Forward and upward
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:13-14 NKJ)
Hello Saints of God,
How are we doing in our walk with Jesus? Are we becoming like Him, which is the goal. To know Him so intimately, and desire Him so much that we lose everything that hinders our apprehending of Him. As John the Baptist stated, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30). What of us has to die so that we look more like Jesus? We want to get to that place of declaring that “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). The state of transformation into Christ-likeness is a life long journey (2Cor. 3:18; 1John 3:2). Nonetheless, it is a state that we must be constantly pursuing with all of our being. I have been challenged in the last few weeks with some of those things that are holding me back from becoming more like Jesus. The first step, I have realized, is to desire to be more like Jesus. Do I want to do the work involved in becoming more like Him – which is a dying process. Take a moment to read Philippians 3. What Paul seems to be advocating is a complete cut with the past life, and a putting to death of any former thing in which I used to put my hope and confidence. Twice Paul states that it is a “pressing on” – a striving towards, a stretching forward with eager desire to achieve that which one wants to apprehend. Do we eagerly desire to be like Jesus? If we do, then what are willing to let go of to become more like Him?As I have meditated on Philippians 3, I have noticed that it is Paul’s heart to rid himself of past chains and mindsets that prevent him from reaching his goal of becoming more like Jesus. In verse 13, he states that it is only “one thing”, yet I count three parts to that “one thing”: “forgetting, reaching and pressing”. In context, Paul has put to death his trust in his Jewish upbringing and status in the Jewish hierarchy for any self-righteousness of his own doing. He was not trusting his resumé for favor with God – his accomplishments meant nothing. But what about all the heart issues that came with being such an elite Jew? This has been my wrestling this past weekend - dealing with passed offenses, attitudes, grudges, memories, behaviors, reactions, patterns, sins, etc. that keep me from moving forward into Christ. I don’t want to act like I used to when a situation arises, I want to be like Jesus and respond the way He did/does to life’s challenges – in love, forgiveness, with grace and mercy – “doing unto others as I would want them to treat me”. Jesus was full of grace and truth…am I? In order to go forward and upward in Christ, I need to first “forget those things that are behind”. As the author of Hebrews writes, “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). I cannot allow the things of the past to hinder my forward race! In both Philippians 3, and Hebrews 12, the picture is of a runner running a race. Can that runner win if she is focused on past failures, hurdles that have not been cleared yet? Can the runner win if his mind is preoccupied with the trials and relational issues of the past week? There needs to be focus to win a race – focus on the prize and destination, not the issues, attitudes, mindsets and problems of the past. Hebrews 12:2 exhorts us to “fix our eyes on Jesus”, not the obstacles. Jesus is our goal and prize; the obstacles, sins, hurts of the past, offenses, fears, memories, unforgiveness, etc. only produce anxiety and will trip us up, preventing us from getting to the finish line. It is hard to go forward when one is tethered to a heavy weight, like offense and unforgiveness. It is hard to “press on” when something is pressing on my heart and mind. Before I run, I want to cast my cares unto God, who cares for me (1Peter 5:7). Undealt with sin will always hold us back from achieving the goal, for it is a constant open door for the enemy to accuse us and trip us up. What sins of the heart, mind, soul and flesh are preventing us from running the race – Holy Spirit wants to deal with that so we can be freed from that “entanglement”. In a nutshell, to go forward and upward, we don’t want to keep looking backward. Let’s sever the old ways and put on the new self. Spend some time this week meditating on Colossians 3. I really believe that it is time for the church to start reflecting Christ, not our old human nature. We need to grow up into Him, and grow out of our old nature – maturity is what the Lord is after. Mature followers of Jesus who have been freed from the past and are passionately pursuing and running after Jesus shine as lights in a dark world. Let’s press on together, reaching forward, not backwards, for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Be rewarded this week as you diligently seek Him,
"Advancing the Kingdom of God by releasing Spirit-filled followers to serve Jesus in freedom and joy."