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There are many memories of the Olympics Games held here in Australia in the year 2000 that are being revived 10 years later!! Do you remember the many expressions of single-minded pursuit demonstrated by the athletes who were absolutely passionate in training & performance? None of them participated to just win silver or bronze. Gold was the goal!! Great Stuff! Great passion!

 

Read 1 Cor. 9/24-27

 

Those athletes to whom Paul refers and those of this generation to whom I refer were passionately committed to that reward that ultimately fades whereas our passion seeks a reward that lasts forever. That reward is Jesus Himself!  So we come to the fourth aspect of the truth we have been exploring over this last few days:

 

"Passion for the King continues as we pursue one thing"

 

[1] A PASSION FOR RELIGION (Read Phil. 3/1-6)

 

a. Religion is any man-made system of beliefs & behaviour that are meant to enable us to relate to a deity. It is the product of human initiative.

 

b. On the other hand, Christianity is a God-initiated revelation of faith & grace that makes possible a relationship with God. We cannot create it; we can only respond to God's initiative.

 

c. Saul (of Tarsus) was always a deeply religious man - in fact, he was a fanatically zealous religious man. But he had become zealous about the system, the rules, laws, regulations, the mechanics, the externals. He was passionate about the law, not the spirit.

 

d. His religious credentials were very impressive - CV was impeccable but his passion was misguided. Take time to read and ponder the insights in the following verses. This is how Saul what had happened to him.

 

*Acts 7/54-8/3 *Acts 22/2-5 *Galatians 1/11-14

 

e. If anyone could get to heaven by being religious, Saul of Tarsus was just the person to qualify. The truth is that no one can get to heaven by being religious - by a man made system of beliefs & behaviour.

 

f. So, what happened that he turned his back on all of that? In short, he got a better offer!!

 

[2] A PASSION FOR JESUS (vs. 7-11)

 

a. Suddenly, it's like being in an accountant's office and we are looking at profit and loss columns in a ledger. Paul put all his "religion" into the loss column and only one thing into the profit column

 

b. Profit = "I want to know Christ" - that is something that religion can never accomplish. He counted everything as loss as compared to knowing Jesus - to know Jesus = relationship

 

c. He now abandons the righteousness that comes via law - i.e. his whole former religious lifestyle. Now he has a single-minded passion about a person, not about a practice or a system

 

d. "I want to know Christ" - I want to know His person, His power and His passion - full identification. Can you feel the passion of Paul (as he is now known)? It was a passion that transformed his life.

 

[3]  THE PURSUIT OF PASSION (Read 3/12-14)

 

a. Now the imagery of the Olympic Games comes alive as Paul describes his pursuit of passion for the King. He makes it clear that he hasn't "arrived" or "made it" - the pursuit of passion never ends.

 

*One thing I do - here again we encounter his chosen priority, the "one thing" that dominates his whole life - seeking first the King & Kingdom (Matthew 6/33)

 

*Forgetting what is behind - choice to disconnect from the power of past failures, sins, memories, efforts etc. The athlete who can't or won't forget past losses functions at a distinct disadvantage.

 

*Straining towards the future - its promise, potential, possibilities, reward, fulfillment. Can't you see the single-minded focus on the face of the athlete as he/she nears the finish line?

 

*I press on to win the prize - he's going for gold - the crown that lasts forever - Jesus Himself

 

APPLICATION:

 

1.  "Knowing one thing""Needing one thing""Desiring one thing""Pursuing one thing".  

 

2.  But how? What if my spirit is willing but my flesh is weak? How can I break through to passion?

 

3.  Begin by asking the Lord to intervene in your life in a new way - ask for the re-programming grace of God to be released into yolur life.

 

4.  Then make the choices & decisions you can make - time to be alone, time to wait, time to listen.

 

5.  As the divine & human interact & cooperate, passion will begin to flow and grow.

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