Her bitter words poured out like acid, burning, accusatory. She told me about the rage that made her miserable for 20 years! Knowing the story, I could empathize because the time of which she spoke was one of awful disappointment and pain. My greater sorrow for her was that she had become stuck in that place, the sin and pain of it festering like an untreated wound, infecting her life. Later, as I thought over the conversation and prayed for her, I asked the wisdom of the eternal Spirit for my own life. “Reveal to me, Lord of eternity, those places where I have lost sight of You, where I have left things unresolved, where I have refused Your invitation to grow in grace.”
In this final week of 2017, I encourage you to do some emotional and spiritual housecleaning. With the help of the Spirit, consider what should be thrown out, who needs to be forgiven, where things need to be made strong, and – most important of all – how you can keep a future focus. A vision for life, that is secured in the promise of God, and formed around the assurance of eternal life is a critical component of the disciple’s life.
In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul talks about the story arc of his life. He had been scrupulous in religious zealotry, morally attentive to God’s Law. But then came that encounter with the Living Christ on the road to Damascus that upended his life. In that grace awakening, Saul, the Pharisee died and Paul, the Christian disciple was born. That man gave himself, without reserve, to the pursuit of God and the Kingdom. He was never content to sit around and review the past – regrets or accomplishments – however.
He says, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NIV)
What can we take from those lines today?
First – There is MORE!
Regrets or awards, 18 or 88, it is not time to sit down and say, “I have experienced all God has for me.” Each season has it’s own opportunities in the life of the Christ-follower. Is your hand extended to receive what God is offering, or is it closed around what you have come to think is ‘all there is?’
Second – The past cannot be relived and must be left behind.
Paul is not suggesting that who he was or what he had done was unimportant or even irrelevant. He was acknowledging the fact that to try to recapture yesterday is an exercise in futility. We learn from it, we celebrate it, we make restitution where necessary – but we refuse to walk backwards into the future!
Third- Lean into eternity!
The image behind Paul’s words is that of a runner approaching the end of a race, every part of his body reaching for the finish line. Jesus urges us to ‘lay up treasure in Heaven.’ In another passage, Paul reminds us that “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8, NIV)
Only God knows, truthfully, what is in store in 2018. As we follow Him, led by the Spirit, there is no need for fear, no lack of provision, and every good gift for His is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV)
Here is the word from the Word. As you confess, ‘there is MORE,’ may this promise keep you fruitful and effective in the Kingdom.
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises…. So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.” (2 Peter 1:3-5, 10, NLT)
Be Thou My Vision
Be Thou my Vision O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me save that Thou art
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping Thy presence my light
Be Thou my Wisdom and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me Lord
Thou my great Father I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one
High King of heaven my victory won
May I reach heaven’s joys bright heaven’s Sun
Heart of my own heart whatever befall
Still be my Vision O Ruler of all
Eleanor Henrietta Hull © Words: Public Domain
Jerry D. Scott, Pastor
Faith Discovery Church