Press On!

Philippians 3:10–16I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.   All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – Sometimes, maybe most of the time, it is all we can do to just “live up to what we have already attained.” Or is it?  Maybe we just need to want it a little more?  Paul wanted it, but he also recognized that he had not yet obtained it.  Think about all that he endured for the sake of the Gospel.

Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? (2 Corinthians 11:23–29, NIV 1984)

If anyone had a excuse to throw up his hands in defeat and say “no more,” it was him. And yet he pressed on.  He persisted in his pursuit to be more like Christ.  He did not do it alone.  He did it by yielding to the Spirit that lived in him, not by yielding to the spirit of this world.  That spirit that might have said things like:  Haven’t you done enough?  Let someone else do it for a change.  Why beat yourself up?  No one really appreciates what you have gone through, so why risk going through more?  Paul recognized how much His Savior had done for him that he persisted in his pursuit of holiness.

President Calvin Coolidge was one of the “accidental” presidents.  As Vice President he succeeded Warren G. Harding, who died in office.  He was nick-named “silent Cal,” because he rarely said more than was necessary under the circumstances.  It is reported that once at a social event a lady informed him that she had made a wager that she could get more than two words out of him.  His reply was, “you lose.”  Yet his quote on persistence still resonates today, we could use a bit more of it.  “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Although I believe he misrepresented the word omnipotent, I think you get the point.  Paul got it long before silent Cal did.  And so should we.

My Advice – Is Paul’s advice.   “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”  So press on.

Stand The Test

James 1:12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (NIV 1984)

Michael Jordan – “When I got cut from the varsity team as a sophomore in high school, I learned something. I knew I never wanted to feel that bad again. I never wanted to have that taste in my mouth, that hole in my stomach. So I set a goal of becoming a starter on varsity.”

My Musings – Set backs can defeat us, or inspire us to overcome.

My Advice – Do not let “failures” defeat you. Learn from them and use them to motivate you to do better next time.

Heavenly Wisdom is…

James 3:17Wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Worldly wisdom counts for nothing if we do not have heavenly wisdom.

My Advice – “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). I could not give better advice than this.

Worldly Wisdom Is Not Spiritual Wisdom

Wisdom – A deep understanding and keen ability to grasp and comprehend inner qualities and relationships that might not necessarily be evident. The capacity to exercise sound judgment, arrive at just conclusions and make good decisions.

1 Corinthians 3:18-20Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” (NIV 1984)

My Musing – Superior intellect does not make you wise. Knowing a lot does not make you wise. The best education does not make you wise. In depth training does not make you wise. Years of experience does not make you wise. Even the wisdom of this world can go only so far, especially if sought independently of spiritual discernment.

My Advice – Seek wisdom so you can exercise sound judgment, conclude justly and make good decisions. Hopefully the words of “A Dad’s Devotions” will help. For sure seeking God’s Word will.

Experience Is Not Wisdom

Experience – Direct observation and/or participation.

Proverbs 26:11As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – Education is the beginning. Training is a transition. Experience is an on-going process that keeps on building.

My Advice – Everyday, you will deal with new experiences. Some will be mistakes.  Learn from  both your successful experiences and your not so successful ones to keep growing and expanding. Do not repeat your folly.  Some people end their career with one year of experience repeated forty times. Others end their career with forty years worth of experiences.  All teaching something new.

Training Is Not Wisdom

Training – To make fit, qualified or proficient by instruction, discipline or drills.

1 Timothy 4:7-8[T]rain yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – Many leave college thinking they now know it all and neglect training. In so doing, they are slow to become (or never become) fit or qualified for their job.

My Advice – The early part of your career will be your training ground. Apply yourself to it with the same dedication that you did with college, and you will do well.  But remember that it is just one piece of the puzzle.  After all, you can train a dog, but that does not make it wise.

Education Is Not Wisdom

Education – To provide schooling by formal instruction or supervised practice.

Hebrews 5:11-6:1We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.  Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity.  (NIV 1984)

My Musings – The world is full of educated fools, who have been taught but failed to learn.  Who took in the teaching, but could not use (apply) it.

My Advice – You have one of the finest educations that money could buy. But money did not buy it all. You earned it with a lot of hard work and dedication – and we are proud of you for that. Now dedicate yourself to not only make a living, but to make a life for Christ.