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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I Won’t be just Another Frog in a Pot

I still get a chill up my spine when I think about getting a shot with a needle. Remember as we grew up in school there would be those days every so often that we would get shots to immune us from different sickness? If I understand it right, when we received the shot we receive a small amount of the germ we didn’t want so that our bodies would make a defense against it, becoming immuned from the actual sickness.

Unfortunately, many believers have received just enough of the gospel to immune them from the reality of the truth. Growing up they casually attend church, hearing bits and pieces of messages but never becoming a real follower of Jesus. Then on top of our own shallow belief system we allow the media to dump their so-called opinions on to our already murky doctrine as if it is truth. There in has cultivated a society of people that say they believe in God, yet who have just enough of the message to make a mess. It has distorted the Gospel and immuned many individuals from living a victorious and godly life, which can only be obtained through understanding and believing of who Jesus is and has done.


Some people only hear enough of Religion to be Immune from the Gospel! tweet


Much of our society has fallen prey to the “Frog in the Pot” principle. In which says, if you throw a frog in a pot of boiling hot water to cook it will jump out because of the reaction of its muscles. But if you put the frog in a pot of water and slowly turn up the heat the frog will slowly cook without jumping out. Now whether that is the case or not, it most definitely makes a great illustration for the Christian. If we go through our lives with a nonchalant mentality letting the darkness of the age and half truths slowly creep in without resisting and “jumping out” so to speak, we will slowly be changed and “cooked” without realizing it.

In Peter’s second epistle he warns the believers about the onslaught of false teachings amongst the church. He describes in 2 Pet. 3:16-18, those who are doing the teaching as those who are “untaught and unstable people” twisting the scriptures to to fit their lives instead of the person being conformed to the scriptures. These distortions and twisting of God’s word will damage and sway those who are not grounded and diligent in the things of God. Therefore Peter strongly says, “beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked”. He explains not only to be on the defense from wrong teaching, but also to be on the offence growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”.


The Believer must stand for Truth or he’ll become a “Frog in a Pot”, being gradually deceived!   tweet


Paul also speaks on this same topic to the believers in Ephesus in Eph. 1:15-20, where he prays that their mind’s eye would be open to understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done for them. The bottom line is if we are not familiar with the reality of Christ and His work (the Gospel), then we are more acceptable to being swayed or deceived from the truth. Just like the frog in the pot, we will slowly be changed or destroyed by the gradual rising of deception.

It’s time that the Church teaches the whole Word of God and not just a lopsided message that will only immune many from the Gospel.

Continuing in an Attitude of Prayer

praying handsIn Acts 6:4 we read the words of the apostles, “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer…”. This phrase “give ourselves” implies a personal action and responsibility. It says that they “gave” not that it was given to them or that it came natural to them. They had to make the effort and take the time themselves to press into a life of continual prayer and studying the scripture. They were diligent to give themselves to the Lord. They found faithful men to serve and care for the physical needs of the people, so that they could spend more time alone with God.  These leaders understood that there were deeper levels and depths of knowing God that they must attain to do what they were called to do. Therefore, it was essential for each of them to press into God so that they could meet the spiritual needs of others better. They knew before they talked to man about God that they must first talk to God about man.

So often I hear people say, “if I had more time” or “if it was my job” I would spend more time seeking God in prayer and the studying of the Word. But the apostles were as busy as anyone else if not more and they didn’t use those excuses. Instead it says that they gave themselves to prayer and the word. They didn’t allow anything to distract or to keep them from pursuing more of God.

In Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians he exhorts the believers to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:17) This isn’t just for leaders, but for every Christian.   In Luke 18:2-8, Jesus shares a parable of the unjust judge and the persistent widow where He brings out the overlaying message, “That men always ought to pray and not lose heart,” (Luke 18:1). So many believers seldom pray or they fizzle out when they haven’t seen the results they are looking for quick enough. We have become a society that demands instant everything, instant food, instant banking and instant messaging. This same attitude has flowed right into the fabric of the church and our relationship with the Lord. God wants us not to lose heart in our pray life.


  We Must know before we talk to man about God that they must first talk to God about man.    (Click to Tweet)


Jesus and the Apostle Paul exhort us to pray. It’s about as optional as breathing is to your body. Paul stirs young Timothy in his letter, “I desire therefore that men pray everywhere,” (I Tim. 2:8) and then to the believers at Colossi he says, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2).

In James 4:17 we are warned, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” If we know that we are to pray in an attitude of continuous prayer and we aren’t doing it we are in sin. Samuel declared it was a sin for him to cease from praying, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you,” (I Sam. 12:23). Isaiah declared, “And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You…” (Isa. 64:7).

A Christian who does not have a disciplined prayer life is disobedient and powerless. The Lord grieves when His children are in such a state. He loves His children and wants to see them walk in victory. The Holy Spirit is always wooing His children to come in communion with Him not just occasionally but to walk in an attitude of continuous prayer.