Today’s Scrip-Bit   28 July 2022 Philippians 3:14.

Philippians 3:14.      I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

And then it was Thursday, the penultimate day in our workweek, but around here in the Greater Toronto area, not many people are thinking of work, but of the upcoming Caribana weekend and the Simcoe holiday on Monday. Yes friends, this is T.O’s big weekend, where it’s parties galore and the big street parade on Saturday. Oh, sorry, I believe I called the celebration by the wrong name. It’s now something like Toronto Caribbean Carnival, or some such moniker, because of the legal dispute over the ownership of the ‘Caribana’ name. But call it what they will, it will always be popularly known as ‘Caribana.’ End of story! (smile) 

Now, today we are going to consider an interesting writing from our One Year Book of Bible Promises authored by Ruth Harms Calkin, titled ‘It Takes a Lifetime.’ Please read with me. ‘How I LOVE the words of the apostle Paul. ‘I don’t mean to say…that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. 

No, dear brothers and sisters. I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.’ (And it’s noted there that that passage comes from the New Living Translation of Phil. 3:12-14.) 

But then the writing continues: ‘What tremendous encouragement! Paul, who knew Jesus Christ so intimately, whose consuming desire was to please Him, who endured illness, imprisonment, shipwreck, beatings, mockery, and heartache all for the sake of Christ – this very same Paul confessed he hadn’t “arrived.” God was still growing him! I see again, while my conversion took but a moment, my growth takes an entire lifetime. In God’s great wisdom and knowledge He anticipates the finished product while He LOVINGLY takes me through the long, long process.’ 

And is that ever the glorious though difficult truth my fellow believers! It certainly is! Yes, coming to Christ takes but a moment, but becoming like Christ takes an entire lifetime because it is not an easy process. And that is what a lot of us don’t seem to understand. God’s eventual purpose is to make us all over in the image of Christ, as the Good Book says: ‘For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren.’ (Rom. 8:29) 

And to be made over into anything at all doesn’t happen overnight, and to be made like Christ…brother! That will obviously take ages! And, as the writing intimates, if Bruh Paul was so closely involved with Christ, knew Him so intimately and still didn’t consider himself ‘arrived,’ then it’s obvious that those of us who are not as intimate still have a long way to go. As Bruh Paul says in 2 Corinthians. ‘But we all, with open (unveiled) face beholding as in a glass (mirror) the glory of the Lord, are changed (transformed) into the same image (that of Christ) from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.’ (2 Cor. 3:18) 

Yes, it’s the Lord’s Spirit that transforms us into Christ’s likeness from glory to glory or step by step, not all at once. And Bruh Paul assures us earlier on in his missive to the Philippians: ‘Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it (complete it) until the day of Jesus Christ.’ (Phil. 1:6) Oh isn’t that wonderful to know my brethren! God will not stop transforming us into the image of His Son, until his Son comes back to take over His kingdom! Glory Hallelujah! 

That’s why these words of Bruh Paul are so important. And we’ll read them in the more powerful King James version. (smile) ‘Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended (arrived): but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’ (Phil. 3:13-14) 

And all of that simply means that he has given up all his earlier accolades, like his great education and position as a powerful Pharisee, in his determined pursuit to know the risen Christ. As he also said earlier on the same letter: ‘But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ….and do count them but dung (rubbish) that I may win Christ.’ (Phil. 3:7-8) So knowing and winning Christ, and the divine prize, that’s ‘the joyful and personal satisfaction of having attained it,’ is all that he was then focused on. 

And it’s all that we should also be focused on, truly knowing Christ should be our life’s goal. So much so that when we come to the end of this earthly stage of life, we can say like Bruh Paul did to Timothy. ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course (race), I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto them also that LOVE his appearing (eagerly await His second coming).’ (2 Tim. 4:7-8) 

Now that’s what we ought to be working towards! And let’s hope that those scriptures we’ve considered this morning will light, or relight the flame in our souls and spirits for Christ, so that we can sincerely put our best foot forward and do His divine bidding with excellence, diligence and a true sense of purpose. And to help us do that, let’s go home now declaring (awright!!!) our Thursday Blessings, which have been so generously bestowed on us to enable us to do our earthly work. 

Altogether now: ‘I declare that I am blessed with God’s supernatural wisdom and receive clear direction for my life! I declare today that I am blessed with creativity, courage, talent and abundance! I am blessed with a strong will, self-control and self-discipline! I am blessed with a great family, good friends, good health, faith, favour and fulfillment! 

I am blessed with success, supernatural strength, promotion and divine protection! I am blessed with a compassionate heart and a positive outlook on life! I declare that any curse or negative word that’s ever been spoken over me is broken right now in the name of Jesus! I declare that everything I put my hands to, will prosper and succeed! I declare it today and every day! Amen!’ 

And having activated those blessings by declaring (steups!!!) them aloud, we must now go out and generously use them in winning souls for Christ! Much LOVE!

…we can’t sincerely press toward the heavenly prize…unless the flame of Christ burns brightly in us… 

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