Are you living your Life in the Rearview Mirror

images-61The holidays were right around the corner and the memories were beginning to be made without me, as my family was already in Chicago waiting for my arrival. I was rushing around trying to get the office closed and get home so I could pack and head out of town to be on time for the family annual gathering.

Even though it was mind boggling because of everything that needed done, yet some how I had locked the office door and was now in my car driving away. Then out of nowhere came a thought like an enemy arrow that pierced my already tired mind, “I hadn’t turned off the lights in my office”. I began looking in my rearview mirror trying to see if I could tell if they were on or not. Needless to say, I


You cannot go forward as long as you’re looking behind you!


wasn’t looking forward any longer. It’s amazing how a person might think he could go forward safely and be looking in the rearview mirror. Well, it doesn’t work! Ahead of me was a line of cars waiting for a train to finish crossing the road. When I finally looked ahead, I immediately tried to swerve but ended up crashing into the stopped cars.

I learned a valuable lesson that day that has helped me throughout my life. You cannot go forward as long as you’re looking behind you! Paul says, in Phil 3:12-13, “I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead”. Paul exhorts the believers in Philippi to not look behind. They were like so many people in our day that are so fixed on the past that they are hindered from going forward in their lives.

Whether it was a bad decision when they were young, maybe an abortion, a bad marriage and act of violence or possible many different things. One thing for sure is that not dealing with the past will keep our eyes looking behind us and hinder us from going forward with our lives. In verse 14, Paul continues by saying, “I


Only when we have rightly dealt with the past can we face tomorrow with confidence and triumph.


press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” He is saying that he keeps his eyes on the things ahead and where God’s blessings abide. Paul pushed forward to achieve the very reason God had apprehended him. Unfortunately, many of us can’t go forward because our past failures are holding us down. But that is a plot of the enemy in your life: To make you dwell on your failures and not move on. He wants to keep you in bondage to your past so you are useless for what God has for you in the present.

How we deal with our disappointments will determine whether they destroy us or make us stronger. It’s natural to examine ourselves and deal with areas of our lives. (2 Cor 13:5) But, it is totally wrong to be held in bondage to our past. We must bring our failures (1 John 1:9-10) and successes before the Lord and ask Him to forgive where it’s needed and be Lord over even the things we have achieved success in. (2 Cor 10:5-6)

Only when we have rightly dealt with the past can we face tomorrow with confidence and triumph. We must be about His business. But, you can’t go forward by looking in the rearview mirror.

 

Thoughts to Ponder:

1.)    Do you have times when you are bombarded by things in your past? Or maybe you have a friend that seems to be in bondage to some events in their past? Explain?

2.)    Paul was accustom to the Greek athletic races and therefore used them to bring out what point in Phil 3:12-14 that applied to a believers life? Explain how 2 Cor 10:5-6 can help those who seem to always allow the past failures or successes to hinder what God may have for their present lives.

3.)    What things would you say to anyone that was living their life in bondage to  their past? What does 1 John 1:9-10 exhort those that are followers of Jesus?

 

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It’s not Enough to just Start…You must Finish!

77930917The anticipation of the opening gunfire for the race to begin was gut wrenching to say the least. The runner gets himself all strategically situated in the starting blocks and tunes in on the starting judge in hopes of having a perfect start. Even with an exceptional start it is still how you finish that will grade your performance. There must be a start for sure, but just because you start a race doesn’t make you a winner… only if you finish can you possibly win and receive the reward.


It’s not enough to just start strong; we must finish strong like Paul. (Tweet)


Paul wrote at the end of his life to young Timothy giving every believer some incredible insights for us to live by. We read in 2 Tim 4:7-8, Paul says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day…”.   He was referring to his journey of life as a race and fight, as he also did in his letter to the Corinthians. He says “I fought the good fight” insinuating that it isn’t easy but will take endurance and tenacity. Then Paul says, “I have finished the race. He didn’t quit because it was difficult or to long, but completed the course set before him. In Cor. 9 he says that we need to run not as a casual jog through a park, but run the race to win. He lets us know that there is a reward for all of us that finish the race of life keeping our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In his tremendous book “Multiplication” Tommy Barnett gives a startling comparison of three young preachers. All of them were filling up auditoriums and having record crowds. Graham, Templeton, and Clifford launched out of the starting blocks like Olympic gold medalist in 1945.

Those that observed them thought the young man; Templeton would be the one who would make it to the top. Even a magazine wrote a feature article calling Templeton the “Babe Ruth of evangelism.” Clifford was a young fireball evangelist. Many thought that he was the most gifted and powerful preacher to come up in the church for many centuries. People lined up for hours to get into where he was preaching. Yet why haven’t we heard of Templeton and Clifford?

Well, in just five years, 1950 Templeton had left the ministry. He pursued a radio career. He became an announcer and a newscaster, telling the world that he no longer believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Can you believe this future “babe Ruth” of preaching was no longer even in the ball park. By 1954 Clifford had lost his family, ministry and health. Eventually he lost his life because of addiction to alcohol. Financial irresponsibility left his wife and their two Downs-syndrome children with no money. This once famous preacher didn’t even finish his race.

In the Christian life…it’s not how you start the race, but how you finish the race that matters. It’s not enough to just start strong; we must finish strong as Paul and the third young man did. His name, Billy Graham, has faithfully run his race keeping the faith for all these years! Even so, let me encourage you not to quit! But synch up your belt and commit to finish the race that God has set before you.