Keeping the Past in the Past (Philippians 3:13-14)
Philippians 3:13-14, Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Paul pictures himself as an athlete in a race putting forth all his strength and pressing on with determination and concentration in order to finish the course and win the prize. His aim is to reach and fulfill the goal that Christ has set for his life. Paul was faithful to the Lord’s purpose as he pressed toward the goal of the prize. We cannot move on if we give up, give in, or give out. President Abraham Lincoln is considered one of the greatest presidents in our nations history. Abraham Lincoln is a great example of being faithful to a purpose. He didn’t lose heart or give up. He had a tough road ahead to get to where he wanted to go. If anyone could have quit, it would have been him.
Notice: The timeline of events leading up to his office of presidency:
In 1832 he lost his job and was defeated in the Illinois legislature.
In 1833 his business went bankrupt.
In 1834 he was elected to state legislature, but the next year his sweetheart died.
In 1835 he had a nervous breakdown.
In 1838 he was defeated for state speaker for the house.
In 1843 he was defeated for his race for congress.
In 1846 he was elected to congress.
In 1848 he lost re-election.
In 1849 he was rejected for a federal land officer appointment.
In 1854 he was defeated for the senate.
In 1856 he was defeated for the nomination for Vice-President.
In 1858 he was defeated again for the senate.
Abraham Lincoln could be considered a loser if he had need been faithful to his purpose. In 1861 Abraham Lincoln was elected as the 16th President of the United States of America. Today he’s not known for his past failures but for what he did and who he became. Abraham Lincoln, like the apostle Paul, learned how to move on, get over it, and stay faithful to a purpose.
Throughout our lives, all kinds of distractions and temptations, such as life’s worries, riches and evil desires, threaten to choke off our commitment to Christ. We must not take our eyes off the prize. That means “forgetting what is behind,” We must not dwell on past fears, difficulties and failures, allowing Satan to frustrate or overwhelm us with guilt; that Christ has freed us from. What matters most is what is ahead in regard to Christ’s purposes for us and our final and priceless reward with him in heaven.
James Merritt said, “Paul had to forget past guilt, past grief, past glory, and past grudges.” One of the Christians biggest problems is dwelling on the past. You cannot run a race while looking backward. Too many Christians are still stuck in the past. We can never be who we ought to be if we are focused on the failures, disappointments, and heartaches. Paul wasted no time on the past. He was running the race for Christ. Paul would not focus on the past. He was looking ahead and determined to stay focused on Christ. Paul was serious about not allowing the past to hinder his present. Warren Wiersbe said, “There were things in Paul’s past that could have been weights to hold him back, but they became inspirations to speed him ahead. The events did not change, but his understanding of them changed.”
Whether filled with the good, the bad, or the outrageous, the past is set in stone and there is nothing we do can to change it. Therefore, we can do one of two things. We can dwell on the past and focus upon our failures and shortcomings; or, lest we repeat it, we can look to the past, learn from it, and move forward. When we focus on the past, we cannot make any contributions for the future. This is what Satan wants us to do. He wants us to wallow in guilt and self-pity. He wants to put us out of commission for Christ.
Life is full of ups and downs, good times and bad times, times of encouragement and times of discouragement. Everyone can look back on their lives and wish that they could do some things over, things that they wish they could change, and things that they regret that ever happened. Everyone has had skeletons in their closets. In life we can learn from and grow through past experiences, or we can dwell on and be defeated by past experiences. Failure is not final when God is in control. Let go of your past today. It will set you free to do wonders for Christ beyond your wildest dreams.
Point to Ponder:
It takes determination to be used of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Right now. Reach forth as if the finish line is at your grasps, and pursue the purpose the Lord has laid on your heart.
Questions to Consider:
Are you faithful to the Lord’s purpose for your life?
What is the Lord speaking to you right now about letting go of?
PRAYER: Lord, You see my pain and You know my grief. There are memories I don’t want to relive, but I can’t erase them. They come when I least expect it, and the weight of the emotions threatens to consume me. In You I am safe, not only from the past, but from lingering memories as well. In Jesus name, AMEN.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.