“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” _Philippians 3:12
Goals are a big part of success orientated living in the twenty-first century. Goal setting is encouraged in business, in physical achievement, in personal development, and so on and so forth. Goal setting, however, is not a new idea.
In the New Living Translation of God’s Word we see the Apostle Paul writing with a goal in mind. For the purpose of following the example of this historic man of God it is imperative to learn what goal Paul was working toward.
“Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” _Philippians 3:8-11 RSV
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it (the goal). But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” _Philippians 3:13-14 RSV
Paul’s goal—KNOWING CHRIST JESUS, being found IN Him; moving forward, not looking backward, straining to fulfill Christ’s call in his life.
An example worthy of following. Don’t you agree?
Setting some goals that will propel you forward, getting to know Jesus intimately, straining upward toward Christ’s call in your own life is an excellent place to begin.
Remember—it is possible to make excellent progress, but progress does no good if you are traveling in the wrong direction.
Ask yourself, “How does my Abba, Father, see my progress?”
There is a big difference between our vantage point of our path and God’s vantage point.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and return not thither but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
_Isaiah 55:8-10 (RSV)
Ask yourself, “Do my goals move me forward toward Christ’s call in my life?” Do my goals glorify God?”
Discover God’s Goal for Your Life
“For as long, then, as that promise of resting in him pulls us on to God’s goal for us, we need to be careful that we’re not disqualified. We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith. If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting. But not if we don’t have faith. Remember that God said,
Exasperated, I vowed,
“They’ll never get where they’re going,
never be able to sit down and rest.” _Hebrews 4:1-3 (MSG)
The wisdom of the world says, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Although you won’t find it put exactly that way in God’s Word, there are many stories of both effective goal setting and poor planning. The Word teaches us that God is a God of both purpose and planning. His purpose is to draw all humanity to himself in order to forgive and redeem his creation. His plan—from Creation, through the Law, to the Prophets, in Jesus and the church—is found by reading and studying the Bible.
Goal setting is a part of everyone’s day to day life whether we think of our planning that way or not. Most of us keep a “to do” list of things we need to accomplish every day, week or month. These lists bring purpose to life and help us to stay focused and on target. The only questions is, does our planning result in our resting in God’s perfect and eternal plan—his purpose—for us.
The Short List
If you could reduce your entire life to a short list of only three or four things, what would they be?
The top item on that list would probably come close to identifying the purpose of your life.
According to God’s Word our purpose is to be inspired by a vision of how God can use us in accomplishing his purpose.
Caleb saw his own purpose and not the strength of his enemies. [Joshua 14:6-15]
While others saw a fearsome giant, David saw an opportunity for God’s mighty work. [1 Samuel 17:20-37]
Paul’s goal, as we’ve seen already, was to always honor Jesus and win others to Christ, no matter the personal cost. [Philippians 1:20-24, 3:8-14]
Write three or four goals you want offer God?
Journal God's Word - copyright Ellen Lebsock 2017