What You Gain in Losing

FORMER PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN kept a plaque on his desk in the oval office which read: There’s no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit. Little wonder President Reagan achieved so much in his eight years as leader of the free world. Yet that principle was not original with him. It comes from the heart of God. Here’s how the apostle Paul stated it:

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Vulnerability

COULD WE REVISIT those words Paul wrote? “I have not achieved it . . . forgetting the past . . . looking forward to what lies ahead.” Paul’s openness is best described with one word: vulnerability. “I have not achieved/reached it” is a concept Paul mentions no less than three times in Philippians 3:10–14. Read these words again; see if you can find each of the three:

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Determination

THOSE WHO REFUSE to get bogged down in and anchored to the past are those who pursue the objectives of the future. People who do this are never petty. They are too involved in getting a job done to be preoccupied with yesterday’s hurts and today’s disappointments. Do you need some fresh encouragement to press on today? Read Paul’s testimony:

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Playing Second Fiddle

I REMEMBER READING OF Leonard Bernstein, the late, legendary conductor of the New York Philharmonic, giving an insightful answer in an informal interview. Following a televised performance, one admirer asked: “Mr. Bernstein, what is the most difficult instrument to play?” With quick wit and without even a thought he replied:

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How’s Your Attitude?

I LOVE THE STORY OF a sea captain who, while navigating his ship through a storm, found himself on a collision course with what he thought was a large vessel in the distance. He ordered the approaching vessel to alter its course ten degrees south. The reply came back: “Alter your course ten degrees north.” Incensed, the captain shot back, “Alter your course ten degrees south.

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Sincerity

“ANGELA ATWOOD WAS a dear, honest, sincere girl, who—like Christ—died for her beliefs.” These words actually fell from the lips of the Reverend Citro, a Roman Catholic priest, as he delivered Angela’s eulogy to those who had gathered in St. Paul’s Church of Prospect Park, New Jersey. Sadly, this young woman was one of the six hard-core Symbionese Liberation Army members killed in Los Angeles in 1974.

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An Unexpected Gift

CHRISTMAS DAY NEVER arrived so slowly, but finally it dawned. While no one was looking, I had shaken the box enough to know that it had to contain what I had been wanting so badly—right size, right weight, everything. When my turn came I tore at the wrapping and ribbon, pulled open the top, and to my disbelieving eyes there it was, a world globe the exact size, shape, and weight of a basketball!

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Providence

WHOEVER READS THE WRITINGS OF Christians from earlier centuries is struck with the frequent references to God’s providence. Why don’t we hear more about it today? What imp sneaked in and stole this good word from our twenty-first century vocabulary? The spirit of naturalism that views all events in nature as ruled by independent natural forces has left its mark on our generation. Too bad. We would do well to reintroduce this grand word to our tongues as well as to our young.

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Overcoming Envy

SHAKESPEARE CALLED IT “the green-eyed monster.” Bacon admitted it “keeps no holidays.” Horace declared that “tyrants never invented a greater torment.” Barrie said it “is the most corroding of the vices.” Sheridan referred to it in his play, The Critic, when he wrote, “There is not a passion so strongly rooted in the human heart as [this].” Philip Bailey, the eloquent English poet of yesteryear, vividly described it as “a coal [that] comes hissing hot from hell.”

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Finding Peace in Conflict

PAUL WANTED TO BE IN HEAVEN but needed to be on earth. In a temporal sort of way, this time of year, I share his frustration. I am hard pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and watch the NFL . . . yet to remain in the pulpit is more necessary for your sake. PHILIPPIANS 1:23–24, SWINDOLL PARAPHRASE – Now don’t get me wrong. I love to preach. But I also love professional football.

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