But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, (...) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 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. 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.
History and Context:
The church in Phillipi was one of the first churches in Europe. This means these are some of the first believers in what we now know as the "Western World". Paul visited them around 49-50 AD and then at least two more times after that in 56 and 57 AD. One of the first Christians in Phillipi was the jailer who was assigned to guard Paul and Silas (and the other prisoners) when they were thrown in prison. God used an earthquake to set them free and to convince this jailer of His reality. (Acts 16:25-34) This letter was written in response to the church sending Epaphroditus to Paul to help him in his time of need.
My focus is going to be on the last three verses, I just wanted to include the other verses because they provide important context. Yesterday we took a look at a verse from Paul's final letter before his death. In that verse he noted that "he had "fought the good fight", he had "finished he race", he had "kept the faith". We noted that the goal for all of us should be to be able to say this at the end of our lives. Well this is the attitude which led Paul to be able to say that. "I press on towards the goal..." Once we find our purpose in life we need to be committed towards seeking after it and achieving it. We can not allow past hurts and failures to hold us back from achieving what God has for us in the future. When we look at the context of this verse there is one other important thing to note. Paul's ultimate goal was simply "...to know Christ..." That is it. That is all He wanted to do. But this desire is what fueled his search after the will of God on his life. He wasn't seeking after credentials, money or fame. In fact if you go even further back in the letter, you see that he had all these things and forsook them. Because all that mattered to Him was knowing Christ. Knowing Him in His suffering and His resurrection.
Any calling that we have on our lives should drive us towards knowing Him more, because that is what our ultimate purpose is. If your calling is pulling you away from God, forsake your calling for a time and seek Him. If your ministry is causing you to spend less time in His presence, take a break from your ministry and seek Him. Sometimes it just takes a commitment to stop everything for an hour or two a day and seek His face, other times our ministry or calling has become god to us and we need to stop it completely for a while and spend some time seeking Him. He will always lead us back to where we need to be if we are genuinely seeking Him. To make it short, the challenge for today is to simply seek Him. Take some time in which you are not seeking your next sermon, or provision for your needs and desires, but you are genuinely seeking Him. Seeking to know Him, seeking to be with Him, seeking to hear what He wants to say.
Lord, I desire to know you. Bring me into your presence today. Help me to cut out all distractions and simply be with you! I love you Lord! In Jesus' name, Amen!