

Three Steps For Forgetting

Is there any recurring memory of a bad or sinful thing from your past that continues to come to your mind and haunt you? Are you struggling in a bad situation now? If so, spend time praying about your past or the situation you are now facing. Then ask and answer these three questions:

1. Discover the gold.
Where is the gold? Look for the hidden blessing, the lesson to be learned, or the character trait being forged.

Trust that because God has allowed these experiences, somewhere in them there is gold for you! It isn’t always easily seen or readily accessible.

2. Find forgiveness.
Do I believe I am forgiven? Why or why not?

1 John 1:9. In this truth you find forgiveness. The truth is that you are forgiven, and this truth cost Christ His life. Your role is to believe that you are forgiven. Let the truth of God’s gracious forgiveness help you let go of the past.

3. Forgive others.
Who do I need to forgive?

Luke 23:34. Jesus modeled such forgiveness for us as he was hanging on the cross.

Failure to follow Christ’s example sentences us to a life of bitterness. Find that freedom to press on and serve by extending forgiveness to those who have hurt you.

Spend time thanking God for His abundant blessings in your life. Then ask God to show you where He would have you press on for Him. Jot down any decisions you need to make or steps you must take.

Psalm 112:4. Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.

Ask God to shine His light in your darkness and to help you discover the gold of His perfect work in your life.

Loving God…Even More

Read this section in your book again. As you consider the contents of this chapter and God’s amazing love for you, what can you do this week, in obedience to Christ…

…to press for the prize?
…to remember to forget?
…to love God with all your mind?

With the goal in view, I press on..