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                   Galatians 6:9 (NASB)


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High Calling

This is a brief excerpt of the sermon given by Pastor Alexander Thomas during the Watch Night Service on Wednesday, December 31st, 2014 at the International Church, Atlanta, Georgia.

This New Year 2015 message was taken from Philippians  4:13-14
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

In these verses here in Philippians chapter 3, we find the Apostle Paul taking a spiritual inventory of his life. The wise man and the wise congregation will look back on the past and will learn from it. We will do our best to see that we are never again guilty of repeating the same mistakes. Yes, we all do things wrong. But, we should be wise enough to learn from those things so that we will never be guilty of them again.

Paul did not count himself as having yet attained—he was not yet perfect. Perfection is the great end of the believer. No person achieves perfection on this earth. God has apprehended or laid hold of the believer for one reason only: to perfect the believer—to make him perfect so that he can live and worship and serve Christ forever. We are perfect because of our eternal union with the infinitely perfect Christ. When we become his children, we are declared "not guilty" and thus righteous because of what Christ, God's beloved Son, has done for us. This perfection is absolute and unchangeable, and it is this perfect relationship that guarantees that we will one day be completely perfect.

When Christ returns to take us into his eternal Kingdom, we will be glorified and made completely perfect.

Three Parts to This One Thing:
 1. I forget the ground I have covered in the race (1Cor. 9:24-27). I cannot waste time over the past (Php. 3:13).

THE PAST
Paul had reason to forget the past—he had held the coats of those who had stoned Stephen, (Acts 7:57, 58,). We have all done things for which we are ashamed, and we live in the tension of what we have been and what we want to be. Because our hope is in Christ, however, we can let go of past guilt and look forward to what God will help us become. Don't dwell on your past. Instead, grow in the knowledge of God by concentrating on your relationship with him now. Realize that you are forgiven, and then move on to a life of faith and obedience. Paul worked at forgetting the past. This is a verse that is of enormous help to believers who have failed God—miserably failed Him. Paul had so failed God, and he was always confessing how far short he came (Romans 7:18-19; 2 Cor. 3:5; Ephes. 3:8).

"Forgetting those things which are behind" Paul had reason to forget the past—he had held the coats of those who had stoned Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:57, 58). We have all done things for which we are ashamed, and we live in the tension of what we have been and what we want to be. Because our hope is in Christ, however, we can let go of past guilt and look forward to what God will help us become.
 Forget Past Sin—Acts 26:19. Paul forgot his past life. You must do this too.
Forget Past Sorrow—Philippians 3:8. All things Paul gained, he counted them as lost.
Forget Past Shortcomings—Philippians 3:10. No doubt Paul made many mistakes. This is why He said, "That I might know him."

2. I reach forth to that which is before me in the race. I strain every nerve and muscle and use every ounce of my strength to win. My future depends on it. I am running for my life (Php. 3:13).

THE PURPOSE
"Reaching forth unto those things which are before"
But one thing I do. He was a man of single purpose. He had one aim and ambition. In this he resembled David, who said, "One thing have I desired of the Lord."
The Promises of God—Numbers 23:19.
The Plan of God—Psalm 143:10. Seeking God's will and doing His will—1 John 2:17.
The Peace of God—Isaiah 26:3. The greatest need today is for Christians to have peace!

3. I press toward the mark (Php. 3:14), that is, I pursue the white line in the stadium upon which all runners must keep their eyes fixed, lest I be disqualified for the prize (Php. 3:14; 1Cor. 9:24).

THE PRESSING AND THE PRIZE
"I press toward the mark"
Involves Desire—Philippians 3:10. If we seek Him, He meets our needs—Matthew 5:6.
Involves Dedication—Acts 20:19. Paul was so dedicated, that he shed tears over the lost.
Involves Determination—Acts 20:24. All suffering and problems could not make him give up.

"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus"
Paul pressed on toward the goal, toward God's purpose in Christ Jesus. What is God's purpose for us in Christ Jesus? It is to be conformed to the image of Christ—to be perfect even as He is perfect.

Have you considered any New Year's resolutions? If so, are any of them spiritual in nature? We have no way of knowing what the year will bring. In fact, we may not even see it come to pass. If it does, I am sure there will be days of joy and sadness, victory and defeat, unusual days and many ordinary days. One thing is certain, God has a plan for our lives. The question is: do we want to follow His guidance and receive all He has for us? You can face the New Year with absolute confidence if you will approach it in Jesus Christ our Lord.


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