January 6, 2021 Forgetting - Pastor Scott Thornton

"...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, [14] I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

The new year is upon us. 2020 was a year unlike any other year in the history of the world. In order to go forward into the new a person must get out of the past.

The Apostle Paul understood that one can not be constantly looking in the rear view mirror of life if they plan on traveling the straight and narrow highway of holiness. Paul wrote that everything in his past, the good and the bad, was worthless compared to knowing Christ, therefore he chose to constantly forget the past and to actively press on toward what was ahead - which was to be like Jesus and to live with Him for all of eternity.

The NIV text puts an "" after the words forget and strain. It is translated this way to help us understand that we need to continue to keep "forgetting" what is behind and to keep "straining" towards what is ahead. Note that Paul did not say, "I forgot what was behind and I strained toward what is ahead." No, he said - forgetting and straining.

We are not like God. God can forgive and remember our sins against us no more. Often people will say, "I forgive so and so, but I can't forget what they have done." Welcome to the human race. There are things in our past, good and especially the bad, that are often hard to forget. I imagine that the evil one whispered in Paul's mind more than once of Paul's role in the killing of Stephen. When the things in the past would come up in Paul's mind, he chose again and again to forget the past and to be straining toward the way he should go in the will of God.

The Apostle Paul understood that following Christ was also a continual act. Paul knew it was more than going down to an altar and getting saved and then entirely sanctified and then becoming petrified. To follow Jesus means to begin to follow His will for our lives and to continue to follow every day. Following is like straining. It isn't always going to be easy. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23 (NIV)

In this new year what do you need to forget and to keep forgetting when it comes back into your mind? You can not go forward if you are constantly looking backward.

In this new year what does God want you to keep straining toward? The good news is this - it is actually God who has called you heavenward and God has a prize for you. In 2021 "press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called" you "heavenward in Christ Jesus."

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