Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT) I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
“Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…” Not everything in our past bears forgetting. There are details that are significant in making future decisions and the successful fulfilment of goals and aspirations. If the Word of God is true (and it is), He uses every single detail of our life for our good and His Glory. In Jeremiah, the Lord already declared that He has a plan for us that contains a future and hope. In Psalm 139, He tells us that every single day of our life has been prerecorded. I don’t fully understand predestination but I do believe that it is God’s Will for every human being to come to saving knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ. I also believe that woven into the story of our life are many opportunities to encounter the Son of the Living God and step into the Light of His Love forever. God chose us by creating us. However, in order for us to love Him, each person was given a free will. I am free to decide if I will love Him or not. God knows my choice. He also knows you, wants you and loves you endlessly, too. But sometimes I forget the good things that I should remember, things vitally important to the survival of my faith and growth in trust needed to make me believe.
I press on to possess that perfection for Christ Jesus first possessed me. I am far from perfect so what is this perfection all about? His Perfection. His Completion. The complete overtaking of my body, mind and spirit entrusting my soul to Jesus Christ. How can I achieve it? I must focus on one thing. The only thing that really matters in this life yet seems to fall down the priority list so easily.
Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things He does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
Let ALL that I am praise the Lord with my WHOLE heart…let ALL that I am praise the Lord. Am I fully invested? Am I all in today? There is no question in my mind that Jesus is. He died a brutal and horrifying death as an innocent man because He wanted me. He desired me. Jesus loved me just as I am. The question is my love. My devotion. My willingness to trust. To not look back over my shoulder, asking what if, or thinking of turning back. There is no turning back as a Living Sacrifice. To sacrifice is to be completely committed to a cause. Absolute trust takes you to the mountain with not to offer but your best. The journey is not dependent on God providing but our willingness to go without a guarantee. Faith in God is never based on anything I can see. It is completely expressed in hope of the impossible and everything I cannot see but know and trust God is doing. What is the Lord doing anyway?
He forgives all my sins. New mercy arrives daily to cover every shortcoming, failure, rebellious thought and thoughtless act completely removing it as far as the east is from the west. He heals all my diseases. God heals our body, mind and spirit three different ways – miraculously, medically or mercifully. We do not always get to choose how God does it but know that if our trust is in the Lord it comes out for our benefit every single time. I miss my loved ones who have gone on to be with the Lord. They do not miss me. The moment they laid their eyes on Jesus – they experienced complete healing and satisfaction never looking back again. He redeems me from death. Jesus Christ died on the Cross to pay for our sins and spent three days in the grave claiming His Prize. When He emerged from the tomb, He held the Keys to the Kingdom which He is thrusting into our hands. There is wonder working power available for us if we would only muster up enough faith to claim it and use it every day. He crowns me with love and tender mercies. Jesus loves me. Everything God does in my life is based on His Sovereignty including His Love. Why is this important? God chose to love us and there is nothing I can do to be separated from His Love. With this in mind, He fills our life with good things. With all this in mind, we have every reason praise Jesus with all that we are and trust Him with our whole heart.
Psalm 103:11-13 (NLT) For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
For His Unfailing Love toward those who fear (love and respect) Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. We spend our lifetime trying to grasp just how far, deep, wide and real His Love for us really is. How can I be sure? How can I keep myself from forgetting His Promises and Future with problems, pain and hard times at almost every turn?
Proverbs 3:1-5 (NLT) My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understand, feelings, opinions or the like. My praise cannot be dependent on my current circumstances or present situations. Seeing is not believing when it comes to the Kingdom. Religion may say so but my relationship to God is based solely and completely on the righteousness given to me by Jesus Christ so I walk by faith and not by sight. This means that my praise and persistence is based on my pursuit of the faith, hope and love found in Christ and not my ability to fulfill a single command. My vain attempts at obedience and spiritual growth add nothing to my salvation package. The one thing I must never forget are the things that the Lord has taught and is teaching me.
Store my commands in your heart. God’s Word planted in my heart will always produce Fruit from God’s Spirit. My ability to obey and fulfill each command does not add to the completion to my redemption but offers reverence and honor to the Lord. Religion makes us think if we do better than we are better. Reverence is totally submission to the One who fills our life with good things and fulfills our destiny. I am as helpless to do anything to earn the wonderful promises and blessings of God. All I can do is claim them, trust Him and believe until they come to pass.
Isaiah 43:18-20 (NLT) “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.”
The last month has been a little crazy in our family. My mom had to have emergency open heart surgery. I missed almost two full weeks of work. On a two-person production team, projects began to pile up. Already behind, there were a number of others “small inconvenient” things that crept up. By last Friday, I had worked a significant amount of hours to “catchup” at work. My goal was to spend some time with my parents and check in on them. Well, I was two hours late leaving work which set back our scheduled time to leave. When I got to my car, birds had a party in the tree overhead and it was covered in … well you get the picture. Pulling into my favorite gas station to fill up and get a quick car wash, the sign on the pump said, “Sorry for the inconvenience, car was unavailable. Annoyed I left, thinking I was sweating because of agitation adjusted the air condition to find that it was no longer working. This would not be a probable but I live in humid Florida where 85 or 90 degrees is common in the first week of November. Pulled into the shop to get it checked. The nice mechanic assured me it was probably just Freon and hooked me up to a machine. Meanwhile, kids are texting me that they are ready to go. Well, it definitely needed Freon but now the compressor wasn’t working. I was really getting ready to lose it at this point. My frustration level was on the brink of meltdown. It was at that point I just began thanking God. It was small and weak at first for minor and insignificant things until my frustration began to break and I could feel thankfulness and peace begin permeate my mind and spirit.
Sometimes to “forget all that” I have to dig into Psalm 103 and thank the Lord for the things that He does whether I am walking by faith or not. The days when the details of life overwhelm me because see those days are not going away. The pathway is through the wilderness. He makes a way through wastelands. Trusting God brings refreshment to our souls, but does not exempt us from trials or troubles in life. The table is prepared in the Presence of our enemies not some grand banquet hall on the other side.
In Lamentations 3:20, it says, “I will never forget this awful time…” Sadly you may not. The only way to forget the past is hinted at in verse 21, “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this…” These words of encouragement are offered to us by someone who struggles to release the past and grab hold of the future…is that you today? I find that when I begin to feel like I am falling or drowning in trouble – I remember Peter walking on the water to Jesus. When his faith failed, Jesus grabbed hold of his hand pulling him to safety. Lamentations 3:22-24, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
I Corinthians 2:1-5 (NLT) When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.
It is my profound belief that if Christians would live more transparent and honest lives that the Light of His Love would have an impact all around us. If believers would stop worrying about creating a life that like they “think” Jesus wants from them and focus on simply praising Him with ALL that they are and giving Him their WHOLE heart something in the atmosphere would change. We are all battling flesh no matter how holy we act in church or around other people. We all sin. So why are we compelled to judge anyone else since sin is sin none more vile than the other and all equally condemning? Why can’t we take God’s Word to heart, plant it and grow it rather than the opinion of others and offenses of others? When will Jesus be enough? When I decide that I will forget everything except Jesus Christ the one who was crucified? Church is not some big fancy building. I am the temple of God’s Spirit and so are you. What I bring to the building is what fills it. If I cannot bring a heart set on Jesus Christ alone, what do you think everyone else is doing?
Can I just encourage you today as the Lord encourages me? God will not forget you so you have nothing to fear. Jesus Christ sealed our salvation. All I must do is accept Him as my Savior and Lord. He has it all worked out. I can rest assured just each tiny sparrow that God has not lost sight of me and that I am important to Him. (Luke 12:5-6) It says in Isaiah that my name is inscribed in His Hand. I have nothing to fear. I do not need to worry. There is no need to look back and dwell on the past. Nothing of worth there is wasted. I have a future and hope ahead of me filled with life and life everlasting. Imagine the impact if this is the message of hope that believers shared with the world with full confidence.
Psalm 103:22 (NLT) Praise the Lord, everything he has created, everything in all his kingdom. Let all that I am praise the Lord.