Scripture:  Philippians 3:12-16 – Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 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, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

This past year my wife and I walked at least five days per week at a tract in our neighborhood. One day we saw a young man jumping hurdles.  As we observed him, we saw the challenge the young man had to face.  He was working out to get in shape for a race.  He was training so that he would be strong.  He knew that he would have to run with a disciplined mind to be focused so that he would be a winner in an upcoming race.  His coach was there to encourage and instruct him.  

In Philippians 3:12-16, Paul used the analogy of a runner in a race to describe our spiritual growth in this Christian race.  In Philippians 3:12, Paul was saying that he didn’t have it all together in his life or had it made, but he was reaching out for Christ because Christ had laid hold of him and he had laid hold of Christ.  This is a picture of Paul’s salvation when he was apprehended by Christ.  In Acts 9:3-6 Paul said — What do you want me to do?  He surrendered his life to Christ.  

There are sprints (short races) and there are long races (marathons).  The Christian race is based on a long race – which is for a lifetime.  Just as an athlete pursues after his goal with a disciplined mind and heart to be strong and to keep focused in the race to win, we as Christians have to have the same mindset to become all that God wants us to be in Christ.  He wants us to be faithful winners.  Paul’s highest goals were to be like Christ and to know Christ in the power of His resurrection and in the fellowship of His suffering being conformed to His death (Philippians 3:10).  Also, Paul had a passion to win souls (I Corinthians 9:20-22).  Paul was totally committed to reach His goals.  He was sold out for Christ Jesus!  Are you living a sold out life for Christ?

As we have entered this new year, we have to be like Paul in Philippians 3:4-9 —  be willing to lay aside our past failures and mistakes and keep pressing forward to gain Christ.  Philippians 1:21 says “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” We are to make sure that our earthly goals do not take the place of our spiritual goals.  We have to keep in mind that our spiritual goals are most important to God.  

Athletes, pursuing their goals, sometimes stumble and fall.  They continue to pursue their goals.  As Christians we should have the same mindset.  We should continue to pursue our highest goals in Christ. We stumble, but with determination we should strive to never give up.   How can we purse the proper/mature mindset in this Christian race?
•We must run this race by the ruler from the Bible (basic instruction before leaving earth).
•Also Philippians 2:5-8 tells us to let the mind of Christ control  our life, mind, attitude, and actions.  Also we are to walk as humble servants of Christ, and obeying Christ in all areas of our lives.
•Also, in Hebrews 12:1-2 says we are to lay aside every weight and sin, because sin will hold us back and distract us.  We are to run with endurance – with the ability to persevere  with the power of Christ in hardship and pain.  It is so imperative that we keep our eyes focused on Christ – who will lead us to cross the finish line with victory! Our faith/confidence has to be in Christ – who will give us joy in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Then Paul said in Philippians 3:14 – “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The upward call of God is when  all believers will stand in the presence of God in Heaven.  What a blessing that will be – to bow down at His feet!  We will give an account for our stewardship in this Christian race.  When our service will be tested, it will stand or be burned up.   How are you spending your time, gifts, talents, money and life?  Will you hear God say well done thy good and faithful servant?  That was Paul’s highest goal.  II Timothy 4:7-8 says “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”  Like a coach encourages athletes, Jesus Christ is our heavenly coach who encourages us to keep pressing forward with a faithful heart.

Prayer:  Our Heavenly Father:  I thank You for letting me see a new year – with an expectation of what You will do for us and through us.  Help us to use our time wisely – pursuing your will for our lives – serving You and loving You and others.  Help us to keep pressing on  for Your Kingdom and glory.