READ Philippians 3:1-6
It matters who you allow to influence your life, thoughts, and behaviors. Paul wanted the Christians in Philippi to know that some people might not be the best to listen to. In fact, Paul had some people in mind who would actually have been a terrible influence if the Christians in Philippi had listened to them. A group of people told the Christians in Philippi that if they wanted to follow Jesus, they must take on the marks of being ethnically Jewish. One of those fundamental “signs” was for men to be circumcised. Paul calls these false teachers “dogs,” “evildoers,” and “mutilators of the flesh.” He uses strong language here to stress the importance of Christians NOT listening to them. In fact, if there was anyone who could boast of their Jewish credentials, it was Paul himself. He lists part of his “resume” in verses 5-6. He is more qualified in the ethnic marks of Judaism than his opponents, but he still says these things are worthless.
Are there any people, ideas, or groups in your life influencing you in destructive ways? Why has their influence been negative in your life?
Losing and Gaining
READ Philippians 3:7-9
After listing his credentials, Paul goes on to explain how unimportant these religious and ethnic achievements were to him. Because of Jesus' power, goodness, and beauty, Paul no longer needed the influences that shaped his former life. Paul stopped caring about the opinions of the people who used to influence Him because he only cared about pleasing and knowing Jesus!
Ask God to reveal any influences you need to run from in your life. Ask Him for the ability to avoid the influence of people who might lead you to foolishness and pain. Finally, ask Him to bring godly people into your life who will lead you closer to Jesus.
READ Philippians 3:10-16
Setting goals is a good idea when we want to achieve something in life. People who do great things in life do them on purpose. Having a goal means:
- You identify something you want to achieve.
- You get specific about what the goal is.
- You set a timetable for that goal.
Setting periodic goals in your life is a good idea. You may not always hit your goals, but it gives you something to shoot for and will help you progress in critical areas of your life. What is one goal you would like to achieve in the coming year?
Setting specific goals will help you identify what you want the next year of your life to look like. Few things are more satisfying than setting a goal and then achieving it, but if you don't know how to select the right goals in the most critical areas of your life, all your goal setting won't matter much.
What is THE GOAL of life? That is a great question. Most of us agree that having good friends is important, but that isn't the goal of life. Learning new things, being healthy, and forming good habits is also great, but these aren't life's goals. What would you say is THE GOAL of life? What is the most important thing you need to figure out so the rest of your life will make sense?
What do you think was Paul's primary goal in life? Paul wanted to know Jesus and to give his entire life to the call of following Him. He admits that he is not there yet, but he presses on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call that God has placed on his life. If that is your goal too, what parts of your life would need to change? What would make it difficult for you to press on toward that goal?
Focus On Your Mission
READ Philippians 3:17-21
Paul provides a hint about the kinds of things that can keep us from walking closely with Jesus. What do you think it means when Paul says that their God is their appetite, their glory is in their shame, and their mind is set on earthly things?
“Sins of the flesh” are the most common areas where our appetites can get us into trouble. They are what we do when we allow our immediate desires to become our ultimate goal. These areas of sin usually boil down to the pursuit of pleasure (sex, drunkenness, gluttony), power (greed, anger, conflicts), and pride (idolatry, jealousy, selfish ambition). We all deal with these areas of sin on occasion, but letting these things grow in your life will lead to emptiness.
What do you need to get rid of to pursue THE GOAL of knowing God's design for your life? Because of Jesus, you can break free from the destructive cycle of sin. You do not have to continue making a god out of your appetites. God has plans and designs for your life that are much better than the prison of seeking pleasure, power, and pride. Ask God to free you from any areas of “sins of the flesh” in your life. Ask Him to forgive you and give you His desires and goals for your life.
NOTE TO PARENTS
The students will be encouraged to complete the following session before they return to Houston, either on the beach or on the bus trip home.
Get Rid of Anxiety
READ Philippians 4:1-9
Have you ever been so anxious that you couldn’t complete or accomplish a task? You have probably felt this way at least once. You may even feel anxious more often than not. Today, we will dive into a passage that shows us what God says to us about worry and anxiety.
What do you do when you are anxious about something? During this week, you have learned how God has given us an instruction book for our lives - the Bible. You have had the opportunity to learn why the Bible is important, how to read the Bible, and even how to understand God’s instructions in the Bible. Today is your last day at Beach Retreat, BUT you’re learning that what the Bible says does not have to stop here. It should not stop here! You can continue to read God's Word back in Houston.
Focus for just a moment on verses 4-7.
What command is given in this passage? Is there more than one?
Is there a request that you want to make known to God right now?
Here are a few truths that stand out in this passage:
- The word rejoice is used more than once in the same verse. Scripture tells us to rejoice in the Lord. You can rejoice in the Lord by thanking Him for what He has done for you in prayer. You can also rejoice in the Lord by telling others the great things He has done for you.
- We need to make our requests known to the Lord. Fun Fact: God already knows what we want or need, but He still wants to hear those things from us. Praying or journaling our requests is a way to develop our relationship with Him.
Now look at verse 8 again. What should you be dwelling on according to God's Word? Think about what you dwell on or spend the most time thinking about, reading, or listening to: music, movies, video games, tv shows, or what your friends are discussing? Instead, we are to fill our minds and focus on true and pure thoughts and actions.
What are we told to do in verse 9?
You have learned why the Bible is important. You have learned that it is God's book of instructions for our lives. Take verse 9 with you back to Houston. "Do what you have learned and received and heard from me and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you."
Do not stop reading and learning what the Lord is instructing you to do and be. You can spend time with Him every day, week, and month instead of just this week at the beach.