|Posted by Shalem India Pentecostal Church, New Jersey on January 8, 2012 at 12:50 AM|
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…
• As we know the background of this epistle, Paul was in Roman prison.
• While being there he was writing to the Philippians.
• The central theme of the epistle is to rejoice.
• So he started this chapter by saying, “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!” (3:1)
• We know that it is impossible for us to rejoice in difficult circumstances.
• It is because we are under our circumstances.
• What Paul says here is that we can rejoice in the Lord, because He is above circumstances.
• Only a person who can find joy in the Lord can forget what is behind and press toward what is ahead as we read in our text.
• We have come to the end of a year and entering another year.
• As God’s people we must do two things now: (1) Forget the past and (2) Look forward to what is ahead.
1. Forget the past
• We should not allow ourselves to rest in our past works whether failure or success.
• Many people are trying to live in the past experiences.
• Paul had a celebrated past.
• He was circumcised when he was eight days old.
• He was a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one!
• He was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law.
• He was exceedingly zealous for his convictions.
• As far as righteousness by the law, he was blameless.
• He further said, “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.” (3:7)
• A lot of people make the mistake of trying to live in the past.
• There are a lot of bad experiences as well as good experiences in the past.
• There are people who are constantly going back and going over those bad experiences.
• And they are not really going ahead in life at all, because they are so involved in the past.
• Such people can't go ahead because they are looking backward.
• Living in the past, there is always that danger of discouragement, which shuts off initiative for the future.
• They always go back to the past, and they pick up the failures of the past, and they are discouraged to try anything new in the future.
• Looking back to the past, oftentimes, we look at our failures and we are discouraged from trying to go on.
• "Hey, I tried it before. I tried it for so long. It just doesn't work. I just can't do it. If I could, I would have done it a long time ago," and looking back I am discouraged of trying to go ahead.
• On the other hand, there are people who looks back and glories in their victories of the past.
• Such people are always looking at their past and doing nothing now or they do not have any motivation to do anything now.
• “You know what an experience I had when I met with the Lord. I was dancing all around when I received the Holy Spirit.”
• You know how many thousands of gospel literature I distributed. All through the street I was testifying and preaching.
• They are living in the past, the past glories.
• Have ever watched in Television what these retired baseball and football players do.
• They just hang around the bars drinking lite beer, talking about the past.
• It is sad when a person is resting in the past, not pressing ahead.
• Of course, there is a certain value in looking back.
• If the past experiences have not been transformed into the present, they are not valid.
• One is to see what God has done.
• Knowing what God has done in the past through His mighty power, gives me confidence to know that He is the same, and He is able to deliver today.
• The second value in looking back is to show me how far I have slipped away from Him.
• To the church of Ephesus Jesus said, "I have this against you in that you have left your first love. Remember from whence you have fallen, and repent."
• Many people had a past experience like Paul's where they met Christ and for the joy gave up the past life, to enter into the new life in Him.
• In the meantime, trying to live on that past experience they have picked up some of the old ways and habits by which they were once bound.
• We are not interested in what God did in their life twenty five years ago, but we are interested in what He is doing in their life today.
• The past has been glorious, it has been exciting to see what God has done, but you know, I am more excited about what God is going to do.
• That’s why Paul is exhorting us to push ourselves ahead.
2. Push ourselves ahead.
• It simply means, we must look forward what God has in store for us in this New Year.
• We haven't seen anything yet.
• The best is yet to come.
• What God has done in the past is very important, but let's look forward to what God wants to do.
• We haven't yet scratched the surface of the work that needs to be done in the hearts and lives of the people in this Edison area, in New Jersey, across the United States, even in other parts of the world.
• We have only begun to see the work of God; we have only begun to see the glory of God poured out.
• Let's not just sit back and rest, let's press forward to what God has for us in the future.
• As William Carey said, let’s “Expect Great Things from God, Attempt Great Things for God.” In this New Year.
• What Paul says here is, “I press toward the goal.”
• I press or pursue – the Greek word is agonizo.
• It is agonizing when we run toward the goal - you have got to go till it hurts, and you have to work yourself through the pain.
• You run until you ache and you think you can't go anymore, but you keep going.
• What is the goal? To receive the prize of the high calling of God.
• What is this prize that you and I are going to receive?
• I want the prize.
• The prize is the approval of Jesus, my Lord.
• I long to hear the words, "Well done, My good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of Thy Lord."
• We will share with Him the eternal glories of His Kingdom.
• Our God has a glorious plan and a purpose for your future.
• He has a plan for your life now.
• What God has done in the past is nothing compared with what He wants to do in our life today, and in the future.
• He wants us to have the Excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
• Our responsibility is to press on toward the goal of receiving the prize of the high calling of God.
• Anything I do for myself is a waste of time and effort and thereby I am prevention the plan of God in my life.
• So what do I do? I forget those things which are behind and pressing toward the goal.
• Let this be the same rule for our life and let this be our thoughts!
• Let’s run our race desiring more and more of Jesus in this New Year!