Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Letting Go and Moving Forward

Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:12-14


Letting Go and Moving Forward

No one can move into a new beginning while still clinging to the past, or letting the past hold them back. We can become so encumbered by the mistakes of our past that we can find it difficult to move forward. Many of us have felt that snare because this is one of Satan’s favorite places for us. As long as we are looking back, it is impossible to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. God may have great plans for the future but until we let go and take the first step in the new direction, we won’t know the plan He has for us. For the next three days we will look at the words of Paul in Philippians chapter 3 that hold some great lessons for us to embrace as we move into this new season. 

The first step into moving forward into any new season for anyone is to let go of the past. If our eyes are on what’s behind us, we cannot focus on what is ahead. 

Five lessons we can learn from Paul:

1.    We all have an imperfect past - forgetting what lies behind…

Everyone has something in their past they are ashamed of. We all have blemishes and stains that we’d just as soon no one knew about or that we’d just as soon forget. The apostle Paul was no different.  He had a pretty ugly past in persecuting the church, and my guess is that he had plenty of time to reflect on the shame of that.

Paul was a religious guy even before he met Christ.  He was a Pharisee; he was an up and coming religious leader who had the trust of the religious establishment during the early days of the Church.  He could quote Scripture and he attended the synagogue probably every week. All of his religion didn’t keep him from having a past that he wasn’t proud of.

You might have grown up in church, you might have been involved in church, you might have been a church leader of some sort; but just the same, you have an imperfect past. It’s imperfect because of the presence of sin in your life. It’s imperfect because you have chosen your way over God’s way many times.  

2.    We don’t have to be a slave to that past.

Paul could have said, “I put people in prison, and I voted for the death penalty for Christians I arrested. There is no hope for me, and there is no way I could ever be used by Christ.”  But he insisted here that he had something worth moving on for. 

He could look back on the fact that Christ redeemed him from his past and was continually working in him. He says here that in spite of his past, he was moving on. How does he say it? “Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”  He recognized his past, but he refused to be a slave to it. Even now as a mature believer he knew there was more.

How many people look at their past circumstances and decide that it’s just not worth trying anymore?  Way too many, for sure. Some might think they’ve got it all together and don’t need to work on strengthening their relationship with Christ. But if we look to Paul here as our example, we can see that it’s never too late, and our circumstances don’t need to stand in the way of our effectiveness for Christ.

God has something for you to reach for - His goal for us is the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Our past does not disqualify us from this call on our lives. His forgiveness and redemption erase our past. He has given us the freedom to break away from what lies behind – and forget it! 

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

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