Philippians 3:13 (NIV) “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,”
Forgetting the past…We are encouraged that in order to move forward that we must forget the past…but how? It’s impossible to not think of things that hurt us? shameful things we did? painful days? Some of those things, when we’re honest with ourselves, we will always remember. So, why does Paul say, “forgetting the past?” How can you say you will never look back again? The key isn’t in not remembering, but how you remember. It’s not in not looking back, but why you look back.
It’s your frame of mind. Remember Lot’s wife? God allowed Lots family to escape the destruction of Sodom, but was warned to not look back. (Genesis 19:17). They were leaving…
One of the most used pieces of ammunition by those who don’t believe in God is – “the bible is written from the perspective that the world is flat” They look at quotes like, “Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?” from the latter part of Isaiah 40:21 and reason, how could God inspire someone to write words for Him while believing the world is flat? Wouldn’t God allow all of those who are anointed by Him to fully understand all the truths of His creation?
It’s amazing how we allow education to prevent, cripple or extinguish faith in God. Especially science, astronomy and medicine. The more that God allows people to discover, the more people say God is not there. That man created God to explain what they did not understand.
Check out what 1 Corinthians 1: 18-31 and 1 Corinthians 2:13 says…
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”[a]
20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 2:13
13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Now after reading those verses…go back to Isaiah 40. Consider this, the verse immediately after the one speaking of ‘the foundations of the earth’ states…
“It is He who sits above the circle of the earth…”
Wow! “Sits above the circle of the earth”. I’m no whiz in geometry, but the last time I checked a circle was ROUND. Wow, for those who are skeptical, here’s real bible evidence of knowledge that the earth was round in the what we call the late bronze to early iron age. Our God is awesome!!!
Now dig this…God is a God of order. He has always allowed different things to occur during different dispensations of time. Some find it hard to believe that people lived for hundreds of years as stated in Genesis. While, if you were living then, you would find it hard to believe that people would be able to travel by air hundreds of miles in a matter of hours.
As much as we think we know right now, with our educated selves, there is still more about the earth and universe that we DON’T know than that we DO know.
There is still so much we don’t know. So much we have not discovered. And, some things we may never discover.
If Jesus delays His return, future generations will look at our knowledge now that think that we were primitive in what we knew.
There is still so much our modern, contemporary, civilized selves haven’t overcome…
How dare us with our limited knowledge, come on God’s earth and through the little knowledge accumulated from others before us, we decide that there is no God? How foolish is that?
How would you like for someone to come into your house on a day and through observing one room out of many determine that you don’t live there?
Looking back at Isaiah 40…verse 21, ”the foundations of the earth” is in reference to time…from the beginning. One of the Hebrew words used for foundation in the Old Testament us Yasad…it means to establish, build up, to appoint or assign. It’s less about a literal foundation and more about establishing…beginning.
It’s speaking figuratively not literally. Much like today when we say ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunset’ fully knowing that the sun actually does neither.
Isaiah 40:22 is speaking of position and shape, ”above the circle of the earth”.
Use this as ammunition for when someone is critical of God’s existence due to what people knew thousands of years ago. And be very careful not to allow your education to weaken your faith.
Isaiah 40:21-23 (NKJV)
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. 23 He brings the princes to nothing;
He makes the judges of the earth useless.
Life on this earth is far from easy. It takes great effort and struggle just to stay alive. Think about it…
You have to eat and drink, not just every day, but several times a day to stay healthy.
About 71% of the earth is water and about 57% of the land is uninhabitable.
Many of the earth’s climates are not conducive to life with great extremes of heat and cold. Even the habitable climates require great effort for survival through proper clothing and shelter.
There’s a wide variety of storms and natural disasters with the potential to kill then give way to a beautiful day.
There are germs, invisible to the naked eye, all around us with the potential to wipe out millions.
Most wildlife can easily overcome any man.
Even our bodies must maintain the proper blood pressure, proper temperature, etc. with very little room for deviation.
Our hearts have to continue beating for us to continue living.
LIFE is fragile…frail…and uncertain. God created us to depend on Him. He is our keeper, He is our peace. Only HE sustains our lives!
He encourages us in…
“The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil…”
Even though God gave man dominion over the earth, He created us to depend totally on Him.
Never begin the day without praying for His PROVISION, PROTECTION and POWER to make through the day, and STAY ALIVE in this hostile world.
Psalm 121 (NKJV) 121 I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. 8 The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.
The fun and rush of the holiday season can be intoxicating. The trill of seeing someone open a gift that they really wanted can provide quite the emotional high. If this one done within our budget, then all is well but…THEN comes December 26th..
If we spent money we couldn’t afford…used money for our bills…borrowed money for gifts or simply over spent, we can come down hard off that high straight into anxiety, worry, buyers remorse, stress and even depression…You’ve got a HOLIDAY HANGOVER.
When the real world comes calling…we remember that bills, obligations and commitments didn’t stop for Christmas.
If you do have a holiday hangover, I offer the same remedy as for a hangover from alcohol…time.
And just as someone whose been drunk with liquor…next year remember how you feel right now when you’re tempted to drink from the same bottle of HOLIDAY SPIRITS next year.
Proverbs 23:29-35 (MSG)
Who are the people who are always crying the blues? Who do you know who reeks of self-pity?
Who keeps getting beat up for no reason at all? Whose eyes are bleary and bloodshot? It’s those who spend the night with a bottle, for whom drinking is serious business. Don’t judge wine by its label, or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor. Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with— the splitting headache, the queasy stomach. Do you really prefer seeing double, with your speech all slurred, Reeling and seasick, drunk as a sailor? “They hit me,” you’ll say, “but it didn’t hurt; they beat on me, but I didn’t feel a thing. When I’m sober enough to manage it, bring me another drink!”
Do you feel that He sometimes allows others to ‘get away’ with more than you?
Do you feel He requires more of you than others?
More suffering, more patience, more strength?
Are there some people in your life of whom you expect more? You expect them to treat you better. You expect them to ‘have your back’, you expect them to have more patience with you and for you.
You expect them to be more loyal, dependable, caring, loving? How does it make you feel when they aren’t? It’s okay when people who don’t know us let us down, but it’s different when those closer to us do…because of our RELATIONSHIP with them.
Because of our relationship WE EXPECT MORE.
That’s how God feels about you. Jesus says in…
Luke 12:48, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required.”
He loves you. He sent HIS only Son to die for you. He’s invested much into His relationship with you and He expects more. He’s invested His Son, grace, mercy, the anointing of His Holy Spirit into you.
When we think life’s not fair, we must ask ourselves is it fair that Jesus had to die for our sins. You expect some people to be ‘ride or die’. You expect some people to put you first, you expect that some people don’t give up on you…because of your relationship with them.
I just want to remind US today, that’s what God expects of us. God didn’t expect Job to give up. Job’s affictions were not fair, but God knew Job could be trusted with them. They were severe, but they were temporary.
Be encouraged today. What ever you may be going through, even though it seems severe to you, remember that God trusts you with it, and it’s only temporary. He has invested His love into you. He has invested His purpose into you…so don’t give up on Him.
Back in the day, people used to get directions or purchase a road atlas or map, but now most people use GPS technology. They either have it in their car or on their phone. As you know GPS technology works off of the many satellites in space. All you do is put in your destination, and it GUIDES YOUR PATH TURN BY TURN until you, hopefully safely reach your destination.
You can call it GUIDANCE FROM BEYOND THE SKY.
The only problem is that sometimes you can LOSE your signal, and if you don’t have a map, atlas or WRITTEN directions, you can FIND yourself LOST.
Or, sometimes the GPS can take you on on route in which you did’t want to go.
I think by now you get the HOLY ANALOGY I’m making here. Some people trust their GPS more than they trust GOD. Our Heavenly Father…
Have you noticed that people treat Christmas shopping like a duty, an obligation… almost like a job?
One person will ask…
“Have you finished your Christmas shopping?”
“Are you ready for Christmas?”
and another will answer…
“No, I HAVE , GOT to get it done!”
During this season, people spend enough money to make or break many retailers’ fiscal year…
During this time of year some people are prepared because they’ve saved for the holiday…
During this time of year some people spend money they can’t afford in order to buy presents…
During this time of year some people borrow money and end up paying for this Christmas into and beyond the next.
Are any of these people you?
Think about the fervor, the diligence, the stress….
Think of the hustle, the bustle, the FUSStle…
Consider this. What if people approached benevolence with the same attitude they approach the holiday?
Have you given to the poor? homeless? needy? orphaned?
Have you visited the sick? lonely? imprisoned?
No, but I HAVE GOT to get started!!!!
If we, in the Body of Christ, approached cheerful, unobligated giving all year as we do at Christmas…what kind of world would this be?
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NKJV)
7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
Just think about it…
Matthew 25: 31-46
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[c] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him,[d] saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”