Bible Verse: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, 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 3:12-14
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:22-24; Joshua 1:1-4; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Numbers 14:1-4
In his letter to the church at Philippi, the apostle Paul said he still had a long way to go before he was all God called him to be. But he focused on one thing: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (v.13-14) (emphasis added). Paul’s language envisions a runner, straining for the finish line, not watching his back but solely focused on the end.
As a sprinter in my younger days, I was taught that looking either behind or beside you at the other runners slows you down. The number one rule was to focus on the finish line.
When God brought Israel out of Egypt, the complaints began surprisingly quickly. They began grumbling against Moses and Aaron and even wanted to choose a new leader to take them back to Egypt (e.g., Numbers 14:1-4)! They wanted to go back into slavery. They thought that slavery was easier than trusting the God who had just freed them. The memory of God’s miraculous works quickly melted in the heat of their desert trials.
When God called Joshua to lead the people of Israel to the Promised Land, the first thing God said was, “Moses my servant is dead. Now you and all these people get ready to cross the Jordan River” (Joshua 1:2). God was telling Joshua, “I’m passing the baton to you. Moses was a great leader, but now it’s your turn to enter the life I have called you to.” Joshua had to leave the familiarity of the past and trust God for the future, regardless of how overwhelming it seemed or how long it might take.
To live a life of purpose and godly impact, we must “press in” to God and His plans for us. The past can often be the biggest roadblock to our future. Guilt, shame, and feelings of inadequacy all hold us back from achieving God’s best for us.
Our past doesn’t define us. Our identity in Christ does. When we give our lives to Christ, we are new creations, and our old life is gone (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). God wants us to trust Him when He says we are His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10) and created in His image (Genesis.1:26-27).
If Paul had wallowed in guilt and shame over his days of persecuting Christians, he would have never had the impact he did. If Joshua’s mind remained in Egypt, he couldn’t have led the people of Israel into the land God was giving them.
God has called each of us to impact those around us for Him. Our history is not our destiny. We’ll miss our future if we hang on to the past. “Press in” to God and the life He is calling you to today. Stop looking back – leave Egypt and the past behind.
Prayer: Father, please help me to let go of my past and “press in” to the life you have called me to. Please help me to forgive myself and see myself as you see me.
Reflection: Is there something you haven’t let go of in your past? Something you haven’t forgiven yourself for? Are you constantly hanging onto something God did in the past? It’s time to “press on’ to what God wants to do in and through you today!
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