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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Today’s Scrip-Bit 29 December 2016 Philippian 3:13.

Philippians 3:13.   Brethren, I count not my self to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.

And then it was Thursday, two days away from the great celebration of New Year’s Eve, with a smattering of fresh snow on the ground. It’s not a great deal, but sufficient to cause problems if we’re not careful. So please be careful on the roads this morning. 

And despite problems and otherwise, everybody is getting their dan-dan, (smile) their finery ready to go out and party and ring in the New Year with much pomp and ceremony. 

But here again, please, let’s just be careful while we’re having fun, because the slightest mistake whatever it may be, can cause disaster. And we certainly don’t want to ring in the New Year amidst a disastrous scene. 

Now here is a simple but interesting prayer I got from one of the Daily Bread Devotionals. Please pray with me: ‘Father, teach me to trust You for the strength to endure difficulties and the faith to wait for Your good purposes to be accomplished within me.’ 

Yeh friends, there’s nothing like trusting our heavenly Father and waiting with eager anticipation for His promises and purposes to be done in us, for spiritually we’re still a work in progress, and He’s continually molding and shaping us into reflections of His Son, Jesus Christ. 

No wonder Bruh Paul could declare in our Bit: ‘Brethren, I count not my self to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.’ 

Yes, he was still in that molding process. In spite of all his successes and achievements, Bruh Paul still felt he hadn’t attained that level of maturity and ‘knowing Christ,’ the way he wanted to. 

Consequently he stopped concentrating on what had gone before, accounting it all loss and dung to the wonderful privilege of advancing his knowledge in Christ in the foreseeable future. 

And to continue his noble search, he further declares after our Bit. ‘I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’ (Phil.3:14) 

That verse the scholars explain thus: ‘3:14. The mark is the objective of verses 10 and 11 (i.e. knowing Christ). The prize is the joyful personal satisfaction of having attained it, as well as the divine commendation and reward to be granted in heaven for having reached this goal on earth. The high calling of God is the divine summons extended to the believer for salvation.’ 

Oh my people, there can be no higher calling than that of God, which exists through Jesus Christ, bringing the wonderful gifts of grace called salvation and eternal life! 

Now the smart or wise thing for us all to do is to simply keep pressing on, reaching out for the prize, racking up rewards in heaven for the things we’ve done here on earth. 

And as Bruh Paul continues: ‘Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.’ (Phil3:15) 

And the scholars explain: 3:15. Be thus minded literally means “let us think this” or “let us hold this opinion.” Mature Christians must realize that they are not ethically perfect, but they tirelessly press onward for higher spiritual attainments (vv.13-14). 

There is present, then, a bit of irony: perfect (mature) believers are those who admit they are not perfect in any absolute sense. The apostle urges all mature Philippian Christians to hold his attitude; conceding that none has yet “spiritually arrived” but ever pressing on toward further development. 

If…ye be otherwise minded: The writer realizes that not all of the Philippian readers agree with this conviction of verses 12-15. But he is confident that God shall reveal their erroneous thinking to them.’ 

Likewise my faithful brethren, in these modern times we believers must also press on, seeking spiritual maturity in our earthly sojourn. And just like the Philippians, some of us might not agree with that path, but God will undoubtedly show us the error of our ways, if we don’t hold fast to that commitment. 

And Bruh Paul reminds us: ‘Nevertheless, whereto (to the degree that) we have already attained (arrived, reached), let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing (be of the same mind).’ (Phil.3:16) And that is simple common sense my people. 

But hear the scholars’ comments. ‘3:16. Whereto we have already obtained refers to whatever level of Christian knowledge and maturity the Philippians have attained since conversion. 

They are to walk by the same rule, that is, live in accord with the same level of knowledge and maturity, if God is going to give them further light. Fidelity to the truth possessed is a condition for receiving more.’ 

Yes friends, at whatever our level of spiritual maturity, that is the standard to which we must walk, if we want to eventually move up higher. 

So let’s go home with that in our minds and our Thursday Blessings being proclaimed by our tongues. Remember, a blessing is not a blessing until it’s been spoken over someone. 

Now in full voice and strong belief: ‘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 everyday! Amen!’ 

Oh friends, we are so blessed by our wonderful God, let’s go out and bless others nuh and thus glorify His Holy Name! Much LOVE!

…God won’t give us more…until He sees we can handle what we already have…

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 22 August 2015 Philippians 3:13

Philippians 3:13.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. 

Top o’ the morn, mih breddren! A glorious day lies ahead of us, filled with all sorts of wonderful goodies prepared by our wonderful God, especially for this Saturday in August 2015. Glory to God! 

He is so good to us that there are no words to truly do Him justice. Magnificent, majestic, magnanimous, mercurial, come close, but still leave something unsaid. His unconditional LOVE, and the undeserved blessings, mercies, forgiveness and compassion poured out on us, especially the sacrifice of His only Son Jesus… 

Oh Friends, they are indescribable. (smile) And the least we can do is return His LOVING-kindness with that of our own, to the best of our ability, through obedience, praise, worship, thanksgiving and glorification. 

And having said all of that, here is an interesting quote from Laura Palmer. It seems that she was a character on the 1990 hit TV. show Twin Peaks, which apparently is being revived.  I guess there is also a book called the Secret Diary of Laura Palmer with a number of her quotes. 

This one says that, ‘The past should be culled like a box of fresh strawberries, rinsed of debris, sweetened judiciously and served in small portions, not very often.’ 

And isn’t that the gospel truth my people. The past should not be dwelt upon, as so many of us do, thereby hampering the present and shortchanging the future.  Like Laura says, we ought to just wrap it up nicely and occasionally trot out the good parts. 

And my One More Day Devotional for People with Chronic Illness, from which I got the quote, further states. ‘Fond memories are healthy when they remind us how our lives are formed and shaped by our experiences. Memories reveal our development into the productive people we are today. Life does get better every day because we have both the joys of the present and some sweet memories of the past.’ 

But Friends, we MUST NOT LIVE IN THE PAST, but rather concentrate on each day as something new and alive with lots of wonderful promise. Too many of us look to the past too often and either dredge up the distasteful bits, or talk too much about the good old days. 

Certainly the old days were good, but believe me my people, our best days are still out in front of us. And until we realize this, our days will be gloomy and miserable reminiscing too much  on what’s already past, and not making new and wonderful dreams for today and tomorrow. 

That brings us to our very appropriate Bit from Bruh Paul to the Philippians. ‘Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.’ 

Yuh see that Friends, though Bruh Paul had reached some glorious heights in his ministry and walk with Jesus, he still maintained that he hadn’t reached where he really wanted to be. His objective is to know Christ as fully as can be; ‘experiencing His power, sharing His sufferings, being made like Jesus in death, and experiencing resurrection from the dead. 

At this point in his life the apostle does know Christ, but not to the full extent possible. He has experienced His power, but not to the degree he desires. He has been made like Jesus in His death, but can still die more to sin and self. He does “walk in newness of life,” but there is room for improvement.’ 

And so is there for all of us my fellow believers. Those are some explanations from the scholars on verse 12. Therefore since Bruh Paul has not attained his objective, he’s intent on putting everything behind him, so that he can concentrate on what is coming on the next wave.  

The scholars explain verse 13. thus: ‘3:13. Forgetting those things which are behind refers both to his religious credentials (vs. 5-6), now counted “as loss” (v.7), and to his past Christian achievements and successes. In ever pursuing his goal to know Christ, (v.10), he refuses to let past guilt pull him down, or to rest on past laurels. Either could spell spiritual disaster.’ 

Oh my fellow believers are we pursuing the things of Christ, pressing on towards the mark, reaching out to those things which are in front of us, not letting the past distract us from the future, wanting to know Christ so badly that we can think of nothing else? 

Oh, I know that not all of us can have Bruh Paul’s zeal, knowledge and perseverance, but we can all do much better than we’re currently doing. If we are truthful with ourselves, many of us are not really concentrating on maturing in our Christian walk, but are just ambling along, without any real zeal or purpose. That certainly is not good enough Friends. 

As believers in Christ, we have to have a hunger for Him, for the things which pertain to Him. ‘That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death.’ (Phil.3:10) That’s what Bruh Paul desired, and what we should also be desirous of; that strong feeling to get to know Christ as well as we possibly can. 

It’s not easy, as Bruh Paul certainly found out, but he never gave up on his quest, and neither should we, for as we know, all things are possible with Jesus who strengthens us. (Phil.4:13) 

So today my brethren, please let’s stop living in the past and look to the glorious future that Jesus has in store for us. Remember too what He said way back when, in talking about the tests of discipleship. ‘No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven.’ (Luke 9:62) 

Yes Friends, anyone who puts other matters before God’s work, is of little use to Him. Please don’t forget that, for it’s the wisdom of heaven!  Much LOVE!

…but his wife (Lot’s) looked back…and she became a pillar of salt… (Gen.19:26)