Life is all about climbing monkey bars. Yes, monkey bars. We have seasons of life. We navigate through life by navigating through the seasons. Each season is to bring us to where God wants us for the next season. Each season prepares us for the next one. Paul notes that he wasn’t where he was meant to be when he wrote to the Philippians. He didn’t achieve the perfection. He was still running the race. But he was prepared to reach the end of the race and receive the prize. He understood that the prize was a heavenly one.
Paul made it clear that part of getting to the end of the race was letting go of the past and laying hold of the future. Monkey bars! When you are passing across the monkey bars from one side to the next, you have to let go of the one bar to move your hand to the next. If you don’t let go and grasp a hold to the next bar, you will end up hanging on the bars going nowhere. In time your dangling weight will cause you to let go completely.
Today, let go of the past. Forget what once was and lay hold to what God is doing right now, and what He has promised for the future. Keep pressing forward. Keep running the race. You too can reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize.
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” – Philippians 3:12-14 [NLT]
Well my daughter’s Cross Country season is over. I asked if she wanted to participate in Track and Field; however, she said she doesn’t think she will. I asked why because I know she loves to run. She said she isn’t a fast runner. She’s a distance runner. Many of the Cross Country team members were fast and they would start out really well, but then she’d be ahead. Their energy fizzled a bit and she kept a steady pace.
In our Christian walk, we can start out really well and fizzle. I see it time and time again. Some people get this passion for Jesus when they accept Him into their lives. They get a huge Bible. They are highlighting. They are raising hands. They start telling everyone about Jesus and they look to be on fire. But that quick burst suddenly fizzles. In time it looks as if the light has gone out.
Paul told us to press forward on the race that is set out before us. It doesn’t have to be a quick rush forward to surge ahead. Our walk with Christ is a steady one—day by day, moment by moment. We aren’t in a race against each other trying to be the “better Christian” as if there was a thing. Each of us is simply to continue fixing our eyes on Jesus and trying to follow God’s will for our lives. We will stumble. We will mess up. God’s grace is enough. The bottom line is—keep pressing forward.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24 [NIV]
“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” – Philippians 3:14 [NLT]
Here’s a sermon / devotion outline for Genesis 19. You can download the outline below.
Don’t Look Back
“We are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it” (v. 13 NASB).
LOT HESITATED – v. 15 – so the men seized his hand and the hands of his wife and daughters. FOR THE COMPASSION OF THE LORD WAS UPON HIM.
When they were outside city, “Escape for your life. DO NOT LOOK BEHIND YOU and do not stay anywhere in the valley” (v. 17 NASB).
“BUT HIS WIFE, FROM BEHIND HIM, LOOKED BACK, AND SHE BECAME A PILLAR OF SALT” (v. 26 NASB).
Lot’s daughters – got dad drunk – got pregnant – Moab and Ben-Ammi — Moabites and Ammonites.
You can take Lot’s daughters out of Sodom but you couldn’t take Sodom out of Lot’s daughters.
- Remember what the Lord has said and done in your life – journal, remind yourself when you need reminding. Ex: Passover Meal – reminder of Exodus and God seeing His people out of Egypt. “Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually. Remember His wonders which He has done, His marvels and the judgments uttered by His mouth.” – Psalm 105:4-5 [NIV].
- Don’t look back desiring your old life. Lot’s wife looked back because she didn’t want to let go of what was back there. Isaiah 43:18-19 says “Forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland” (NLT). Philippians 3:13-14 “Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus” (CEB).
- Seek the Holy Spirit to help you in your weakness and to help you pray (Romans 8:26) and to live your new life in Christ (Romans 8:11).
- Keep yourself in God’s Word and remember to focus on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute, excellent, worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8)
- Belt of Truth
- Breastplate of Righteousness
Looks are deceiving. My poor dog was walking along the sidewalk like normal, and then up ahead was a Halloween decoration swaying in the wind. He jumped and then he dropped down in his hunting stance and slowly made his way toward the strange looking mummy figure. As we walked by, his eyes were glued on the mummy to make sure it did not attack. Even after we passed by, Max kept turning his head and looking back, focusing only on this falsity. He believed that the mummy was real and that it would come and attack. As a result, he approached the area slowly and was hesitant to take his eyes off of the decoration.
We often see things swaying in the wind and believe a certain way. Our minds can go wild when we have something before us. We take a fake mummy and turn it into a full on nightmare. I’m sure many adults can relate when they think back to that shirt that was hanging in their closet that they swore was a monster as a child. As we know, monsters do not exist.
The devil likes to use our fears and worries to his advantage. He loves when we think the goal is out of reach, when we feel like something is not going to work out, and when we think things are not going our way. We see something that is not the truth, but it seems like it could be the truth. Or in our minds we imagine what could happen– like the mummy could be real and come and attack us– rather than what is really the truth– that the mummy is just some plastic cut out used for seasonal décor. Like my dog, we then begin to focus on the mummy more than anything else.
When we focus on the mummy instead of focusing on reality, we tend to drop down in our own stance– our stance of fear and doubt. With believing the lies we are told and letting our minds run wild, we lose steam for moving forward with what God has in store for us. We sidestep, we fall back, we consider hiding. When David faced Goliath, he didn’t focus on the size of the giant. Instead he focused on the size of his God. When we have a mummy swaying in our life, remember you have a God bigger than any mummy. The devil is the father of lies, and he wants you to believe otherwise. Keep pressing forward. Through Jesus we have victory.
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 3:12-14 [NASB]