Friday, July 8, 2016

Giving My Best

               One of my favorite books of the Bible is Philippians. Whenever I need the Lord to answer me, or whenever I am struggling in some area of my life, I very often find myself drawn to the words of Paul to the church in Philippi. The one chapter that speaks to me over and over again is Chapter 3. Whenever I read this chapter it is like Paul is writing out my heart for me. It’s like he knew me before I was even alive and was able to reiterate all that is deep inside my heart. It is a great comfort and great reminder to me to never give up on the hope that I have in Jesus Christ. It reminds me that no matter what I may do or where I may go, Christ is my hope, my glory and the reason I get out of bed, every single morning.
            Sometimes I look at my Christian life and I find myself asking the Lord why He has anything to do with me at all? Over and over again I fall into sinful attitudes, behaviors, actions, words, deeds, and thoughts. Daily I screw up and have to repent of my continual disobedience before my holy God. Sometimes I go a little overboard (I admit it) and become my own worst critic. I start to focus on all the wrongs I have done, then I get frustrated and upset at the worthless excuse for a Christian I have become. But then, as always, the words of Paul come into my heart and I am reminded once again that it’s not about me, it’s about Him.
            “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. 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, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:12-14 ESV 
            Paul understood that there was a promise to the hope of the resurrection (Phil. 3:12) but he had not yet received the fulfillment of that promise. He was not eternal yet. Nor was he yet complete. Paul said in Philippians 1:6 that God, had begun a good work in him and he was confident that He would complete it. Paul never believed that he was perfected or complete. He knew and understood he had issues, sins, iniquities, thoughts, deeds and actions that were not yet under the full authority of Jesus Christ. (Romans 7 is proof of that!) He understood this, but he did not use it as an excuse to continue in those sins, attitudes and behaviors.
            We are not perfect, and we are not yet complete in Him, but that is not an excuse for us to continue in behaviors, sins, attitudes or actions that go against His will for our lives. God still calls us to be holy because He is holy and His standards have not changed. (1 Peter 1:6) Every day God gives us His best. He asks that we give Him our best in return. That is how we attain to holy lives, by daily choosing to give God our very best today.
            Paul says he may not have obtained to the promises yet, but that doesn’t make him want to quit or give up. It spurs him on to run more earnestly, to strive a little harder today than he did yesterday. Knowing that Christ has taken ownership (laid hold of) his life for His glory has given Paul a reason to run harder and smarter. Christ Jesus chose you. He chose me. He chose Paul. We have been handpicked by God the Father to know Him in the most glorious and intimate way possible, through Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son. That truth caused Paul to get up every morning and try again, to try harder. This truth gave Paul hope to start over. This truth allowed Paul to forget the faults and sins of yesterday and to keep moving forward to what lies ahead of him.
            “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning; great is His faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV
            Paul did not try to live his entire Christian life in one day. He understood that every day the sun came up and he was still here on this earth, was a new day, another chance to live out the life God had chosen him for. Yesterday is gone. All your sins, your faults, and your failures of yesterday cannot be changed. God has thrown them as far as the east is from the west, He remembers them no more, so why do you insist on carrying them around today? Repent and give God your best for today.
            We must continue to press toward the goal, the goal of giving God our very best today and know that when we screw up (because we will screw up) we have the hope of a new start tomorrow. We don’t have to live for tomorrow and we don’t have to live it all today. All He asks is that we walk the path that He has given us today and don’t bring the baggage of yesterday with us. Leave it where yesterday belongs, behind us.
            Lay hold of the truth that today is a new day and His mercy and grace is ours for the taking. Not because we attained to some great level of holiness, but because He is faithful to complete the good work He has begun in you. He gives us His best today all He asks is for us to do the same. Press onward toward perfection today, strive to give Him your best, and leave yesterday in its proper place of rest. Amen?