Living Venti: Succeeding in Life

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Living Venti: Succeeding in Life

Philippians 3:12-21 ESV – 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. 17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

In Philippians 3 Paul writes about succeeding in life. When I want to learn about success, I want somebody who’s done it. I want to look at somebody who has accomplished what I want to accomplish. We learn much more about success — life — from models than we do from manuals.

So who is our model? The Lord Jesus Christ is, of course. But next to Him, the most successful Christian who ever lived would have to be Paul. He was an incredible man. He lived life to the fullest. He made his life count.

In Philippians 3 we have Paul’s autobiography. In the first eleven verses he deals with his past. In today’s passage he deals with his present and his future. From it we can see the model for successful living. Paul even encourages us to follow his example. V. 17 What is his pattern? In this passage he briefly explains four keys to successful living.

Paul’s Pattern for Living Venti:

EVALUATION: Face my faults.

Philippians 3:12-13 ESV – 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

This is where you admit you don’t have it all together, that you still have a long way to grow, that you haven’t arrived, that you’re not perfect. You do an inventory of your life. You’ve got to know where you are before you know where you want to go. You start by looking at where are the areas that need improvement. Paul himself was honest about his faults.

If anybody had the right to claim he had arrived it would be Paul. He wrote most of the New Testament. He single handedly spread Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. He made an incredible impact on the world.

Yet Paul, at the end of his life, says “I don’t have it all together. I haven’t arrived. I’m not perfect. I’m still growing.” The point is, successful people never stop growing. They are always developing, growing, expanding, learning. Even when he gets to be an old man, in prison, he says, “I haven’t arrived.”

“The only person you should strive to be better than, is the person you were yesterday”

Proverbs 28:13 NIV – Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Good News version says, “You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up; then God will show mercy to you.”

Successful people are honest about their faults. Transparency is a mark of emotional maturity. Successful people admit that they have not arrived, that they have a long way to go. A lot of people are afraid to admit their weaknesses because they are more interested in having a reputation than they are in being successful. Sometimes you have to choose between the two — Do I want to look good? Or do I want to be good?

We’re good at inventorying other people and see where they need to change.
The question you ought to ask yourself is, “Where do I need to change?” Take a personal inventory.

2. ELIMINATION: Forget the former; let go of your past.

Philippians 3:13 ESV – 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

Stop being manipulated by your memories. v. 13 “This one thing I do, forgetting what is behind.” Paul says if he is going to be all God wants him to be he’s not going to waste any more time on yesterday. It’s gone. It’s past. My past is past. I let go of my guilt, grief, grudges. I let go of the past so I can get on with the present. Success involves learning to forget.

Isaiah 43:18 NIV “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing!”

How do you forget? Isn’t it true our brain stores everything you have ever done? Isn’t it true that we never really forget anything? So how do I forget the former?

To forget, actually means, don’t let the past affect you anymore. Don’t let it control you or have power over you or manipulate you. Successful people learn from the past without dwelling on the past.

There’s a big difference. Successful people learn from the past and once they learn, they let it go and move on. They don’t keep hounding themselves about the past.

It’s human nature we tend to remember things we should forget and we tend to forget things we should remember. We hold on to the cruddy, garbage memories we should let go of and we tend to forget the things we should remember, the lessons we learned through it all.

Two things you need to forget if you are going to follow Paul’s pattern:

1.Your failures. So many people are continuing to rehearse things in their heart that God has long since forgiven and forgotten. They won’t forgive themselves. They’re holding on to the past. Satan’s favorite desire is to paralyze us with the past, to manipulate us with the memories.

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently” Henry Ford

Paul says “I learn to forget the past.” He doesn’t set around beating himself, filling himself with self-condemnation for mistakes. Everybody here has blown it. We have things in our past that we regret. Paul, of all people, probably had many regrets that could have haunted him. The Bible says in his B.C. days he was a persecutor of the church. He hounded people who were believers. He held the coats of the men who stoned Steven, the first martyr and probably enjoyed it. Paul faced his faults and forgot the former so he could get on with life. Nothing you ever do will change your past. No tears, regrets, self-pity. The past is past, over, dead. You can’t do anything about it. Let it go. Learn from it and let it go.

2) Your successes. Learn from them but let go of them. It’s so easy to rest on your laurels, to live in the past, to base your security on past performance, to think, “I’ve got it made!” “The good old days” are done with. Let it go. The problem with success is that it tends to make you complacent and fills you with pride. Then you stop growing and learning and then you’re going to fail.

Luke 9:62 NIV – Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

You can’t drive a car looking in the rear view mirror. You can’t run a race looking backwards. You’ve got to let it go. Refuse to be held hostage!

The Question becomes: What memory do I need to let go of?

III. CONCENTRATION: Focus on the future.

If all you do is forget the past, you may just have amnesia. That doesn’t make you successful. Successful people are goal oriented. They focus on the future.

Philippians 3:13 ESV – 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

Successful people are goal oriented. Paul has a single priority: In Greek this is the word “one” with an exclamation point — “ONE!” He’s talking about concentration.

(Scene from City Slickers: “One thing”)

The most common disease we face is Fragmentosis — trying to do 100 different
things at the same time. Jack of all trades; master of none. Most people are spread out too thin.

Paul says, find out what counts. He’s talking about the power of concentration. Light diffused is powerless, weak. If you take power and light and concentrate it you have a laser. It is powerful. That is the power of concentration. Life focusing on one thing.

“You can be anything you want to be, but you can’t be everything”

If you want to live Venti, there is a secret — Concentration. Successful people concentrate on one thing. They specialize. You can’t know everything, be everything, do everything.

Paul says “I face my faults, forget the former and focus on the future and that is the one thing I do. I have my goal clearly in mind.”

Less than 5% of the people in America ever write down a life goal. It is not by accident that the 5% that do are the top leaders in their field. Write it down and focus on specific goals.

I Corinthians 9:24 NIV- Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

What was Paul’s goal?

2 Cor. 5:9 NIV “So we make our goal to please Him. whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”

There is no more rewarding goal in life than to please God. Paul wanted to be able to stand at the end of his life and hear Jesus say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant. You were faithful in a few things. Come into my joy.”

The question we ask ourselves is, What am I living for? What is my goal in life? What’s most important? If you don’t know where you’re going, nobody else does. Focus on the future.

IV. DETERMINATION: Fight to the finish. Persistence.

The principle of determination: Absolutely nothing worthwhile in life happens without effort. The only way you coast is when you’re going downhill. If you’re coasting in life right now you’re headed downhill. Paul said, “I fight to the finish.”

The great people in life are just ordinary people with extraordinary amount of determination. They don’t know how to quit. They keep on keeping on. They never give up.

Philippians 3:12-13 ESV – 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

Feel the intensity of Paul here, the determination. “Press on” in the Greek literally means “I over extend myself. — I go for it with all I’ve got. I throw myself into it, straining with every nerve and ounce and muscle to reach the prize.” He’s a man of intensity, maximum effort. No gain without pain. That’s the way to live! Pedal to the medal!

What would happen if Christians would put as much energy into growing as they do into making money or their favorite sport?

Acts 20:24 NIV – However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

This is Paul’s life verse. Paul said he’s not going to stop, to give up, quit. He’s going to keep on keeping on until he’s experienced all that God had for him in life. He wanted to finish the purpose for which God made him. He saved you and me for a purpose. Paul said he was going to finish what he started.

I hate the word “quit”. It sounds like such a loosing word. I don’t like the word “impossible” either. God says all things are possible. Yet the world is full of quitters, people who cop out at the drop of a hat. They give up on their business, their marriage, their kids, relationships, dreams.

Paul said “I am not going to quit. No matter what happens, I’ll never give up.” I want God’s best for my life and I’m going to complete what He’s called me to do.

II Timothy 4:7-8 NIV – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

More than anything else I want to be able to say this about my life when I die. I finished the race and fought the good fight and kept the faith and as a result there is a crown laid up for me in heaven. Paul’s not talking about salvation here — that’s a free gift. He’s talking about rewards. He’s running for rewards. There’s the crown that’s going to last on that side. I’m going to spend longer on that side of eternity than this side. Paul wanted to be a winner in life, not the winner of the world, but the winning that counts.

Two Promises:

Galatians 6:9 “Let us not grow weary in doing good. For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Don’t give up. Don’t give up on your marriage, your dream… You will reap a harvest at the proper time if you do not give up.

Philippians 1:6 “Be confident of this very thing. That He [God] who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion unto the day of Christ Jesus.”

What God starts, He finishes. He doesn’t lead you out on a limb and cut you off. You do your part and God will do His part. You do your best and He’ll do the rest.

These are key values in life. The things we’re looking at this morning are foundations of this church. They determine the kind of church we are. This is a church for imperfect people. Like Paul, we say, none of us have arrived. If you’re perfect you’re not welcome here. We don’t need you. We don’t need perfect people in this church. These are people who are on the way, people who are growing, people who admit they don’t have it all together.

This is a church where we don’t care about your past. I’m interested in what direction are you headed right now. That’s what matters. Not yesterday but today. If God only used perfect people nothing would get done. It matters where you’re headed now. What counts now? What’s the direction now?

This is a church that focuses on the future. We have a goal, a mission, to take the good news of Jesus Christ to everybody within this ministry area. As long as there is one person who doesn’t know Christ we will continue to focus on that goal.

This is a church where we do not quit. We do not quit on people and we do not quit on things we know to be the will of God.

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