TO MOVE FORWARD IN HIS WALK WITH CHRIST, THE APOSTLE PAUL MOVED BEYOND HIS PAST. IN THIS PASSAGE—PAUL IS USING THE ANALOGY OF A RUNNER RUNNING A RACE. TAKING OFF THOSE THINGS WHICH HOLDS HIM BACK. WHAT COULD HOLD HIM BACK? HIS PAST.
MOVING WITH ALL OF OUR JUNK LIKE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES
TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT—25 LB WEIGHT LOST —CARRYING BARBELL PUTS IT INTO PERSPECTIVE
PAUL CALLED HIMSELF THE CHIEF OF SINNERS. HE HAD A LOT THAT THE DEVIL COULD REMIND HIM OF. BUT HIS DESIRE WAS TO BE SOLELY FOCUSED ON WHAT CHRIST HAD FOR HIM TO DO, THAT HE LEFT HIS PAST BEHIND.
TOO OFTEN WE ARE HANDCUFFED TO OUR SINFUL PAST OR EVEN TRIUMPHANT PAST THAT WE ARE USELESS FOR THE FUTURE.
CHAPTER 3 OF PHILIPPIANS—PAUL EVALUATES HIS PAST—RECOGNIZES ITS WORTHLESSNESS IN VIEW OF HOW INCREDIBLE GOD IS.
A SIDE NOTE—MANY OF YOU HAVE GREAT LOSSES IN YOUR PAST LIKE THE DEATH OF A CHILD OR SPOUSE. MAYBE YOU HAVE BEEN ABUSED AS A CHILD OR EXPERIENCED THE RAVAGE OF DIVORCE.
NOT BEING FLIPPANT WITH YOUR PAIN. GO THROUGH THE PAIN BUT NEVER GET OVER IT. PAUL SAYS—WEEP WITH THOSE WHO WEEP AND REJOICE WITH THOSE WHO REJOICE. GOD IS A GOD OF ALL COMFORT. FATHER TO THE FATHERLESS.
THE FOCUS TODAY IS HOW DO I MOVE FORWARD?
FIRST THING, IS I MUST DEAL WITH MY PAST.
IN PHILIPPIANS, PAUL ANSWERS THE QUESTION TO WHAT HIS LIFE GOAL IS . . . TO KNOW CHRIST.
TO GET THERE, HE MUST DEAL WITH HIS PAST.
HOW TO DO IT?
P—PLACE it behind you and put it into perspective.
- Realize you cannot change the past
- You can grieve and heal from the past
- Recognize the REALITY of your past.
- Make restitution to those you have harmed
- Forgive those who have harmed you
- Learn from others past.
- BUT YOU CANNOT CHANGE IT
LOVE BACK TO THE FUTURE MOVIES—WISH I COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND CHANGE THINGS . . .
Prayer for Serenity
God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
Trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
- Paul did not spend a lot of time with anxiety because of his past. He stated no one was a greater sinner than he was.
- PAUL’S MIND WAS SET ON THE THINGS OF GOD—FOCUSED AHEAD.
- We will face consequences but the past cannot be changed. God can redeem it and use it for his good but it cannot be changed.
- Learn from it—Paul is not literally saying—just forget the past. We can’t do it. It is not bad to look back. In theology, we best learn God’s will by looking back and seeing His pattern. Learning from other’s mistakes so you don’t have to experience their pain but learn from their pattern.
Old Fred’s hospital bed is surrounded by well-wishers, but it doesn’t look good. Suddenly, he motions frantically to the pastor for something to write on. The pastor lovingly hands him a pen and a piece of paper. Fred uses his last bit of energy to scribble a note, and then dies.
The pastor thinks it best not to look at the note right away, so he places it in his jacket pocket. At Fred’s funeral, as the pastor is finishing his eulogy, he realizes he’s wearing the jacket he was wearing when Fred died.
“Fred handed me a note just before he died,” he says. “I haven’t looked at it, but knowing Fred, I’m sure there’s a word of inspiration in it for us all.”
Opening the note, he reads aloud, “Help! You’re standing on my oxygen hose!”
Submitted by Ed Rowell, Franklin, Tennessee; source: unknown
- V7—in the perfect tense—Paul has come to the final decision only after considering matters with deliberate judgment.
- Paul uses a sheet analogy with its columns marked assets and liabilities.
- In the past, certain things Paul considered gains. For him—pedigree, covenant connection, zeal, and the like—Paul actually valued.
PHILIPPIANS 3:7-8–The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.
- Now it has changed. Paul now bundles up these many gains and treats them as a single loss.
- He now re-evaluates what he once valued—he perceives with horror the things he had viewed as benefiting him had in reality been working to destroy him because they were blinding him to his need for the real righteousness which God required that he himself could in no way achieve by his own efforts however earnest they may be.
- Once Paul encountered Christ, he gladly gave up all his former advantages to gain this one person of supreme worth.
- Paul LEARNED that he had to abandon his past advantages precisely because they were the very things that had kept him from coming to God. Kept him from surrendering to Christ—only way to God.
- Let it go—before it paralyzes you—“remember Lot’s wife”—when looking back gets in the way of God’s work—we must let go of yesterday. Can’t look back when your hand is working the plow. Why did Lot’s wife look back? Sodom was home; it was comfortable and safe; good memories. God had called her forward and she disobeyed and looked back.
Our past can paralyze us.
In his book Teaching the Elephant to Dance, James Belasco describes how trainers shackle young elephants with heavy chains to deeply embedded stakes. In that way the elephant learns to stay in its place. Older, powerful elephants never try to leave—even though they have the strength to pull the stake and walk away. Their conditioning has limited their movements. With only a small metal bracelet around their foot attached to nothing, they stand in place. The stakes are actually gone!
Like powerful elephants, many companies and people are bound by earlier conditioned restraints. The statement “We have always done it this way” is as limiting to an organization’s progress as the unattached chain around an elephant’s foot.
Yet when the circus tent catches on fire and the elephant sees the flames and smells the smoke, it forgets its old conditioning and runs for its life.
Adapted from Hans Finzel, Change Is Like a Slinky: 30 strategies for promoting and surviving change in your organization (Northf
- Forget those wrongs done—make restitution with those who have wronged—seek their forgiveness and then MOVEON! Memory of past failures can paralyze one with guilt and despair. It can be a spiral of complete destruction leading to shame.
- PAUL’S MIND COULD BE FILLED WITH ALL KIND OF FALSE VOICES FROM THE DEVIL—PAUL YOU ARE NO GOOD—YOU HELPED STONE STEPHEN—YOU USE TO ARREST CHRISTIANS AND THROW THEM INTO JAIL—WHAT RIGHT DO YOU HAVE TO PREACH? WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN JAIL PAUL? YOU ARE A PHARISEE!! GO BACK TO THAT LIFE?
- PHILIPPIANS 4:8
- Forget too those attainments so far achieved as a Christian, the recollection of which might cause one to put life into neutral and to say, “I have arrived.” Fills you with PRIDE—must recognize we are POWERLESS!!!!
- Forget in such a way that the past, good or bad, will have NO negative bearing on one’s present spiritual growth or conduct.
- Guilt destroys your confidence.
A—ACKNOWLEDGE your past.
Paul again and again acknowledged his past. He was full of pride, he was the
chief of sinners, he killed people, and was horrible. He took the mask off.
1 Timothy 1:15—but for Paul—He weighed it all out—like a debit and
credit—left it all behind compared to moving forward—to be in Christ.
–He was able to see how wicked he was before Christ and grew to appreciate
what Christ had done for him. The word grace appears at least by the 2nd verse of
everyone of his letters. He is SO GRATEFUL for the grace of God.
–You are only as sick as your secrets. We carry them as baggage and don’t let them go.
–Psalm 32:1-5—Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be—you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean. Count yourself lucky—God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him. When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up. Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God. Suddenly the pressure was gone— my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared.
–James 5:16—Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.
–Proverbs 28:13–You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.
Frederick the Great of Prussia—inspected the prison. Man after man cried—I am innocent. Only one man sat silently as the king passed. Man said, “I robbed a man and I am guilty.” King insisted that this scoundrel thief not to remain to corrupt these innocent men. Set this man free. Only those who openly confess are set free.
S—SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD—step back and see the sovereignty of God in it all.
–God allowed your past for some reason
–Because of sin in the world and the free will of man, wickedness takes place.
–what the devil meant for evil, God means for God.
–God can take the most difficult things in your life and work in His sovereign
will and weave it into His glory. No co-incidents in this life—God-
–Paul saw God’s hand over ever difficulty he had—encouraging the Philippians
that his imprisonment has been for their glory—Greetings from Caesar’s
–How does Paul KNOW that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ?
Because he found it to be incredibly true in his sufferings.
T—TRIUMPHANT OVER IT—through the power of the resurrection of Christ.
PHILIPPIANS 3:10—POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION
HE IS IN THE MIRACLE BUSINESS.
HE CAN TAKE YOUR PAST AND REDEEM IT AND BRING HIMSELF
Leave your past with Him—let it go.
|A family from a remote area was making their first visit to a big city. They checked in to a grand hotel and stood in amazement at the impressive sight. Leaving the reception desk they came to the elevator entrance. They’d never seen an elevator before, and just stared at it, unable to figure out what it was for.An old lady hobbled towards the elevator and went inside. The door closed. About a minute later, the door opened and out came a stunningly good-looking young woman.Dad couldn’t stop staring. Without turning his head he patted his son’s arm and said, “Go get your mother, son.”
Owen Bourgaize, Castel, Guernsey, United Kingdom
IT IS A MATTER OF TRUST—DO YOU TRUST GOD?
IF YOU ARE STILL ANXIOUS AND ASK GOD REPEATEDLY TO FORGIVE YOU OF THE SAME SIN OVER AND OVER AGAIN—DOES IT SHOW YOU TRUST HIM?
PHILIPPIANS 3:13-14—I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.