We just finished our teaching series on Philippians we entitled The Pursuit of Joy. Every book of the Bible is important because each one is inspired by God. Certain books draw us close to God time and again because of their strong encouragement, powerful teaching and practical wisdom. Philippians is one of those books. I hope you enjoyed the series and if you missed any of the sessions, I encourage you to go to http://northstar.cc/thepursuitofjoy/ and listen to the message you missed.

In this devotional I want to give you a summary of the series and of Philippians.

The Apostle Paul had this attitude: “I can’t lose for winning!” I can just hear him, “Heads I win, Tails I win!” Philippians is a book about joy, even though it is estimated that Paul spent at least twenty-five percent of his life in jail.  All that jail time coupled with other well-documented bumps in the road and yet his joy was contagious. I wonder if Paul’s ministry was today, if he would be sporting a “Too Blessed To Be Stressed” t-shirt under his prison overalls. Maybe we should sell those at Northstar.

When you peak behind the curtain of Paul’s life the thing that is easily detected is his laser like focus: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:14.

As Paul urges the Philippians to move onward and upward, he does not do so without including himself or giving his personal testimony as inspiration and motivation. Paul gives us some insight as to what we must do to reach our goal. He uses the personal pronoun “I” implying that we must make our relationship with God personal, and the keys or steps for moving onward and upward are in Philippians 3:13, “Brothers and sisters, 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 hope that you will gleam from our study of Philippians that each of us who are followers of Jesus have to keep realizing, keep forgetting, and keep reaching.

Keep realizing that we have not yet arrived. Paul lets the Philippians know that no matter what knowledge, skills, or accomplishments or status that he has already accomplished in this life, he considers them all garbage that he may gain Christ. Our accomplishments should not hinder us nor cause us to “get a big head” thinking that we arrived or reached our plateau in life. Nothing should keep us from growing – moving on in Christ.

Keep forgetting those things behind because it is a continual process of not allowing past failures nor achievements to keep us from moving onward and upward. Yes, we remember the past. The process of forgetting means that we are not resting on past laurels neither are we pulled back by the guilt of past failures. Let the past be in the past.

Keep reaching forward to the things which are ahead. We must continue to strive and make every effort to reach for the things that are ahead of us. Keep pursuing a relationship with God. The goal is be more like Him as we read in verse 14 above.

My prayer is that members and regular attenders of Northstar Church will be straining and stretching forward for the upward call of Christ Jesus. And to know the joy that results.

In 2015, Northstar will be working as a church to press toward the same goal. Let us move forward together and be a group of believers that is too blessed to be stressed.

Discussion Questions
1. What is the basic theme of Philippians?
2. How can we receive and experience the peace of God?
3. What has God promised to supply?
4. How is singleness of mind expressed?
5. What are some of the ways that Jesus displayed humility? How many of those do we display?
6. Paul is in prison, potentially facing the death penalty, yet he remains positive and hopeful. Think about a time when you had bad news or a bad experience actually turn out for the good. What happened to change “bad” into “good?”