Reader: “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,”
Response: “I press on.”
Scripture: Philippians 3:12-16
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.
Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Paul has spent the first part of this chapter writing about the priceless value of knowing Christ. His rich Jewish pedigree and past actions meant nothing to him and in fact, he called them garbage! Gaining the righteousness of Christ was everything. Wanting to know Christ better and better was his singular goal. Then we come to the above passage. Paul’s words certainly speak to me. My desire is to press on to become more and more Christlike. I want him to think and live his life in and through me. But I have noticed something else that rears its ugly head in the midst of my endeavor to press on. It is a voice ever reminding me of my past sins. Often it’s very specific things that happened even decades ago. This voice delights in pointing out these incidents as if it wants me to keep them in my memory bank. With it comes the message, “You will never be a holy person, so quit trying. You are a fraud. Skip the pious act. Your past has nailed you. If people knew about this, you’d be humiliated. Give it up. God knows the truth about you. You can’t fool him.” It is important that we recognize the source of that “voice” and call the father of lies a liar and to go back to hell. There was one truth in all those accusations. God does know the truth about you which is why his Son was born in a manger in Bethlehem to forgive all your sins from the past as well as those in the future. Paul pounded home the point that past conduct has no bearing on obtaining salvation and has no condemning power after salvation. God’s grace extended to people in Jesus Christ brings eternal redemption. “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead” is the goal and direction of living out the days of our lives. The ability to forget the past is a mark of spiritual maturity because it recognizes the full impact of Christ’s atonement. After all, God forgets our sins as far as the east is from the west. Our ability to forget our own sins is a mark of godliness. In a season when past actions can bring hurt to a family gathering, it’s important to repent and press on to what lies ahead. And when that “lying voice” comes around, laugh at him and tell him to go back where he came from.
Music: “What Child Is This?” Home Free Sorry for these guys two days in a row but WOW. You at least heard a true bass!!
Prayer: Searcher of hearts, it is a good day to me when thou givest me a glimpse of myself; sin is my greatest evil, but thou art my greatest good. I have cause to loathe myself, and not to seek self-honor, for no one desires to commend his own dunghill. My country, my family, my church fare worse because of my sins, for sinners bring judgment in thinking sins are small, or that God is not angry with them. Let me not take other good men as my example, and think I am good because I am like them, for all good men are not so good as thou desirest, are not always consistent, do not always follow holiness, do not feel eternal good in sore affliction. Show me how to know when a thing is evil which I think is right and good, how to know when what is lawful comes from an evil principle, such as desire for reputation or wealth by usury. Give me grace to recall my needs, my lack of knowing thy will in Scripture, of wisdom to guide others, of daily repentance, want of which keeps thee at bay, of the spirit of prayer, having words without love, of zeal for thy glory, seeking my own ends, of joy in thee and thy will, of love to others. And let me not lay my water pipe too short of the fountain, never touching the eternal spring, never drawing down water from above. ―The Valley of Vision,p.69