Phil. 3:4b-14

Somewhere along the line, we have most likely learned about the concept of cause and effect.

This process is the relationship between two things when one thing makes something else happen.

However this process can have many layers with multiple causes and multiple effects.

When we begin our day with the reading of the Holy Scriptures, we set our cause upon the desires of Christ and the Word of God.

For the Christian who desires righteousness and communion with God, the effect will be going deeper into relationship, by beginning the day focused on God’s desires instead of our own.

When we set our cause on Christ, the effect is the Kingdom of God.

When we set our hearts on Christ, the effect is love that is overflowing, spilling out and reaching to everyone we encounter.

As we encounter others, Christ’s love in our hearts is the cause of our relationships and desires to share that love, and the effect is souls who are hungry and thirsty for more of God and less of self.

The cause of prayer can be multifaceted.
Intercession, prayer for the needs and healing of others, can be the cause as well as the effect.

Thanksgiving for God’s goodness and healing can be the cause of prayer, and the effect can be a greater appreciation for the gifts we have received from God.

Questioning God can lead to answers and a deeper meaning in life.

Worshipping God is an effect of our desire for God as well as the effect of our Purpose for living.

We all need to find our purpose in life.

There are primary purposes and secondary purposes.

Our primary purpose is to worship God.

Our secondary purpose may be striving to be a good parent, a good teacher, doctor, nurse, first responder, pastor, member of the body of Christ, etc.

Fulfilling our purpose is the cause of joy in our life.

When I fulfill my purpose as a good wife, I am effecting a good marriage, filling our home with love and joy that is boundless.

When I fulfill my purpose as a good Pastor, I lend an empathetic ear, I immerse myself in the Word, I help to teach the next generation, I become a partner in the ministry of the calling to which I have responded.

Paul was a man who loved God tremendously.
He was steeped in the Word of the law.
He was bound by the law.
He was born in Tarsus as a Roman Citizen which gave him certain rights and privileges.
Paul was of Jewish heritage who followed in his Father’s footsteps, being a Pharisee, with discipline and zeal.

His purpose was to teach, maintain, and preserve the law.
Jesus seemed to get in his way, so he persecuted Jesus’ followers…

Until God changed his purpose into zeal for the Lord instead of the law.

He met the real Jesus on the road to Damascus.
He was then called Saul who was struck by a brilliant light, fell to the ground, heard a voice from heaven identified as the voice of Jesus asking, “Why do you persecute me?” He ended up blind being led by his companions toward Damascus (Acts 9).

God gave Ananias a purpose in the effect of giving Saul real sight.

Sight that would not just see the world through the eyes of the law, but see the real Jesus through love, forgiveness, compassion, and healing as a result of an encounter with the Holy Spirit.
While he spent 3 days with the disciples in Damascus, he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”

God must have had great love for Saul, in order to cause such a wonderful effect in his heart.

Paul claims that he wants to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow he could attain the resurrection from the dead.

Wow! That is powerful!

Christ’s cause was to come to Earth to save us from our sins, how great, or how small.

His effect was the public witness of the Resurrection, the power of life over death, victory over evil, and love over suffering.

What does our Holy Spirit power look like?

Do we live in it?

Do we take advantage of it?

Do we seek more of it?

Or are we satisfied with what we have?

How much do we want to be like Jesus?

How much do we want to share is cause and effect the lives of others who are wandering aimlessly, not even aware of their true purpose?

Sometimes we let our distractions get in the way of our purpose.

Commitments, problems, deadlines, obstacles, and, priorities, get in the way of fulfillment with our walk with God.

Sometimes God’s goodness doesn’t seem to be within our grasp.

But that is what happens when our relationship with God is not our first priority.

By human nature, many of us want our lives to be full and prosperous.

Advertisers know about this basic human desire we have.

They tempt us to make purchases to make our lives easier or more wealthy.

But there is more to life than monetary prosperity which is never fully satisfying.

There is also spiritual prosperity.

A life that is full of the riches of the Kingdom of God even while we are still living in the flesh.

The apostle Paul teaches us about receiving the Power of Jesus Christ.

He urges us to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The power of God is within our grasp.

If we would learn to follow Paul’s example here in this scripture, we could learn to make the most of every opportunity and live each day of our lives to the fullest.

Some of our members have their whole lives ahead of them and can dream about where you want to go, while others look back at their lives and can evaluate how far you’ve come.

But I’ve learned in over 20 years of ministry, that no matter where we are in life, even if we are only at half the capacity of our youth, still getting the gusto out of life is important to most people.

Paul shows us three simple ways in these verses to live a more fulfilling life.

The first one I have already mentioned, which is finding your true purpose.

If you look at the primary purpose of an ink pen for example, it might be to write a thank you note to someone, send them a card, make a shopping list, a to do list, write a musical score, or write a check.

I have a $6.00 pen that is out of ink.
It may be pretty to look at, but it is a failure as a pen because it cannot fulfill its purpose.
Even though it’s purchase price was much greater than a dollar store pen, it is useless.

So when it comes time to write that thank you note, I’m going to have to use my dollar store pen.

This is certainly an over simplified illustration, but just as a pen has a primary purpose, every individual that God has created has a primary purpose.
Our lives will be without meaning – we’ll be failures – unless we know what our primary purpose is…
In other words, our reason for living.

It doesn’t matter whether our net worth is a million dollars, or we are living pay check to pay check.

Our lives can have the exact same purpose when we live for God as our primary reason for our existence.

Paul stated his reason for living in verses 10 and 11.

Paul is saying “I want to know Christ so that I may be like Him.”
Paul’s primary reason for living was to be like Jesus.
This is also to be our primary reason for living if we truly want to be a Christian.

There’s a second step Paul shows us in Phil.3. to develop the ability to “seize the power” from verse 13.
Every day of our lives, he says we must forget what was behind us.
There are two elements of the past that we must forget.

First: “Forget the Bad.”
Paul, just like all of us had a past to forget.
His past was most likely much much worse than our past.
He had tortured and murdered many innocent people.
He had caused a lot of pain and had done much damage to the cause of Christ.

But, now he was faced with a choice.
He could either dwell on his mistakes and let them ruin his life and his chance for effective ministry, or he could forget all about them and move on with his new life in Christ Jesus.

Just like Paul had to make a choice, so do we.
Maybe you’ve had a bad experience just lately or maybe you did something long ago that you regret.
Maybe the memories keep coming back to haunt you from living a full life today.

There’s nothing you can do to change it.
The only thing that you can do is, “Forget it and move on.”

God is willing to forget about the mistakes of our past.
And God wants us to do the same!!!

That is the power of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In Isaiah 43:25 God speaks, “I will remember your sins no more.”

In Jeremiah 31:34 God is speaking, “I will forgive their iniquity, and remember
their sins no more.”

Now in forgetting the past, we must not only forget the bad, but we must also stop zeroing in on a few good aspects and spend the rest of our lives trying to relive those moments.

I’m sure many baby boomers would love to go back to the days when tv shows were funny without being vulgar and music lyrics were full of love instead of hatred.

If we only focus on history without addressing the needs of our current society, we will have no cause and no effect.

Dwelling on the past is not going to accomplish anything if we don’t put our energy into the future.

I’m sure it is pleasant to reminisce about the days when church pews were full of
people who desired to worship and serve the Lord.

Utilizing the Power of God, we need to look at ways to cause people to have that same desire so that we can effect a change in our situation right now instead of keeping our eyes focused on days gone by.

Paul knew that a good past was not enough to guarantee a meaningful future.

Paul says “I will not live in the past.
My reason for living is to be like Jesus, and whatever happened yesterday, good or bad, is now ancient history.
I will live for Jesus today.”

One thing we can know for certain is this, “God never consults your past to determine your future.”

This leads us to the third thing found in these scriptures to help us have a more fulfilling life right now.

That is to face the present (v.13).
It is easy to live in the past.
And it is easy to dream away the future.
It’s a real challenge to face the present, because it means we can no longer allow ourselves the luxury of saying, “One of these days I’ll do something about my temper … my commitment to God … my health … my responsibility to my family … and so on.

Most of us have no problem believing that Christ performed many miracles in the past, and the greatest one of them all, dying on the cross, and raising from the dead on the third day.

We also have no problem believing, that in the future He is coming back again to take us home with Him.

But, why is it we have such a problem believing Him at His Word in the Present Day?

Maybe we need to write the scripture from Hebrews 13:8 on our foreheads…
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

And emphasize TODAY!

Facing the present means that we put our faith in Jesus Christ, and trust Him to be involved in every part of our lives.

Facing the present means that we choose to live life as it comes to us day by day.
Not in the past, not in the future, but right here and right now.

God does not want us to waste our lives away.
God wants us to “seize the power” and live every day of our lives with a purpose.
God has given us a reason for living and that reason is to be like Jesus.

It’s not going to happen yesterday, so we must forget the past.
We can’t put it off until tomorrow, because tomorrow never comes.
It has to happen right now, and it will – if we will Seize The Power of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and make it our own. Today!

Amen!