Evangelistic Outreach Ministries

The Spiritual Mind, "Overcoming Joy",
By Dr. Calvin Ray Evans

Philippians 3:13-14

There are many things in this world that will rob a believer of the joy they have in Christ. Riches of this world will never bring complete joy and satisfaction.  Yet, so many people chase a dream. They think if they only had a little more wealth then they would be happy. One preacher said, "The average American spends money they don't have, to buy things they don't need, to impress friends they don't like." It isn't wrong to have money but it is wrong for money to have you. The person that thinks material things brings joy hasn't taken time to learn some vital lessons from the word of God. True joy comes from Christ. It is through our relationship with the Lord that we learn to appreciate all things.

What we think about this matter reflects in our spiritual life. When our mind is fixed on the right priorities then joy is an automatic result. If you allow it to, then things of this world can weigh you down and rob you of joy as a believer. To overcome the things that try to steal our joy we need to remember four directions that the Bible clearly gives us in this text.

I. Forget the Past

Paul said in verse 13, "...forgetting those things which are behind." He knew the battle of fighting the wrongs of our past. Remember, the Lord is using a penman in this passage that had persecuted the early church. His past was well known by all those around him. Yet, Paul discovered the joy of sin forgiven. The ability of the Lord not only to forgive our sin but forget about our sin as well.

Guilt is a terrible tool that the devil uses to enslave people. We must remind ourselves that the Lord not only redeems us from our sin but He also releases us from our guilt. Don't carry the old dead man around you. The Romans would attach a corpse often times to a living prisoner. They record in history that the corrupting corpse would drain the life from the prisoner. If you allow the enemy of your soul, he will hang the dead man of your past around your neck to drain you of joy in the Lord.

One night in a revival, a man came forward to pray. He had prayed in deep fervor for a long time. Finally, I knelt beside of him and asked him what he wanted the Lord to do for him. He said, "Preacher, I have asked the Lord a thousand times to forgive me. Please tell me what I have done wrong so I can find peace." I answered, "The only thing wrong you have done is ask nine hundred and ninety nine times to many. When we ask the Lord he is faithful and just to forgive our sin. The problem is we often can't forgive ourselves. We know He can forgive." That was all he needed to hear. He forgot his past and joy followed.

II Focus on the Priorities

Paul continued in verse 13 to say, "...reaching forth to those things that are before." In other words, he was encouraging us to seek those things above. When we get heaven out of focus then our life gets blurred. We must always keep the Lord first. Stay in tune with heaven and the leadership of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

We need to have a proper focus between the earthly and the eternal. Never get to attached to this world. We are only here for a little while and what time we have here pales in comparison with eternity.

We need to have a proper focus between apathy and action. Some seem to be filled with all zeal. Others that are content and filled with apathy. While we should never get ahead of the Lord, we know that His program is always moving forward. Really, you only have three choices to make concerning God's plan. You get on, get off or get run over. The Lord doesn't depend on us for His existence but we sure need Him!

We need to focus between the major and minors. I had a preacher friend that went to a church to pastor a few years ago. He was there about a month and called me to tell me of all the changes he was making. He was disturbed about a pulpit chair and where it was sitting on the pulpit. I reminded him that those things are minor. The major concern we have as preachers is reaching the lost and discipling new converts. He felt differently about it and insisted on moving the piece of furniture. You probably already know the results of his action. The pulpit chair is still sitting in the same place it has for years and he is pastor of a church many miles away. Focus on the lost!

III. Fight the Problems

Blessings do not come without battles. Paul said in verse 14, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Some things come so easy. Other things are a constant fight. Some of you reading this have been blessed with good health all your life. Some of you battle pain every day. Some of you have been blessed with good jobs and income. Some of you fight to pay your bills. The point is that we all have battles but the prize is worth the fight!

I spend much of my day trying to encourage those that want to quit. Pastors that feel inadequate in their church. Shut-ins that never have a day without aches in their bodies. Families that grieve that sudden loss of a loved one in death. As I write this sermon, I just went through a period where I have preached or ministered in some way in seven funerals in ten days. Yes, life can be hard! However, I keep my eyes on the prize. The day when all the wrongs shall be made right. A time when death, sickness and heartaches shall never touch man again. Hallelujah! What a day that will be.

IV Follow the Plan

Paul starts this wonderful theme by stating, "...this one thing I do..."verse 13. In other words, he knew that God had a plan for his life. He has a plan for your life. The greatest thing you will ever do is to lay your life on the line for God and say, "What will you have me to do?"

The days that we are living in poses many opportunities for us to try some new way. However, there is no other way but God's way. Keep the main thing, the main thing! Get your eyes on Jesus and never look to the world for the joy you long for.

Years ago, the Armenians were overthrown by Pompey, a Roman general. The conquering king in that period of history would call in the defeated king and execute him and his entire family. This eliminated the royal seed forever and prevented any attempts to overthrow the new ruler.

When the king of Armenia entered the throne room he fell at the feet of Pompey and pleaded for the life of his wife and children to be spared. He told Pompey to torture him and kill him if he wished but to spare his wife and family.

Pompey was so moved by the king's actions that he not only spared his family but he released the defeated king. He stated that he had never seen such an unselfish act and he rewarded the brave deed with life.

While leaving the throne room, the king looked to his wife and commented on the greatness of King Pompey. His wife replied, "I really don't know. I never saw Pompey." He asked his wife, "What do you mean you never saw King Pompey?" She quickly responded, "I never saw him because I couldn't take my eyes off the one that was willing to die for me!"

Please, keep your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. The things of this earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace! Preachers: The above sermon outline may be printed and used in your ministry. The Lord will get the glory. All we ask is your prayers and a response letting us know it is beneficial. With your response we will be motivated to post more. Particularly let us know of those being saved or helped. Thank you.

Preachers: Print the above sermon and use it in your ministry. The Lord will get the glory. All we ask is that you pray for us, and let us know it is helpful. Please contact us and let us know of those being saved or helped. Return to our www.calvinevans.org Web site for more sermons.