What’s your priority? | Gig Harbor | Chapel Hill Online
What is the priority in your life? If you say it’s God, does the evidence say it is? Are you investing in your relationship with Christ, or are you a lazy Christian? In this sermon by Mark Toone, learn about how to prioritize God in your life!
Discussion Questions Jun 20
1. What do you find yourself more inclined to do – live in the past, the present or the future? Read how Paul treats his past in Philippians 3:13 – 4:1.
2. As you think back over your story are there parts you wish you could move on from? In what ways do you live out Paul’s example of forgetting the past and straining to what’s ahead?
3. What are you most convicted of from this passage? The need to stop being spiritually lazy? Or a reminder that we ought to work hard not to earn God’s approval but because we already have it? Bring your area of need to God in prayer.
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I have an app on my phone that allows me to monitor my retirement accounts. With a click, I can get a quick summary of everything I’ve saved up over the years; what “I’m worth.” Now, imagine if I clicked that account…and saw that same number… in red. What would that mean? That what I thought was a credit…was actually a debit. That everything I thought was on the “plus” side …was actually on the “minus” side. That would be a very bad moment.
As Pastor Julie taught us last week, the Apostle Paul spent his whole life building up credits in his religious account. He described himself as spiritually “blameless.” According to the rules of his time, Paul had a HUGE accumulation of points on the “plus” side of his spiritual ledger.
And then…he discovered that all his hard work accounted for nothing. That number in his “plus” column…was actually a big fat red negative number…because he wrongly assumed that he could earn God’s favor. No matter how good you are…how religious… you always fall short of God’s requirement: perfection. And who’s perfect?
Well…Jesus. Jesus lived the perfect life we could not live. And by his death and resurrection, he paid the price for our sin and offered to us … freely…the very righteousness Paul worked so hard to earn. Paul discovered this amazing truth: salvation… righteousness…a right standing before God…is NOT something we earn. It is God’s free gift. He put it this way in Phil 3:8:
“…I have suffered the loss of all [my spiritual accomplishments]…and count them as MANURE, 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…”
This is one of the most important spiritual lessons we can learn. If I ask the question, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” and your reply is something like, “Well… I try to be a good person…I try to obey the Ten Commandments…I try to be honest and fair with other people…I try to go to church”… if the “inside-your-head” answer to that question starts with, “I try…”… then you’ve fallen into the same trap as Paul. Because you think you can earn your salvation by the spiritual things YOU do…and it won’t work. It’s not about “I try.” It’s about “He did!” And that was Paul’s life-changing discovery.
Our only hope, Paul says, is to trust completely in the free gift of salvation offered through Jesus. To surrender our lives to him and allow HIM to make us right before God. This is the robe I wore when our kids were little. If they were cold, they’d run to me and I would hide them inside my robe. Now imagine this robe is the righteousness of Jesus. His goodness and perfection. When we surrender our lives to him…it’s like being wrapped in his robe. We are covered in HIS righteousness. And when God looks at us…he doesn’t see our sin…our rebellion… he sees the righteousness of his Son. It’s a GIFT! If you hear nothing more than that today…you’ve heard the gospel. You CANNOT earn God’s love by trying. You only receive God’s love by surrendering.
“BUT” …Paul goes on to say… “even though I have this covering…this righteousness… it doesn’t mean I’m done; that I’m perfect. God has done his work in me… AND I still have work to do. To become more and more like Jesus who gave his life to save me. That’s the theme to which Paul returns in Philippians 3:12: 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.
Paul says, “It’s not like I’m completely righteous…I’m not perfect…but I persevere to become more and more like Jesus.” And he repeats himself: Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. “I’m not righteous yet. I’m not perfect yet. Not even close.” But then comes the punchline:
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