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Archives For Successful living
Phil 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behindand straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prizefor which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
What an amazing statement! At this stage of Paul’s life he was in prison in dreadful conditions, unwell, unsure whether he would remain alive much longer, deprived of his freedom, comfort and possessions. Yet in this time of terrible adversity we see great single- mindedness and clarity in his approach to life. Sometimes being stripped of external comforts can actually help us to see things more clearly.
Paul knew he still had more to learn and to work towards. We all have untapped potential which can be released if we catch hold of a vision of what God’s got in store for our lives and keep pursuing it with all we’ve got. Paul, previously well known for persecuting believers (see Acts 9:13) also knew that dwelling on the past wouldn’t help. Like Paul, we need to decide not to let any regrets about our past shackle us and hold us back!
Phil 3:13 ‘This one thing…’ Many of us try to do too many things, causing our focus to become scattered and leaving us struggling to give any area enough attention. We can easily get so caught up in dealing with minor issues or worrying about problems that we lose momentum and make very little real progress. Single-mindedness leads to greater productivity.
Phil 3:14: We are easily distracted. It’s easy to get caught up in stress and worrying, or to get sidetracked into less fruitful pursuits. Having vision for the future with clear, specific long- term goals is the best way to stay on the right track. Athletes have clear goals and rewards, but in real life it’s usually not quite so obvious. But we are all motivated by outcomes. We need something particular to aim for – something we can envisage clearly, rather than just vague notions of self improvement. That’s why setting clear, written goals has such incredible motivating power.
Paul wrote this letter in dire circumstances. Yet rather than complaining and asking for sympathy, he speaks of joy and takes the time to encourage others! We always have a choice regarding how we view life. It’s so easy to dwell on the negatives and the problems. But have you noticed that we tend to attract more of whatever we focus on? And like Christian in ‘Pilgrims Progress’, as we walk towards the cross our burdens will fall away. Am I pressing on daily towards the upward call of God in Christ Jesus?
Read through Philippians 3 this week, and write down one main goal for your life.
Worry is a mode of behaviour – something we can take control over and change.
The brain is an amazing creation. It is still largely unexplained. It’s far more than just a physical organ – it’s the CPU, the command centre of your life, and it connects directly to your heart. Our thought life, especially what we focus on the most, shapes our lives. Win with the mind and you will succeed in life.
The Bible speaks of the ‘carnal mind’ – the mind we’re born with, our natural instincts, which carries an inbuilt bias towards selfishness and sin. That’s why Joyce Meyer calls the mind something of a ‘battle ground’. It’s where we win or lose in life.
Phil 4:13 says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Let’s view this statement of Paul’s in context by looking at the twelve preceding verses.
v2 We are instructed to rejoice continually, not to worry or stress or be fearful about the future. God is never worried or anxious. Notice that in the whole letter to the Philippians Paul barely even mentions the ordeal he is experiencing in the Roman prison where he is being held.
v5 The Lord is at hand. He is never far from us. Sometimes we need to reach out to make contact with Him, but He’s always there for us.
Be anxious for nothing – do any of us live up to this one? How much (or little) does it take to get you worked up? Part of the process of moving towards maturity is learning not to get overly anxious about every little thing that doesn’t go our way. Even with major concerns, I’ve learned to ask myself “How much will this really matter in a year’s time? In ten years?”
And stop worrying about what other people think about you – because they’re not thinking about you – they’re thinking about themselves!
Chronic worry can lead to emotional problems such as loss of motivation, productivity, energy and creativity; and physical problems like digestive problems, heart attack and high blood pressure.
The ‘gateways’ to our minds are our eyes and our ears. We need to guard and filter what enters into our minds via the media such as the net, TV and other influences. What do I allow to enter my mind? Is it positive and encouraging?
We have a natural tendency to focus on negatives and problems – even when they’re just minor issues! Even small worries can eat away at our inner peace and destroy our positivity if we let them build up.
In fact most worry and anxiety is wasted emotional energy. Much of what we worry about actually never happens! And why worry about things we can’t change?
Luke 12:25 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
Mat 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
v7 God’s peace is the remedy. It guards our hearts and overrides troubles. Meditation on the Word of God will always bring peace. (Ps. 119:165) It’s an internal assuredness that steadies our hearts even in difficult times.
v8 Seven things we should be focusing on: whatever is
6. Of a good report
7. Has virtue
Are you in control of your thought life? Take time right now to think on something positive! :)
Remember: Win with the mind and you will succeed in life.
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Do I live from the standpoint of ‘Giving equals losing’? Or have I developed a generous attitude towards every area of my life?
Do I approach finding friends with the attitude of ‘I hope I’ll find people who will be good friends to me’, or do I give my friendship to others freely, assured that what I give out will come back to me?
Are my relationships/marriage based on getting my own needs met and what the other person has to offer me, or is it more about what I can give to others?
As churchgoers, every one of us has a choice to make. We can arrive just as church starts, park in our usual spot, make our way to our usual seat in our favourite row, watch a good service, chat with friends, and then go home. Or we can throw ourselves into the adventure by rolling up our sleeves, joining a team of like-minded servants, and helping to build the local church God has called us to be a part of.
Questions to think about (that we will all need to answer one day):
Where did it all go? (My time, energy, abilities, resources)
What did I spend it on?
What has been accomplished for eternity?
Matthew 13:44-46. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. 45Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!
In these two parables Jesus uses the language of business and the marketplace. The first man bought the whole field in order to gain the treasure. Despite paying all he had to purchase the field, he came out a winner. It was a similar story for the pearl merchant – the return was worth liquidating all his assets. Ever wanted anything so badly you were prepared to do anything to get it?
Our ‘buy in’ level to Christianity needs to be ‘all or nothing’ – the whole lot. We can’t expect to receive all God’s blessings if we’re not keeping up our part of the deal, or if we ignore whole chunks of the Bible regarding how we should be living. If your Christianity doesn’t cost you anything, you probably haven’t seen its full value yet. True faith and discipleship will require us to make some tough decisions at times.
We value most what we pay for with our own hard earned cash; how much we are willing pay for something shows how highly we value it. If we feel spiritually dry or dissatisfied with church, maybe it’s because we haven’t valued our walk with God enough to pay a price for it. If you want to get the most out of your Christian faith, you need to go for it 100%. ‘Selective Christianity’ doesn’t really work.
Luke 14:33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
‘There is only one thing God wants of us, and that is our unconditional surrender.’ (From ‘My Utmost For His Highest’ by Oswald Chambers.)
To live true faith out it will cost us. Some of the changes God will asks of us aren’t easy – we all have things we need to let go of, some of which may not even actually be ‘bad’ things in themselves. True disciples stick with God even through times of hardship and loss. But whatever we give up for the sake of following God, we’re better off without anyway – and any sacrifice we make is small in comparison to what He gave for us and what we receive from Him.
Jesus is our hidden treasure, our priceless pearl. How much of ourselves we surrender to Him reflects how much we value Him.
How much do I value my salvation – how much of my life have I surrendered to God? Am I still responsive to His promptings?
Are we going after the right dream? Are we putting our efforts into things that will take us to the places of greatest fulfilment? Do I know what God’s plans and dreams are for me? It is possible to be following the wrong dreams – dreams that will ultimately lead to disappointment. For example:
- Purely selfish dreams: can cause us to pursue good things in wrong ways
- Dreams that are only focused on material things
- Short-sighted dreams – only concerned with instant gratification
- Dreams that ignore the eternal consequences – we are building for eternity; we need an outlook that acknowledges the eternal nature of what we do with our lives
- Non relational dreams: ignoring the effect our lives have on other people
To have the right dreams, dreams that God can bless, we need to submit our lives, including our plans and dreams, to Him as part of the process of becoming a true disciple of Christ. There’s no way around it – discipleship will cost us. If we value the new life He’s blessed us with, we’ll do whatever He requires of us to live accordingly. How much of ourselves we surrender to Him reflects how much we value Him.
Mat 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Am I seeking God for His dreams for my life and living a life of daily discipleship?
The Israelites had been living in slavery to Egypt for some thousands of years. When God set them free through Moses’ leadership, their salvation had many dimensions. It’s the same with us – once we’ve been set free as we decide to follow Jesus, many areas of our lives are affected.
The Israelites left Egypt with gold and wealth – God‘s provision and blessing. God led them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night – His guidance. They left with God’s promise in their hearts to inspire them and spur them on – God’s dream.
Our Promised Land will be a place of:
Influence: God wanted to establish a nation that would influence others. He wants to move us into a place of positive influence.
Contentment: So many people spend their entire lives striving and fighting but never actually finding inner contentment – in fact we call ourselves the nation of the ‘Aussie battler’. But battles shouldn’t last forever – at some point we need to take command and win! There may be struggles along the way, but we also need to find the contentment that comes with victory.
Legacy: Finally this nation could now hand down land, houses, possessions, culture and faith – at last they were able to pass on a heritage to future generations. We have a heritage to give to others.
Destiny: God wants us to live with daily a sense of destiny – a place where we know our lives count for something worthwhile. Wherever you are in the journey, God knows your situation and is at work setting you up for a great future.
Community: As slaves they had been denied any opportunity to express their own particular lifestyle; now they were free to establish their unique ways of running family and community life. Our faith will be expressed in our family life and our church community.
Identity: When you are a slave, you are denied your own identity. God wants us to find our true identity in Him be the person we are really meant to be, not what the world tells us we should be.
Abundance: In this land of blessing they finally have more than enough. They went from
not having enough as slaves, to
having just enough in the wilderness to
having more than enough in the Promised Land. God wants us to have more than enough.
Hebrews 11: 10 (NLT)
10Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.
God’s blessings are custom designed and lasting.