James 4:13-17 For What is Your Life?

James has finished his last topic of the tongue and now he turns to the next subject, wealth. To some degree this next section speaks to all of us because we all have our own financial responsibilities and obligations. We must all make certain business decisions and commitments. Christians are called to be different in this world. We should stand out in morals, in loving deeds, in ethics, in relationships, in work habits, in financial dealings, and even in business practices. We should handle our money and possessions differently than the rest of the society.

We will see that James has two sins to address. At issue first will be the sin of faithless living and the second issue will be what we can call “sins of omission.”

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POINT ONEV13. James gives us a common illustration here of every day life. It was common practice for Jews to travel for business. This is especially true under the Roman Empire of the 1st Century. There were good roads, peaceful relations between people, and safety enforced by the empire.

Yet, this Jewish practice, which would have been common for many people groups, can also stand for the whole of what we do as people; it is all about decision making.

There is nothing wrong with planning, traveling, dealing, or even profiting. The problem awaits a person when he/she does all of this outside of communication with God. James, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, teaches Christians to be in constant prayer with God and constant study of His Word. This is communication with God.

V15. “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’” James insists that people not simply state some magical formula to be in great relations with God, but to have an overall attitude, a mind-set, bent toward seeking God’s will in all areas of life.

Many times we seek God concerning what we estimate as big issues, yet the Scripture urges us to be in constant prayer and to abide in His Word. Why is that? It is to learn God’s will for our ever day lives. We should seek God’s will in our routines. We should seek God’s will in even the most seemingly mundane activities of life. We must seek God in our homes and we must seek God in the market place.

V16. It is arrogant to think that we can plan, function, and live without God. Our problem is we make all kinds of plans and then pray that God will bless them. Instead, we ought to pray first and study His Word regarding the matter in order to seek His will. Let Him first bless us with a plan rather than make our own plan and ask Him to bless it afterward. I hope you get that tid-bit.

V14. “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” This is the sound, agreeable teaching of all of Scripture and is part of seeing the Big Picture:
1. In one of Job’s answers to Eliphaz in 7:7 he says, “Oh, remember that my life is a breath!”
2. David also says in Psalm 39:5-6, “Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. SELAH
Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely they busy themselves in vain; He heaps up riches, And does not know who will gather them.”
3. See the parable Jesus taught in Lk 12:16-21. “This night your soul will be required of you…”

Lives during this present age are brief; they pass away day after day, moment after moment.
I have a professor that insisted for weeks for us to go outside during the mornings and see how long we have to live. He said that this is the time of year that we can best see the brevity of life.

Verses 13, 14, 15, and 16 are all about this one issue that Paul states clearly in one small phrase. See Roman 14:23 “and everything that is not from faith is sin.” When we go about our daily lives planning, dealing, working, and profiting without seeking out God’s will that is what I call faithless living.

A man told me this week that he is a Christian, but he doesn’t pray to God for supply he simply “shows up” every day and he finds that the supply is usually there. Well, to a certain degree God is going to take care of His children, but at the same time we are not free to eat, drink, be merry, travel to such and such a city to do business, build bigger barns, and treasure up for ourselves riches here without ever seeking out God’s will for our lives. That is faithless living. You see, “The just shall live by faith.”

Now are these things that could condemn someone? I would think that ultimately that is not out of the question. You can become so reliant on your self that you become hardened to child-like faith in God. When that happens you are bordering on apostasy, but what may be immediate is divine discipline. When you, as God’s child, decide that you will walk outside of His boundaries then He will discipline you, or me. And so “everything that is not from faith is sin.”

V17. It is a sin to know what is right and not do it. It is a “Sin of Omission.”
If we are to take the Lord into consideration in all of our planning then we have no excuse when it comes to not doing good. If we have sought His will then we will know what is right and if we do not do it then we sin. Ignorance of what is right is no excuse, especially when you know what is right…

I think James has made clear that sins of omission are just as serious and punishable as sins of commission. He says that we are at fault when we do not ask for wisdom, we are at fault when we neglect a brother or sister, we are at fault when we do not attempt to make peace and generally we are at fault when we know what is good and we do not do it. These are sins, sins of omission.

The Bible gives many examples of people who were rebuked for what they failed to do:
1. Lk 19:11-27 The third servant is rebuked for failing to profit with the mina he was given.
2. Matt 25:31-46 Jesus most clearly states, “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’”

We most often confess our sins to God of which we have done, but how often do we confess our sins to God of this we have not done? We sin everyday, not only by doing wrong things, but also by not doing certain things. We sin when we do not help a neighbor in need and we sin when we do not open our mouths when we know we should. We leave things out that we know are good. Those are sins of omission.

While I considered our first main point to be sin because of faithlessness it can also fall into the category of the second main point. It is sin to not seek God’s will in our plans and every day business. It is a sin of faithlessness, a sin of arrogance, and a sin of omission. All of God’s blessings are given by faith in His Son so we must trust Him in everything.

Let’s not store up treasures on earth because all we would be doing is storing up wrath for ourselves in the Day of Wrath. Instead, let us seek God’s will and store up treasures in heaven because our lives are but a vapor, yet there is One who has promised to make it eternal if only we will believe in Him.

James 4:1-12 Therefore Submit to God

As we continue our sermon series through the book of James we have learned that the Christians that he wrote to were a very arrogant, disorganized, rebellious, partial, and conflicted bunch. It has been loudly declared that Godly people should be doers of the Word, they should respect all persons, tame their tongues, seek after Godly wisdom in meekness, and now we face the issue of peacemaking. James began this next section in the very last verse of chapter three when he said, “Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” Christians must seek for peace and unity in all aspects of life. James really wants it for whole churches.

The NT urges believers “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” And we are even told that we will be blessed if we are peacemakers and will be called sons and daughters of God. Why is that? Because God is a God who wants peace and makes peace at all costs. “For it pleased the Father that in Him (The Son) all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Let’s take a look at this lengthy section and hear what God has to say to His people by His inspired Word.

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Point 1: Where do wars and fights come from among you? (vv1-2a)Wars and fights come from desires for pleasure that war our members. People lust and do not have. People murder and covet, yet they can not attain what they pleasure. And so people fight and war because of their unsatisfied desires for pleasure. What James is saying is simple: We destroy ourselves AND other people because we reject God as our highest satisfaction. We must treasure God for all that He truly is and love Him with everything that we are; “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.” As someone else has so clearly said, “If we were not willfully blind and rebellious against God as our all-supplying portion in this life and the next, we would not be so violent against others. The root cause of abuse/violence is the failure to be satisfied in God.”

Point 2: You do not have because you do not ask (vv2b-3)People ask amiss. People pray for worldly, selfish pleasures. I think we may all be guilty of this at some time or another. The Scripture teaches us over and over again to ask and it will be given. Let me recall some Scriptures for you:

1. Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened.
2. If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.
3. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
4. If two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done.
5. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

So you see, the Bible teaches that if what we ask for will be given to us. Yet, in each context of all of those verses the asker is to do so with a God-devoted mind. We can ask all day for our own self-indulgence, but God will not respond. We must ask in accordance with His Word, His name, and His purpose.

Point 3: Adulterers and Adulteresses (vv4-6)We are yoked to God and when we yield to our desires for pleasure we commit adultery. Do you see the picture that James is painting? People want something, or someone, that satisfies and so they go to God not to let Him satisfy them, but to ask Him for the means to get to something else. Then they leave God behind to go seek satisfaction from that other thing! That is why they are bluntly called adulterers and adulteresses. See Colossians 1:21. People make themselves enemies in their own minds. The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously (v5). God is a jealous God. See Exodus 34:14. Wrath falls down from heaven on all idol worship. God is a jealous God and cannot allow His people to use and abuse Him by running to another. He created us to love and admire Him alone. Psalm 16:11 says, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” That is what God wants for us! What a blessing it is to belong to a God who gives grace. We are so sinful, rebellious, full of lust, greed, and selfishness, yet He continues to give us grace when we humbly return to Him.

Point 4: Therefore Submit to God (vv7-10)
Our first priority is not to resist the devil, but is to submit to God. This is what the younger generations of our society have the most problem with today. They don’t like to idea of submitting to anyone and that includes God Almighty. Secondly, we should resist the devil. For me, this is an active resistance. I have known a handful of people that tucked their tail every time Satan came up in a discussion. Satan is intelligent, cunning, crafty, and we should not overlook him, but we must understand “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 Jn 4:4).” We need to draw near to God because on the outside we are sinners and it’s because on the inside we are double-minded. We say that we are yoked to God, yet we worship our own desires. Only when we draw near to God, will He draw near to us and because of ourselves and the devil we need God to draw near to give us more grace. V9 is all about repentance. Jesus said in Matthew 5:4, the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” Does God want His people to be continually sad. Well, not in the sense that we would naturally think. God wills that we would realize how sinful we are and mourn over that fact. We should be people that mourn over sin and not turn a blind eye. This is my weakness. I turn a blind eye to easily to my own sin and the sins of others. Sin murders people! Sin destroys families! Sin destroys churches (which is one of James main points in this section). Sin separates us from God… LAMENT and MOURN and WEEP!!! V10 we are instructed to humble ourselves. What is the reason for humbling ourselves in the sight of the Lord? Because God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. (And, by the way, going back to last week we know that Godly wisdom causes meekness and humility).

Point 5: Do Not Speak Evil of One Another (vv11-12)In our sinful arrogance, we set ourselves up as the end all and be all. We spend so much time saying who is saved and who is not. We waste so much time deciding and then declaring who is more sinful than another. Who are we to judge? There is One Judge, He is the Lawgiver who is able to save and destroy. “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5). Speaking evil of others is exactly the type of proud arrogance that God resists. It is to slander someone else. The real problems arise and become most harmful when people question authority and when someone slanders another in secret. Quarrels on any issue usually end up in personal attacks which can destroy a church.

At the end of our main text James brings back into the picture the Law and our brothers (or neighbors). Remember what was said in 2:8 “If you really fulfill the Royal Law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well” which pointed us back to Leviticus 19:18 “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” This tells me that James is focused on the unity of the church with the one preeminent component being love.

I think we can say that we must fully put away our own selfish desires for pleasure if we ever want to be what God wants us to be. What is the only way of doing that? We need to draw near to God and make Him our supreme treasure, love, joy, pleasure; our supreme satisfaction. Blessed, happy, and satisfied are God’s people for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, they shall be comforted, they shall inherit the earth, they shall be filled, they shall obtain mercy, they shall see God, they shall be called sons of God, theirs is the kingdom of heaven! Let us be people who mourn over sin (especially our own), people who submit to God, and people who draw near to God through the precious blood of Christ Jesus and He will give us grace upon grace. Then we can do mighty things with a united front, in this community, for His name!

James 3:13-18 Wisdom From Above

Part of being a wise Christian is seeing the big picture. Every human being can see the small pictures that are all around us, but Godly wisdom allows us to see the big picture. This wisdom only comes from above and can not be found here. Many of us bounce back and forth between the big picture and all of the small ones. Arguments, divorces, ongoing feuds, bitter envy, selfishness, church splits, and all of the like come from people only seeing the small pictures. It is easy to focus in on miniscule details which instigate complaining and arguing, but it is very difficult to consistently look at the big picture. And when we are focusing on the big picture, all of the small stuff will pass away, unnoticed.

Wisdom is a subject that all cultures deal with in some way. For the Greco/Roman world it was an ideal; something to be discussed and meditated upon, but ultimately never amounted to anything. For the Jews, wisdom was something that was from above and was to influence everyday life. Godly wisdom was/is for them, practical. James teaches that wisdom is essentially practical and will be see by our attitude and behavior.

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Point 1: Earthly WisdomWhat characterizes earthly wisdom which allows us to only see the small pictures?
Hearts are full of “Bitter Envy and Self-Seeking.” Also it is “earthly, sensual, and demonic.”

Bitter envy is full of jealousy, greed, resentment, and spite. Really it all points to Selfishness. Part of that big picture is that all sin boils down to selfishness. We are sinful, fallen, weak creatures that only seek after what is best for us as individuals. Think of all of the sin in your life at certain times in the past or even today. What one word describes that sin perfectly? Selfishness

First, this wisdom is earthly. It “does not descend from above.” Earthly wisdom is limited and does not look outside of our own little bubble to see the entire, beautiful world that God has created.
Second, earthly wisdom is sensual, that is to say unspiritual in every way. There is no faith involved and those who are full of earthly wisdom only function by what they can see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. Most people live in a world where human reason and human feeling reign supreme. This is the opposite of what God intends for us.
Lastly, earthly wisdom is demonic. This is the climax. Earthly wisdom is of the devil. Satan intends for us to focus on this world, live by our senses, and obey his influence. All of these things limit us and force us to only see the small pictures which cause “confusion and every evil”

False wisdom, which does not lead to “good conduct and meekness,” is characterized by the world, the flesh, and the demons. This is in stark contrast to “the wisdom that is from above” which is noted as heavenly in nature, spiritual in essence, and has a divine origin.

Point 2: Godly WisdomWhat characterizes Godly wisdom which allows us to see the big picture?
Good Conduct and Meekness

First, wisdom from above is PURE. There are no corrupt motives in Godly wisdom. The next seven words given in the list are all specific aspects of the overall purity of Godly wisdom.
1. Peaceable: peace-loving “Blessed are the peacemakers”
2. Gentle: considerate “I am gentle and lowly in heart”
3. Willing to Yield: submissive “Submit to one another”

4. Full of Mercy: impartial “For I desire mercy” and “Blessed are the merciful”
5. Full of Good Fruits: sincere “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit”

6. Without Partiality: favoritism “Do not hold the faith with partiality”
7. Without Hypocrisy: doubleness “He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways”

The main point that I would like to get across with this sermon is (v13) that Godly wisdom inspires a person to live a life of good conduct that springs from the meekness of wisdom. If you can see the big picture then it does not matter if you have more education than another, it does not matter if you have more money than another, it does not matter if you have more experience than another, and it doesn’t even matter if you have less sin than another. The big picture causes meekness (humility). That is why the Scripture teaches in both the OT and the NT that the meek are the people who will inherit the earth. The meek are God’s people.

1. The prophets proclaimed this in the days of old such as Zephaniah in 2:3 (p1528).
2. Also in 3:12 God says through the prophet that the faithful remnant that would be left preserved would be people who were meek and humble.
3. The last thing I would like to show you is a clear teaching from both testaments.
Look at Psalm 37:11 and Matthew 5:5.

James has already said in this letter that we need Godly wisdom that only comes from above. The great fact of the matter is that God freely gives this wisdom if only we will ask. Look at 1:5.

Verse 18 shows James main point in this section. He wants them to know that peace in the community of believers is attainable. A church can be in full harmony and constantly seeing the big picture, but it can only come by Godly wisdom. So let us seek out wisdom and understanding, let us be people who are characterized by unselfishness, love, and humility. Then we will be a people who know the peace of God the surpasses all understanding. It is attainable if only we will ask, seek, and knock. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

James 3:1-12 Beware of the Tongue

In chapter two of James verses fourteen through twenty-six, which we covered last, there was much discussion on good works. A thorough explanation was given to the effect that Christian behavior is a direct result of God’s working in a believer. If you don’t have a heart for the helpless and needy of this world, especially your fellow Christians, then there is a problem. If you do not do everything you can when you see a brother or sister in need then James says your faith is dead. And we know that faith is the only means of accessing grace, justification, righteousness, and salvation from the wrath that is to come.

Now James moves from a discussion or works to something that is closely related- words. We will see how dangerous the tongue can be and that is why I have titled the sermon, “Beware of the Tongue.” James will start by warning teachers and those who want to teach, then describe the might of something so small, the difficulty in controlling the tongue, and finally give the evidence of an evil tongue. This subject has relevance for Christians of all times.

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Teachers Beware of the Tongue (vv1-2)
James introduces the next issue by warning those people who want to be teachers. He also includes himself in the discussion. He uses the word “we” and speaks of teachers first, which includes him as a pastor/teacher.
1. There shouldn’t be many teachers
First of all, there can’t be that many that are qualified. Second, the work of a teacher is drastically different than say an early church prophet. A prophet was given a direct revelation from the Lord of what to say to the assembly. A teacher is entrusted with the responsibility of expounding the truth of the Gospel found in Scripture. There is more freedom for a teacher and more room to fail and be found guilty of the horrible sin of false teaching.
2. Teachers will be judged more strictly
All will be judged by the words of their mouth, especially teachers.
b. A few weeks ago Vernon brought up the verse that says we will be judged by every idle word. Let’s look at (Matt 12:36). This is the verse the haunted me growing up! And don't forget the verse that says, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” (Lk 12:48)
3. We all stumble, especially in word
Do you know what one of the marks of a fool is in Proverbs? “A fool’s mouth is his undoing and his lips are a snare to his soul.” (Pr 18:7) The goal is to be mature, yet this cannot be done without God’s working.

A concern about people wanting to teach leads James into a general warning about the tongue. The concern is not to talk people out of teaching who are called and gifted for it, but to impress the seriousness of that task upon those people. Then, by extension, there is a warning given to the entire church about the seriousness of speech.

The Tongue is Incredibly Powerful (vv3-6)
v5 summarizes this next point- “The tongue is a little member and boasts great things.”
Can something so small have such a massive impact, Can it really impact our spiritual condition?
Each of these next few illustrations were known widely in the ancient world and are still well-known in the modern world.
1. Small bits in Horse’s mouths steer the large animals
2. Large ships are turned by small rudders, despite strong winds
3. A little fire kindles an entire forest
This last illustration bridges us to the next section. The tongue has great, destructive potential. In fact your tongue can defile your whole body, your whole life. The tongue has the power to condemn a person. It is not surprising that James uses this wild-fire illustration for his next point. The OT compares the speech of a scoundrel to a “burning fire.” (Pr 16:27) The Bible often uses fire as a symbol for destruction. So not only can the tiny tongue to considerable things, but it also the potential to cause considerable damage. It appears that what James is getting at is that the tongue, our speech, can actually destroy true Christianity. It can destroy entire churches. “It defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.”

The tongue boasts this great power and the frightening thing is that it is difficult to control; as we all know.

Powerful as it is, the Tongue is Extremely Difficult to Control (vv7-8)
It is unusually demanding and challenging to control the tongue. The sinful nature that inspires evil words is beyond our control. This was already touched on in verse two. As said before, only by the work of sanctification by God’s Spirit can we rid ourselves of this problem.
1. Many things can be tamed, but not the tongue
2. The tongue is an unruly evil
3. The tongue is full of deadly poison

The Tongue’s Sinfulness is Evidenced by “Doubleness” (vv9-12)
Remember in 1:8 when James condemned doubleness?
1. Bless God, Curse Men
What hypocrisy it is to praise God and curse men who are created in His image.
2. Does a spring send forth fresh and bitter water from the same opening?
3. Can a fig tree bear olives or a grapevine figs?

There is no greater example of this type of doubleness than the Pharisee in the Lord's parable of Luke 18:9-12.

Sins of the tongue can destroy you, others, a church. Thoughtless chattering, lying, arrogant boasting, gossiping, and slandering are all examples of destructive speech. There is no room for this in the Christian life, especially in the church. We must be careful what comes out of our mouth. James said in chapter one, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

Philippians 3:7-16 Reaching Forward

78th Homecoming, 2010

I am glad that we can be here together today and I know that we will be ready to eat in just a short amount of time, but I have an important message to deliver. This sermon is simple, yet it is of great concern for Christians under our current circumstances. There is a problem that isn’t exactly new, but it has grown in recent decades among churches in this country. What the Apostle has to say in Philippians can begin to cure the problem when we realize that we are not where we need to be just yet, even the most mature Christians among us.

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Point 1: The Problem
In a 1949 book a Christian writer stated the problem clearly when he wrote, “The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless… Christ may be ‘received’ without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is ‘saved,’ but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God… We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him we need no more seek Him.”

It is a mistake first to think that we have found Christ. Christianity teaches a doctrine that says that God has first sought after people, God has first loved people. Before we can do anything there is what is called prevenient grace, that is to say that God did and always will act first and people act secondly in response.

*1 John 4:19 “We love Him because He first loved us.”
*Genesis 3:6-9 “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”
*Luke 19:10 “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

It is another mistake to think that once Christ has been made known to you and that you have responded appropriately that you have been made perfect instantaneously. With this mind you will not hunger nor thirst for anything. Jesus said in Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” The Apostle says in our text, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected” and then “I do not count myself to have apprehended.” Something more is needed. A hunger and thirst for something more…

This problem is found in individual hearts of people, including Christians, but it is also found in our churches as a whole. Found among American churches today are programs, entertainment structures, and a load of anxious activities that fill a gap of time and steal our attention, but these things can never satisfy our souls.

Point 2: The Answer
What we need is a longing for more, for greater, for something higher…
What we need is a longing for God, a longing for Christ Jesus.

The Apostle had gained the knowledge of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, the power of Christ, the fellowship of Christ and the glory of Christ, but says that he was not finished. There are great blessings given to us when we first are united with Christ, but that is only the beginning of what is life eternal studying Him, loving Him, worshipping Him, and treasuring Him.

In verse 8 the original language shows that the Apostle deliberately chose one phrase over another. Instead of saying “these things” he used “all things.” All things that could rival the surpassing greatness of Christ, including what has previously been named, can in no way be equated. All things are rubbish in comparison to Christ. In verse ten he says that he wants to know Christ. Well, Christ has already been known to him. What does he want now? He wants to know more of Him, he wants to know Him better, more fully, all of the power of His resurrection and His death and His life.

Moses, a man that knew but wanted to know:
Exodus 33:13 “Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight.” This wasn’t the first time Moses spoke with the LORD and surely he had already found grace, yet he wanted more. And in verse 18 Moses says, “Please, show me Your glory.” We must be people that have walked with the LORD for years, seen marvelous things, known Christ, experienced His faithfulness, and want MORE!

V14 The question is, what are we reaching forward to? What is the prize? What is at the end of the race? The answer is Christ Jesus! We are forward to Him, He is the goal and the prize, He is at the end of the race. He offers salvation, life, love, blessings, all of the treasures of God are in Him. The upward call of God is possibly the picture of a winner being invited to the elevated stage to receive the prize. God stands in the person Jesus and ushers us into His presence.

We all have a past that is filled with both short-comings and accomplishments, but we should not let either control our future. If we are constantly revisiting our faults from the past we will never progress into the future with any sort of joyfulness. If we exult in the successes of the past and never prepare nor work into the future we will never know that there are greater victories ahead. Now, does this mean that we blot out our pasts? Certainly not! We should let our past mistakes teach us and our past successes encourage us, yet we are fully aware that there are better triumphs ahead. Learn and be encouraged by your past, but don’t let it control your life now or into the future. The same can be said of Fort Trial Christian Church. There have been some short-comings, but there have also been some great things done in the many years of its history. Let us learn and be encouraged by our history with full attentiveness to the fact that God has even greater things ahead for those who love Him. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Paul, and all of Scripture for this matter, view Jesus as having riches bound up in Him that are endless (Col 2:3). We will spend all of eternity getting to know Him better and the better we know Him, the better we know God.

We must all live up to what we already know. If you don’t fully understand the treasures of Christ now continue to seek knowledge of Him, continue to seek the power of his resurrection, and continue to seek to fellowship with His sufferings even being conformed to His death and the Scripture says that God will clearly reveal to you the beauty of His Son, the splendor, wonder, and riches that are only found in Him.

Let us…
1. Have a willingness to take risks (faith adventures).
2. Develop our spiritual gifts so that we can serve better.
3. Dream out into the future of how we can use our lives to glorify God.
4. Have a willingness to sacrifice in the present for a prize in the future.
5. Be satisfied, yet not satisfied at the same time.

Fort Trial Christian Church will press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God and we will do so by looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.