Suggested Scripture Reading: Philippians 3!
Focal Passage: 12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
It’s that time of year again…time for that list of things we’re going to do to improve our lives…New Year’s Resolutions. We all make them and we all break at least some of them, but we try again. I read recently where some take the easy way out:
“I’m going to eat more and exercise less”…or the more humorous route…
”I’m going to be more positive and less sarcastic; like I really have a shot at keeping that one”.
Whatever the case, most of us would like to do something to make our lives better in the coming year. Billy Graham recently stated some of his biggest regrets and what he would do to change them if he could. This one really struck me:
“I would spend more time studying the Bible and meditating on its truth, not only for sermon preparation but to apply its message to my life.”
That one immediately went to the top of my resolution list: I’m going to spend more time in God’s Word. Imagine how far that would go in helping us keep the rest of our list! Think back on your time in God’s Word this year…is there room for improvement?
I read recently where Rick Warren was asked what the best Bible Translation was. His answer was, “When you translate it into your life.” That’s what Bible Study is supposed to be about, isn’t it? I mean, if we’re not applying it to our lives, we’re not using it the right way. I find myself slipping into that trap. Many times most of my study time is spent preparing a Sunday School lesson instead of determining what God want’s me to do with His word. James tells us:
But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. James 1:22-24
And Paul makes it pretty clear in 2nd Timothy:
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
In other words, James says we’re to stop yakking about it and do it…and Paul says we have everything we need to be better. Let’s go back to the focal passage. Paul realized a responsibility to pursue a greater personal knowledge of our Lord…an intimacy…a conformity to Jesus and holiness. He viewed his experience as that of a runner…not looking back. He didn’t mean that he refused to remember the things he did in the past, he just didn’t have to dwell in them. He had abandoned the goal he had in the past. Now he had a new goal toward which he was looking and running.
If we truly desire to be more like Jesus…to know Him more intimately, what better possible way could there be than to spend more time with Him…in prayer, and IN HIS WORD? May god bless each and every one of us in the coming year as we strive to conform to His likeness.