PRESSING TOWARD THE MARK

John Erickson

Keeping Your Expectancy Alive


Philippians 3:14 - I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in the Anointed Jesus.


There's a prize that goes along with the high calling of God. We get an idea of what that prize is as Paul, in 1 Corinthians 9:25, contrasts the "corruptible" prizes given by the world with the incorruptible prize of the high calling of God:

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 - ...they which run the race all run, but only one receives the prize... The do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we receive an incorruptible crown...

ZOE - Eternal Life, unflawed life, abundant life - the "God" kind of life. This is a characteristic of the "prize". This attitude makes no room for sickness and disease, strife, poverty or lack. It doesn't accept it as part of life.

When Paul writes, "I press toward the mark for the prize...," it means that the prize motivates him to press on. Keeping a vision of what God has for us, both now and in the world to come, motivates us as we move through the crud of this world. We need that motivation to get the maximum good - the prize - that God has made available to us.

Paul, in Philippians 3:14, does not say, "I press toward the prize...", or "I press toward the high calling..." Our efforts are not spent on reaching for the prize or the high calling - those things will come automatically when we press toward the mark. But what is "the mark"?

The "marks" that we press toward are positions that will bring us to the place where we can receive the prize and the high calling of God. As we progress on this journey, we discover the obstacles that have to be overcome - within us and around us. If we discover an emotional weakness that gets in the way, for example, we then press toward the mark of perseverance and persistence, and the things that will give us those strengths. If we're dealing with a crazy environment or screwy people, we press toward maneuvering ourselves around that chaos so we don't start arguing with the rats over who gets the garbage. We need to keep focused on the prize, not the demon-inspired squabbles that try to distract us.

Your vision from God may seem too far out of reach at this particular time. There are marks that will jockey us into a better position for receiving that prize in the future. We press toward these marks step-by-step, and always motivated by our vision of the prize and the high calling of God. As we move toward this, circumstances will materialize that draw us nearer to the goal. These are enablers that God provides, adding to our physical efforts, so that we can achieve success beyond our physical abilities.

Philippians 3:15-16 - Let us therefore, all of us who are mature, look at things in this way; and if in anything you should view things in some other way, God will also make that clear to you. 16 Nevertheless, those things that we have already attained, let us live up to them and live by them.

"Let this attitude be held by you" - (Philippians 2:5) This explains what this "view of things" is that Paul speaks of in Philippians 3:15-16 above.

Philippians 2:5-6 - Let this attitude be held by you, just as it was held by the Anointed Jesus: Who, being in the form of God did not see it as inappropriate to be equal with God; but make himself of no reputation and took on the form of a servant and was make in the image of man.

Servanthood is the mark that will bring us to the prize and high calling of God. We serve, offering up the things God has given us, to enable others to see God is a reality, and that salvation is within their reach. And not in some 'churchy" way, but in a way that shows the desirability of the Great Prize we pursue as we carry out our respective callings.

"Servanthood" however doesn't mean being a timid little slave for clowns who won't receive the message. When you run across such people, don't get trapped into being their whipping boy: leave them to themselves and shake the dust off your feet:

Matthew 7:16 - Do not give that which is holy to dogs, nor cast your pearls to swine. If you do, they may trample them under their feet and turn again and tear you up.

Luke 9:2, 5 - And [Jesus] sent them to preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick. [Jesus said] And whoever will not receive you, when you leave that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.

This shows that we need to discern who's ready for our "service" and who's to be left in their own mud. Getting kicked around is not "doing God's will with a humble spirit" as some religious ideas suggest. God clearly tells us to avoid getting entangled with such people. He's not giving us any regard for serving a brat. Jesus did not consider it inappropriate to be equal with God (Philippians 2:6). A servant, then, is not someone trying to gratify another's worldly views, but one who serves as an Agent of God, knowing God will provide for him regardless of how the world treats him.

The true way of servanthood is the way to achieve "greatness", so to speak, and receive the prize and high calling of God:

Matthew 20:26-28 - "...Whosoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant and whoever wishes to be chief among you must be your servant. Just as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

So here's the "mark" that orients us toward the prize and the high calling of God. It lets us see servanthood as a freedom which brings us into God's revelation knowledge as to the ways of winning each situation - and how to avoid getting bound to the deadness of the world.

Genesis 1:26 - Then God said, "Let us make man in our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over all the earth...

God made us in his image - a God-likeness - and then put us in dominion over all the earth: to manage it and superintend it as stewards. So we weren't designed to be timid, fearful recipients of other people's garbage. We are to wisely manage our lives and our surroundings, because this is how God works through us - to produce the best results for both ourselves and those around us. We are to win - not to crawl around in the dirt!

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WEEDING OUT DISCOURAGEMENT


Failures result from a failure to apply continuous effort - a failure to press.

Discouragement breeds this failure of effort, when you don't believe anything will happen from your work.

EXPECTANCY has to be generated to keep us pressing ahead.

We have to root-out discouragement whenever we see it getting in the way of our winning. What is causing it? Usually it's because we're not convinced about what we're saying or "believing" for. If that's it, then we have to get in touch with God thoroughly, in our private lives, until we can see clearly what God wants us to do and how to go about it. there may be a contaminant in our beliefs that needs to have light shed on it - and then removed. Going through our life-experiences while in communion with God will weed out that contaminant and reveal the right understanding that will end the discouragement and fuel your perseverance and joy.

DISAPPOINTMENT = The frustration of Expectancy.

Communion with God = The source of Expectancy.

DISAPPOINTMENT HAS TO BE ELIMINATED


It robs us of the Anointing Power from God. Without this, we're at the mercy of physical circumstances, which are random and ultimately lead to failure. Victory over the physical world can only be achieved when we command the Word of God into the circumstances in the name of Jesus.
Philippians 3:12 - I do not consider myself to have obtained all this [yet], or that I am already made perfect: But I continue to press on, so that I will possess that [end result] which the Anointed Jesus took hold of me for. [The reason Jesus took hold of us is so that we will obtain the perfection and righteousness before God the father that will release us from the failure, curses, and blights of the sin-influenced world].

To say something like, "I've gotten as far in life as I'm capable of going," is to consider yourself to have obtained the result. Paul, in Philippians 3:12, says he has not considered himself to have "arrived" yet - but he keeps perfection in his mind's eye to motivate him until he achieves it. Never resign yourself to the present circumstances. Always realize that you don't see everything that's going on in the Kingdom of God: and that if you keep pressing, God will have in you an available vessel when He dispenses the Anointing Power to change the physical circumstances to set them right. Keep yourself "in play", and you'll be ready to receive God's enabling power when the time's ripe.

Philippians 3:13-14 - Brothers, I do not consider myself to have obtained [yet]; But one thing I do practice is this: I forget those things that are behind me, and I reach forward to those things that are ahead of me. I press toward the mark of the high calling of God in the Anointed Jesus.

Don't look at past failures when planning future goals. Paul says here, "I forget those things that are behind me." He doesn't judge his future by his past. He judges his future by what God has promised him - and us. He keeps in mind that the failures of the past had occurred without God's empowerment. He is a new person now - and he can expect new results under the Anointing of God as he carries out the work ahead. It has no relationship to his past. God requires us to become convinced of this reality so that we won't buy into the failure outlooks of people who are strangers to God's view of things.

PEOPLE NEED US


The reason "servanthood" is part of the calling god has given us is, simply put, people need us to serve them. People's only hope for salvation from hell and the blights of this world is to come to know Jesus. We who have a glimpse into the Kingdom of God have to serve those who are blind to it. We are needed, otherwise, they will never know. And God needs us to be available for service: by doing so, we open ourselves to the deliverance and blessing to succeed, to be "great" if you will, while acting in the capacity of a servant.

BASIC NECESSITIES:

We can't be casual about this life -

We have to press to make it work.

You have to do it.

You have to forget the past.

You have to reach out for the mark.

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We have to force ourselves to forget the past. When past failures come up in our thoughts, we have to willfully reject them as an act of faith. We have to KNOW that our power and ability is from God - therefore any inability we may have doesn't prevent victory in our lives. We are plugged into God's supply line, and are not beholden to ungodly people for our success

Servanthood is a two-pronged dynamic:

The first prong is service to the lost. The second is service to the Believer.

To the Believer, you can edify them in some area in which you have special knowledge or a particular gift.

To the lost, we have to be evangelical. You don't have to be a loudmouthed preacher, or be somebody that you're not. Just communicate from your true self, whether you're bold, introverted, intellectual, or lighthearted. The Holy Spirit will use it and bring it to life to the hearer if they're ready for it.

Luke 16:9 - And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by using worldly mammon, so that, when your money is gone, they will welcome you into everlasting habitations.

Here, Jesus is showing how to operate as a servant by using worldly goods to win friends: "friends" meaning to bring them into the Kingdom, for we aren't to have fellowship (friendship) with darkness. Then, he shows that the temporariness of money is given eternal value by using it in the process of bringing yourself and others into eternal victory.

So, servanthood isn't forced on us as a sovereign act of God. We have to pursue it. God's revelation knowledge will prompt us as to what steps to take as we press toward the mark of His high calling. And that very process of communing with, and hearing from God will energize and motivate us with the joy needed to endure until victory is finally achieved.

© John Erickson

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