I look through the scriptures in amazement. No matter what kind of situation I am in, the world could literally be falling in around me, I can pick up my bible and be comforted. That is the beauty of the Word of God. God knows His creation and has the answers written down for us in this amazing library of 66 books.
The bible was written by people like you and me, and sometimes, by our standards today, far worse. There were murderers, liars, cowards, adulterers, and a whole host of people that were scared and weak. That is human frailty in this fallen world – we are human, weak, indecisive, and many times fearful. But we are loved beyond our understanding. And through God’s love and this amazing thing called grace we are made righteous.
The apostle Paul knew the human condition all too well. He said he was the chief among sinners… and he could prove it.
There were bad people in Paul’s day but not many as severe in their hatred for others as Paul. Paul persecuted Christians w/ a vengeance. Many would call Paul a straight up murderer, but he was loved. He was loved so much that a sinless Savior came down in human form to show him grace and mercy through His death on the cross. This savior was Jesus Christ. And Paul, with the calling from Christ, on the road to Damascus and by the obedience of a Christian named Ananias started an amazing walk for and with God. He was delivered from his sins, and he took God’s promises and moved forward with a passion. Once Paul tasted freedom in Christ there was no stopping him.
My admiration for Paul was his continuous positive outlook and lack of memory! It does not matter what situation Paul was in, he was always rejoicing. Imprisonment – didn’t bother Paul; Shipwrecks – no worries; Whipped and bloodied almost to the point of death – not a problem! Persecuted continually, he was always staying true to the faith.
How could he do this? Could you? Could you live in your community knowing that the authorities and the religious community wanted you imprisoned and possibly dead? Probably not, but Paul could and here is why:
Phillipians 3:13 Brethen, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of [it] yet; but one thing I do (action step): forgetting what lies behind me and reaching forward to what lies ahead.
Wow! Paul was the original motivational and empowerment guy. Paul said that no matter what stuff is in the past that is exactly where it stays… in the past. That is his lack of memory. Now look closely at his action step: reaching forward to what lies ahead. Did you catch that? He was thinking about the future, he was always moving forward. Why? Because God is an action God and Paul knew this. It does not matter about our past. Once we are covered by the blood of Christ there is no looking back only moving forward.
Paul goes on now to give us the real nugget of truth and to instruct us:
Phillipians 3:13 Brethen, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of [it] yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind me and reaching forward to what lies ahead.
Phillipians 3:14 I press on toward the goal of the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Phillipians 3: 15-17 Let us therefore, as many as are [w/ knowledge], have this attitude… 16 …let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. 17 join in following my example (Paul leads by example)…
So there it is. God tells us to get out of the past. Forget your mistakes or what you could’ve done and get to the good stuff. Reach toward the prize – stretch your arms forward and go for it! God is faithful and once you acknowledge your sins and/or let go of past regrets, God moves forward with you, forgetting your sins and urging you unto the higher calling.
We serve an amazing God! I sit here in amazement, once again, thanking Christ for: leaders like Paul, my life, my family, my opportunity, and my testimony. I do not want to waste my time in the past – wasting time that is already spent! I want to reach forward eagerly with great anticipation of an amazing future – A future of serving and reaching the lost and ultimately a future with my Savior Christ Jesus in eternity.
Reaching forward through Christ,