The message was brought by Rev. Tim Surber.
Philippians 3: 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.13 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,14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.15 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.
God is still giving victory today. Paul was a Pharisee yet had no victory without god. He said he had not reached (apprehended) all he should. None of us will before we get to heaven. Paul didn’t count on his education or his religion of being a Pharisee to merit his salvation and the imputed righteousness that was in him. He looked to Jesus Christ. He forgot about his past failures. He was a persecutor of the church. He held the coats of those who stoned Stephen. He fought against Jesus. He could have looked at all that and came up with the excuse to quit or give up. He didn’t. When we exercise our faith and believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, we depend not upon what we did but what Jesus did. We reach for the things ahead—press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling.
Do we fully realize the call of God on our life? It’s a high calling. We didn’t determine to turn over a new leaf. It was a calling of God. We must look ahead. Satan will use our past against us if we let him. We must walk in newness of life. We’ve all sinned and come short, but it’s more about what Jesus did for us. When we trust that, we can live godly in this world. God doesn’t bring up our past failures. When he forgives them, they are gone. We have been set free.
In Luke some came to Jesus saying they would follow him but asked to go do something else first. Jesus said no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. What do we have to go back to? There is nothing. We have a new, clean heart. It’s not a natural reaction but the Spirit of God that presses us forward. We don’t have a promise of tomorrow. We need to burn some things in our past and move on. We ought not to have a desire to go to the same places we did when we were lost. John 15 says abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. The Holy Spirit warns us when we head toward sin. It’s not God’s will that we sin, but if we do we have help. We’re an imperfect people with a perfect God. What we have is based on His righteousness not ours. Our gratitude for what God has done for us should press us to live godly. Jesus allowed himself to be nailed to the cross. Forget the past and reach to what is ahead in Him.
Our sins are as far as the east is from the west. There is no finding them. God won’t throw them back in our face. In Second Timothy, Paul says to stir up the gift of God that is in us. I know I’m saved because I know who saved me. We can believe God’s Word. When sins from the past come up, leave them alone. Be assured by the name of Jesus, the only name by which we can be saved. God will wipe all things away one day. The curse will be gone. He is preparing a place for us and said that he will come again to receive us unto himself. Right now we’re waiting on the trumpet to sound so that we can be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
Instead of fretting over past failures—and we all have them—remember they are gone if we’re saved. It’s no longer about our failures. Paul said he was the chief of sinners. God saved him. Jesus was revealed to him as the Son of God. From that day on Paul went forth following him. He was in prison for many years for following Jesus but he was free from sin. God wasn’t through with him, so from a prison cell he was mightily used by God.
Peter declared he would follow Jesus to the death, but later he denied knowing him three times. In John 21 some of the disciples were fishing. It was after the resurrection of Jesus. They fished all night but caught nothing. The next morning someone on the shore told them to cast their net to the other side. They caught fish. They realized it was Jesus on the shore. He had fixed breakfast for them. Jesus spoke to Peter. Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Peter was restored to fellowship and service. He was empowered to preach the Word. Instead of looking at his failure in denying the Lord, he allowed God to use him. God is in the restoration business in our lives today.
All of us bear hurt either physically or emotionally by some means, many times by the words of others. If we’re not careful we’ll let those past hurts hinder us from serving God. We find the healing to go on in God. We should realize the need to watch our words and the way they may harm others. When the past hurts hinder, stop a minute. Recognize what Jesus suffered for us. No matter what was done to him, he went on. God heals the wounds we may receive from others. We have to forgive. Withholding forgiveness is not an option. Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Jesus endured the cross. When we see what he did for us we realize we must forgive. Verse 3 reminds us to consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. God heals. We must move on.
We can forget the past whatever it was and move on for God. With him we can do all things.