American at the Tipping Point

*** World History Institute ***

 

As Americans it’s time to dust off our Bibles and rediscover the loving laws of God. As G.K. Chesterton says, “If men will not be governed by the Ten Commandments, they shall be governed by the 10,000 Commandments.” In America today as the Ten Commandments have been ignored, the 10,000 Commandments have grown to hundreds of thousands of laws – resulting in chaos and confusion.

Anita Folsom

Are Social Scientists Really Scientific?

*** by ANITA on MARCH 28, 2013 ***

Historians on the left side of the political spectrum often attack the idea that America is the land of opportunity.  If they agreed that the United States has given millions of people a chance to improve their lot and the lives of their children, these leftists would be endorsing capitalism and free markets, which they are loath to do.

At the same time, to reinforce their credentials, historians and other writers often call themselves “social scientists.”  That title sounds so impressive–they must know what they are doing, to be “social scientists!” A scientist uses scientific facts to make further discoveries.  Thus, by calling themselves ”social scientists,” leftists give credence to their conclusions about American society.

My husband Burt and I have long admired the work of Thomas Sowell.  In his syndicated column, Sowell recently made these observations on the role of “social scientists” and their data:

“Those ‘social scientists,’ journalists and others who are committed to the theory that social barriers keep people down, often cite statistics showing that the top income brackets receive a disproportionate and growing share of the country’s income.

But the very opposite conclusion arises in studies that follow actual flesh-and-blood individuals over time, most of whom move up across the various income brackets with the passing years.  Most working Americans who were initially in the 20 percent of income-earners, rise out of that bottom 20 percent. More of them end up in the top 20 percent than remain in the bottom 20 percent.

People who were initially in the bottom 20 percent in income have had the highest rate of increase in their incomes, while those who were initially in the top 20 percent have had the lowest. This is the direct opposite of the pattern found when following income brackets over time, rather than following individual people.

Most of the media publicize what is happening to the statistical brackets–especially that ‘top one percent’–rater than what is happening to individual people.

We should be concerned with the economic fate of flesh-and-blood human beings, not waxing indignant over the fate of abstract statistical brackets. Unless, of course, we are hustling for an expansion of the welfare state.”

(Sowell’s column appeared on Townhall.com, March 6, 2013)

Philippians 3, The Things That Really Count

*** Webb Church, Pastor Gary Flynt ***

The Things That Really Count, Philippians 3

Philippians 3:1-9, verse 2,  verse 4, verse 5verse 7Verses 8-9,

Romans 4:5Romans 4:6Romans 4:7-8

Take a look at Philippians 3:1-9. “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

Tonight we’re going to talk about things that really count. Many Christians are spending their lives on things that don’t really count. If you’re living a life of legalism, you’re living a life that doesn’t count.

Paul had lived a life of legalism, but now he’s had enough of it. Jesus saved him on the road to Damascus. Now he’s going to fight legalism with everything that’s in him for the rest of his life. In verse 2 he said, “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.”

Who are these dogs he’s warning about? They are the Judaizers….the legalists, who would come after Paul had preached the Gospel and say, “You can’t be saved by just believing in Jesus; you have to keep the law of Moses. You have to go through certain rituals and ceremonies.” Paul says, “Beware of those dogs!”

In his own way, Paul is telling us that religious people can be some of the meanest people in the world. Remember, it was the religious crowd that crucified Jesus.

Don’t get fooled by people who are just performing religious acts. Some people may act very religious, but they are cruel and ferocious. I heard about a missionary who was cornered by a lion. He didn’t know what else to do so he prayed, “Lord, make this a Christian lion!” The lion stood up and folded his paws. The lion’s lips were moving and it appeared that he was praying. The missionary thought, “God has heard my prayers!” But then he heard what the lion was saying, “Lord, bless this food I’m about to eat.”

Some people may act very religious, but they’re cruel and ferocious. Legalists are in that group. Paul says, “Beware of dogs and evil workers and those of the concision.” The word “concision” means “mutilators.” Paul’s making a play on the word circumcision. He’s trying to show them that legalistic circumcision can save no one.

When Paul got saved, he realized that religion doesn’t save anybody. The world doesn’t need more religion; the world needs Jesus. There are millions of religious people who are lost. They’ve never been born again.

Paul was a very difficult person to win to Christ because he was so proud of his religion. I may be preaching to two classes of people tonight. Some are sinners and they know it…and they won’t come to Jesus because they think they’re too bad. But then there’s the self-righteous folks who won’t come to Jesus because they think they’re too good. They think religion is for the drunkard and the prostitute and the murderers, etc.

It’s much harder to reach a religious person than it is to reach an out-and-out sinner. That’s why Jesus told the religious Pharisees of His day, “The harlots and publicans are going to heaven before you.” Why? Because at least they knew they were sinners.

Most people in America are ego maniacs who are strutting their way into Hell. They think they’re too good to be damned. They don’t understand that they have to be born again.

Paul is warning against self-righteousness. He’s telling us that religion can’t save. He’s telling us that legalism can’t save. He’s telling us that ritual can’t save.

Paul opens the book on his own life. He’s trying to find a balance. He looks at his life before Christ and realizes that he was bankrupt in spite of all his religion. But after he found Christ (I should say, “After Christ found him…”), he took stock of his life again and found that he was fabulously wealthy.

We are going to see the bankruptcy of the old man and the wealth of the new man tonight. First, the bankruptcy of the old man. Paul was dealing with people who were always talking about how good they were. So in verse 4 Paul says, “If you want to get into a bragging contest, I’ll get in one with you. Do you think you’ve got something to boast about? I have more to boast about than any of you!” Then Paul goes on to tell of the things he could boast about in the flesh.

First, there was the pride of ritual. Verse 5 says, “Circumcised the eighth day.” Paul had all the rituals performed on him from the eighth day of his life forward. Some people still think that ritual will save them. Some people think they’re going to Heaven just because they’ve been baptized. But baptism, whether it’s a spoonful or a tank full, won’t save anybody. You don’t get baptized to get saved; you get baptized to demonstrate that you are saved.

But not only did Paul have the pride of ritual; he had the pride of relationship. He says, “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel…” He had a fine family tree. He was from the Jewish aristocracy. But Paul finally came to the realization that God doesn’t have any grandchildren….only children. Your mom and dad may be right with God, but that doesn’t make you right with God. You may come from the finest family in this church, but that’s not the issue. The issue is this: Have you been born again? Your parents may be right with God, but that doesn’t make you God’s grandchild.

Then Paul had the pride of respectability. He says he’s from, “…the tribe of Benjamin.” The other tribes had gone astray, but not the tribe of Benjamin. You may be the most highly esteemed and respected person in your church, but you may also be just as lost as a bootlegger! Family tradition can’t change a sinful heart.

Next, he had the pride of race. He says he’s, “…a Hebrew of the Hebrews.” There was no Gentile blood in his family. His family didn’t take on the ways of the Greeks. There were no Helenists in his family. But Paul discovered that it’s not race, but grace that gets a man into Heaven.

Then he has the pride of religion. “As touching the law, a Pharisee.” You talk about belonging to the right church! He was intensely orthodox. He had zeal! He had defended his religion. He persecuted the church because he was standing up for his religion. People can talk religion and be very mean!

A little boy came running into the living room holding a dead mouse by the tail. He said, “Mamma, look! I beat him with a broomstick, then I ran over him with my tricycle, and then I stomped on him!” About that time the boy saw that the minister was in his house and he said, “And then the Lord called him home.”

So religious….but so mean! That’s the way the Pharisees were. Paul was a Pharisee, but he spent the first part of his life persecuting the church.

Next, he had the pride of reputation. “…touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” If you would have followed Paul around before he got saved you would have said, “My, what a good man!” Paul had enough sense to know that he wasn’t sinless before God, but he was blameless before men. No one could have pointed a finger at Paul and said, “He’s a thief, or a liar, or a pervert.” No, sir! He was blameless.

If religion could get a man to Heaven, then it would certainly have gotten Paul to Heaven. But Paul said, “I took all of this wealth of heritage, and religion and reputation and such and it all added up to zero!” In verse 7 he said, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.”

It’s like the guy who tried to deduct his wife’s beauty parlor treatments off his income tax. The IRS agent said, “You can’t do that!” The man said, “Why not? It was a total loss!”

That’s what Paul is saying here. “All my goodness and all my heritage was a total loss. They didn’t do one thing to bring me closer to Jesus Christ.”

Good deeds don’t save us. But the people of the world don’t know that.

Not only is there the bankruptcy of the old man; there is the wealth of the new man. Verses 8-9 say, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

You are only saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Paul had listed his race, his religion, his self-righteousness, etc. Those things aren’t bad in and of themselves. He wasn’t ashamed that he was a Hebrew. He remained grateful for that fact. He was grateful that he was a Roman citizen as well. There’s nothing wrong with trying to keep the Ten Commandments. But Paul is saying, “Even a good thing is a bad thing if it becomes a substitute for the best thing…..the new birth.”

Suppose you are a camper with a knapsack. You put your Boy Scout knife in there along with your canteen, your fork, your knife, your blanket, etc. You’re in an airplane that starts to go down. Rather than grabbing a parachute, you grab your knapsack and jump out. There’s nothing wrong with the knapsack…..it’s just not a parachute. That knapsack is counted unto you nothing but loss. Do you understand?

Paul says, “I count all these things but loss.” He wasn’t saying that they were bad things. But the worst form of badness is human goodness when it becomes a substitute for the new birth.

Paul had human goodness. He said, “If you want to brag, I can brag right along with you. I’ve got the pedigree. I’m a blueblood and a religionist, but I count all those things but loss that I might gain Christ.”

It’s so hard for some people to admit that they’re sinners. Eddie Martin was one of my favorite evangelists. He was giving an invitation one time when a dignified lady came down and took him by the hand. She said, “Mr. Martin, I should like to become a Christian.” He said, “Wonderful! Pray after me. Dear God…” She said, “Dear God.” “I’m a sinner.” She didn’t say anything. He thought she didn’t hear him, so he started over. “Dear God.” She said, “Dear God.” “I’m a no good sinner.” (He embellished it a little this time.) She still didn’t say anything.

He said, “What’s the matter, madam? I thought you wanted to be saved.” She said, “I do want to become a Christian, but I’m no sinner.” He said, “Madam, the Scriptures say that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” She said, “Well, if I’m a sinner, I’m a good sinner.”

He said, “Madam, there are no good sinners. I don’t think you’re sincere and I don’t think you really want to be saved. Go back to your seat.”

She drew herself up in a huff and started back to her seat. But suddenly she broke. The mascara started to run. She turned around and started to pray, “God have mercy on me, I’m a no good sinner.” Eddie said, “Now, madam, you can be saved.”

Some people just don’t realized how lost they are….and many of them are religious. Many of them belong to good churches. They give their money to those churches. They’ve been baptized. They have their names on the church roll…..but they don’t have their names in the Lamb’s Book of Life. They’ve never been born again. Jesus told Nicodemus, a better man religiously and morally than any of us here today, that he had to be born again. So do you.

Instead of admitting our lost-ness, we want to strut into Heaven saying, “Lord, look at what a prize package you’re getting today!”

When I was a boy, if we found something that didn’t belong to us we would say, “Finders keepers, loser’s weepers.” Paul changed that to, “Keepers weepers, loser’s finders.” Jesus said, “Whosoever shall save his life, the same shall lose it. But whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the Gospel, the same shall find it.”

That’s what Paul meant when he said, “I count all these things but loss.” He turned from his sin, but he also turned from his self-righteousness, which God sees as filthy rags. Paul wrote, “If righteousness comes by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

One of the first things Paul gains after being saved is “the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.” Not knowledge about Christ, but knowledge of Christ.

But in verse 9 we see that he gained “the fellowship of Christ.” And in the same verse he says he’ll be “found in Him.” That’s a safe place to be, isn’t it? I am in Christ and He is in me. You talk about fellowship! You’ll never be lonely again. You may be alone, but not lonely, because Jesus is in you.

Paul exchanged a set of rules for a friend. Before he got saved all he had was the law: now he has the Lord.

But there’s not only knowledge of Jesus and fellowship with Jesus; there is the righteousness through Jesus. Verse 9 says, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

Paul says, “I’m tired of trying; I’m going to start trusting. I’m going to quit trying to work myself into Heaven.” What a terrible taskmaster legalism is! Legalism doesn’t bring joy; it brings bondage. In Romans 4:5 Paul said, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

Paul had been counting up some things. Remember, we’re talking about things that really count. His faith is counted for righteousness. Romans 4:6 says, “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.”

The word “impute” means to put on ones account. When I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ apart from my works, apart from my baptism, apart from my church membership, apart from trying to keep the Ten Commandments, He puts righteousness on my account.

That’s great news! Listen to Romans 4:7-8, “Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

Yes, I’m a sinner, but God doesn’t impute it to me anymore. I’m not righteous, but He imputes it to me. He writes “righteousness” on my account.

An old washer woman worked for a man who was cruel and mean. She got saved. She was so happy, but he hated her happiness in Christ. He tried to ridicule and belittle her. Finally he said, “Betty, you say you’re saved. How does it feel to be saved?” She said, “I don’t think I can express it in a way you can understand it, but it feels as though I’m standing in Jesus’ shoes and He’s standing in mine.”

A theologian can’t explain it any better than that! “He who knew no sin, God hath made to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

When God looks at Gary Flynt today, He sees me as righteous as His Son. You say, “Who do you think you are?” I’m a Christian. I don’t have any righteousness of my own: I only have the righteousness that’s been imputed to my account…the righteousness of Christ Himself.

But don’t get the idea that because salvation is easy and free that it’s cheap. Jesus had to die in agony and blood to buy it for you. On the one hand is your self-righteousness and legalism, and you’re trying to be saved. On the other hand is the righteousness of God that comes by faith in His Son on the basis of His shed blood. Which do you choose?

You may be a good person, but have you ever seen yourself as a lost sinner? Have you understood that you need to be born again?

Some may think that they are so sinful that God can’t save them. But the Bible says, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow: though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

The blood of Jesus can wash away every blur, every blot, every blemish, and every stain. You can never be too sinful to come to Christ.

On the other hand, some are cultured, religious, moral, and well mannered. But if you’ve never been born again, you’re lost. If the Apostle Paul needed to be saved, so do you.

Jesus is coming back very soon. “And when He shall come with trumpet sound, oh, may I then in Him be found, dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.”

Amen?

Philippians 3, The Four Keys to Success

*** Webb Church, Pastor Gary Flynt ***

Philippians 3:12-14, Philippians 3:12, Philippians 3:13, 14, Romans 8:18Psalm 27:4,

The Four Keys To Success
Philippians 3

Take a look at Philippians 3:12-14. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

I want to speak to you about The Four Keys To Success. Outside of Jesus, the Apostle Paul was one of the greatest men who ever lived. So, I want to talk about what made Paul the great man that he was.

Paul gives us the secret to his success in the background of the Olympic Games. He says that life is like a race. He often uses athletics to illustrate spiritual truth. I’m glad he did because I like athletics. I think this tells us that the Christian life ought to be exciting.

Some of you folks can go to a ball game and yell like a Comanche, but then you come to church and sit like a wooden Indian! Folks, we are involved in something that’s far more exciting than any athletic event!

I’m going to give you some principles which will help you to be a success in any realm of life. But first, you need to know what success is. Some people think success is spelled M-O-N-E-Y. That’s not success. You can be fabulously wealthy and still be a failure.

Some people think success is found in pleasure…in having everything you want. But pleasure is like snow falling in a river: it’s white for a moment, but then it’s gone forever.

Success is simply finding and doing the will of God. Paul says, “Oh, if I could just apprehend why I’ve been apprehended!” The Lord arrested Paul on the road to Damascus and set him on a new road. Now Paul wants to know and do the will of God…to know success in the fullest sense of the term.

The first key to success is to have a sincere dissatisfaction. Verse 12 says, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”

Paul wasn’t satisfied. Oh, he was satisfied with the Savior and with salvation, but he wasn’t satisfied with self. A growing Christian is someone with a sincere dissatisfaction. He knows he hasn’t attained. He knows he hasn’t apprehended. He knows he’s not yet what God wants him to be. Someone said, “I ain’t what I ought to be and I ain’t what I’m going to be; but thank God I ain’t what I used to be!”

Paul knew that there was so much more yet to come. He knew he wasn’t perfect yet. Some people believe in the doctrine of sinless perfection. There was a man in a testimony meeting who stood up and began to talk about his sinless perfection, but his wife stood up in the back of the auditorium and said, “Remember John, I’m here.”

You know, and your wife knows, and the Lord knows that you’re not perfect. Not only should you admit that fact, but there ought to be a divine dissatisfaction with that fact. When you become satisfied with yourself, you cease to grow spiritually. You cease to be successful. You cease to learn.

A 14 year old boy dropped out of school and said, “They can’t teach me no more there.” He was probably right! He thought he knew everything there was to know.

If you’re going to have success as a Christian, there must first be a sincere dissatisfaction. One way you can always be satisfied is to compare yourself with other people. Just go out and find a lukewarm, carnal, good-for-nothing, lackadaisical, good Lord, good devil, type of Christian. Then you can lay down in the gutter along side of them and come up satisfied with yourself.

Or, you can become very discouraged if you measure yourself with someone else. They may be so much more talented and have so much more ability than you have.

Stop measuring yourself with other people! The Christian life is a race, but it’s not a race between one another. As far as our brothers and sisters are concerned, we’re not in a race; we’re on a pilgrimage. We’re traveling together, not trying to outrun each other.

The Bible says that we are to run the race that is set before us. Your body may be sick and weak, but you can run your race right there in your hospital room. But when you find out what God wants you to do, don’t get satisfied with where you are now. The moment you get satisfied and begin to think you’ve attained, that’s when you’ll cease to grow and you’ll never be a successful saint.

We sing a song that says, “I am satisfied with Jesus, but the question comes to me, as I think of Calvary, is my Master satisfied with me?” Well, if you’re satisfied with you, then He certainly isn’t.

The first key to success is to have a sincere dissatisfaction. The reason I use the word “sincere” is because some people will say, “Oh, yes, I’m not what I ought to be.” But they’re not sincere. The truth is that they’re perfectly smug and complacent about it. They think they’re pretty good.

Are you content with what you are? Do you intend to grow more? Or do you think you did God some kind of wild favor by showing up here at church? Do you show up here with a sign around your neck that says, “Please do not disturb?” That kind of person will never be a successful saint.

But not only must there be a sincere dissatisfaction; there must be a single desire. Verse 13 says, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do…” Paul had brought his life into such sharp focus that he had one burning desire. Everyone who’s ever made a mark in this world has done the same thing. They’ve brought they’re entire life into one focused, burning desire.

If you want to be a success, you have to be single-minded. You have to say, “This one thing I do.” Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters.” James said, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

Paul is thinking about running toward a goal. Can you imagine a runner trying to reach two goals at the same time? Do you think he’d ever win a race? Of course not! If you’re going to run the Christian race, you’re going to have to narrow your interests. Have you ever heard the expression: “He’s a jack of all trades, but a mater of none?” That’s the way many Christians are.

People say, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” But a successful person says, “Yes, put all your eggs in one basket….and watch that basket!” Get focused!

A river has great power because it’s channeled between the banks. But many people don’t have channeled lives. Rather than being a mighty river, they’ve become a stagnant swamp. Are you focused like a ray of sunlight in a magnifying glass? Are you saying, “This one thing I do?” If not, you won’t be a success in any realm.

You say, “I’m getting by, Pastor Gary.” Yes, that’s your problem. You don’t have a sincere dissatisfaction. You say, “Nobody can do just one thing. You have to have a job, you have to eat, you have to take care of your family, you have to rest and have some kind of recreation, etc.” Oh, I agree. But your job, your friends, your family, your rest…..all that you do….should move you toward one single goal in your life.

Your job ought to be part of reaching that goal, your family ought to be part of reaching that goal, your recreation ought to be part of reaching that goal, etc. That’s why Paul said in I Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient.”

In other words, “There are many things I can do which there is no law against, but they don’t help me reach my goal, so I don’t do them.” The word “expedient” comes from the same word as “expedition.” An expedition is something that’s going somewhere. It’s journey with a destination in mind. So Paul says, “I’m not going to do anything that doesn’t help me reach my goal.”

The way to test everything you’re involved with in life is to ask this: Does it move me toward my goal? Have you ever brought your life into focus and asked, “What matters to me more than anything else?”

Paul was a great man because he said, “This one thing I do.” Jesus said, “If thine eye be single, then is thy body full of light.”

You say, “That’s too narrow for me. I want to be able to fish in many ponds.” Well, that’s your privilege, but I’m telling you the secret to success. You must have a sincere dissatisfaction and a single desire.

I’m not telling you that you have to be a preacher or a missionary, but you’d better know what God’s will for your life is. That’s the only way you’ll ever apprehend that for which you’ve been apprehended. Have you prayed about it? Have you found God’s will for your life?

The third principle is a strong determination. It’s not enough to have a single desire if you’re not determined to fulfill that desire. In verse 12 Paul said, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after…” Underscore that phrase “follow after.” In verse 14 he said, “I press toward the mark.” The same Greek word is used in both phrases. It means “to pursue.” It’s like a hunter pursuing an animal. It carries with it the idea of intense effort and strong determination.

Paul uses the example of a runner who’s staining every nerve and sinew in his body to reach his goal. Some of you won’t succeed because you don’t have the determination. You have a take-it-or-leave-it attitude….therefore you leave it.

Have you ever noticed that when people start talking about liquor someone will say, “Oh, I can take it or leave it.” Big deal! That’s all anyone can do!

But when I talk about determination, I’m not talking about the strength of your flesh; I’m talking about the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Paul knew what it was to be determined. He fought with lions, he was ship-wrecked three times, he was stoned and left for dead, he was whipped with 195 stripes, he had a long prison record, etc. Now he’s an old man and he’s in prison again.

Let’s talk to him. “Paul, you’ve been on this race track long enough. Why don’t you quit? After all, some of the people here in Arlington have quit. Some of the folks that use to attend faithfully aren’t here anymore. Paul, why don’t you just quit before you reach your goal? There are some people who used to be tithers, but they wanted some luxuries so they quit tithing. There are some who used to teach Sunday school, but they wanted to go fishing for fish on Sunday rather than fishing for men. They didn’t want to be tied down. Paul, there are a lot of modern day Christians who’ve just quit. Why don’t you quit? After all, you’ve had it pretty hard, Paul.”

The old Apostle looks at you like you’ve lost your mind! He says, “I want to let go, but I won’t let go. There are battles to fight by day and by night for God and the right; and I’ll never let go. I want to let go, but I won’t let go. I will never yield. What? Lie down on the field and surrender my shield? No! I’ll never let go. I want to let go, but I won’t let go. I’m sick, tis true, worried and blue, and worn through and through, but I’ll not let go. I want to let go, but I won’t let go. May this be my song amid legions of wrong. Oh, God keep me strong. I’ll never let go!”

That’s the way the old Apostle was. He says, “I press on.” So why aren’t some of us more successful? Some have never become dissatisfied with who and what they are. Others have not gotten that single desire. Others have that single desire, but they’re not determined enough to reach that goal.

Here’s the fourth principle: a steadfast destination. Paul kept his eye on the goal. In verses 13-14 he said, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind…”

Paul had enough sense to know that you can’t win a race if you’re always looking over your shoulder. So he says, “I forget those things that are behind.” There may have been times when he turned a corner real well, or times when he passed other runners. There may have been times when he even stumbled and fell. But he says, “All that makes no difference. I can’t change the past. If I want to win this race, I’ve got to forget the past. That part of the race has already been run. You can’t win a race by looking over your shoulder.”

That’s why some people won’t win the race today. You’ve got your headlight on the rear bumper. You don’t have your eye on the goal.

Paul forgot about his past glory. It doesn’t matter what you were yesterday: it only matters what you are today. So put away all your press clippings because today is a new game.

Not only is there past glory; there is past guilt. Some of you have made some bad mistakes just like I have. The Apostle Paul had made some bad mistakes. He was the one who held the garments while they stoned Stephen to death. But he buried that sin in the grave of God’s forgetfulness and refused to be haunted by the ghost of guilt.

Maybe you’ve stumbled on the race track, or gotten completely off the track. Get back on it and forget the past!

Not only is there past glory and past guilt; there is past grief. Some of you have suffered terribly. So did Paul. But he refuses to drink from the intoxicating cup of self-pity. He refuses to sit around and lick his wounds. He said in Romans 8:18, “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Not only did he forget past grief; he forgot past grudges. If there were such a thing as a right to hold a grudge, Paul had it. He had been mistreated, lied about, falsely accused, misrepresented, etc. As a matter of fact, he’s writing these words from prison. He wasn’t there for what he’d done wrong; he was there for what he’d done right! But he refused to be resentful. Rather than resenting, he said, “I have learned in whatsoever state I’m in therewith to be content.” He wouldn’t let his past grudges keep him from reaching his goal. “Forgetting those things which are behind…”

Then, “Reaching forth.” He kept reaching for his goal. There’s a little country church cemetery at the foot of the Alps in Switzerland. A young Englishman, who died while mountain climbing, is buried there. His name, birth date and date of his death are on the headstone along with these words: “He died climbing.”

I think we’d have to say that about the Apostle Paul. He didn’t quit!

Do you have a sincere dissatisfaction? Are you satisfied? Or, do you hope to do more? Do you want to be a better Christian, or are you content to limp into Heaven like you are?

Is there a single desire in your heart? Do you have any goal in life? Or are you just drifting through life? Psalm 27:4 says, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after…”

Do you have the determination to reach the goal? Are you willing to pay the price? Are you willing to drop anything that’s not expedient out of your life?

Are you willing to forget what’s behind you and to start today to press toward the mark? Are you going to press for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus?

There’s nothing more exciting than being in the race. I feel sorry for people who are just drawing their breath and drawing their salary. They have no purpose, no goal, no focus and no ambition in their life.

Before I close, I want to make something abundantly clear. When I talk about winning the race, I’m not talking about winning salvation. Salvation is not a reward at the end of the race; it’s a gift that puts you in the race. Paul is talking to people who are already saved.

Until the Lord takes you to Heaven, you can have a wonderful, thrilling time running the race that is set before you. Will you do it?

Dr. Benjamin Carson

*** Scripture ***

  *** March Speech 2013 ***

Proverbs 11:9

Proverbs 11:9

New International Version (NIV)

With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors,
but through knowledge the righteous escape.

Proverbs 11:12,

Proverbs 11:12

New International Version (NIV)

12 Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,
but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.

 Provers 11:25,

Proverbs 11:25

New International Version (NIV)

25 A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

 11 Chronicals 7:14

2 Chronicles 7:14

New International Version (NIV)

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek

my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven,

and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.