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People need hope more than ever. As followers of Jesus, we have this promise in Colossians 1:27.....Listen to Radio Podcast featured on Moody Radio April 17 2024 

Friday-Forget, Strain, Press

 

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, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

 

Philippians 3:13,14

 

No matter who we are or where we are, no matter what’s going on in our lives, we came from somewhere. We didn’t just drop out of the sky to where we are. We got here one day at a time. One experience at a time.

 

And some of that was great. Some of it was good. Some of it was OK. Some of it was fair. Some of it was bad. Some of it was downright awful. And some of that was so horrible that you don’t talk about it. If it were possible, you’d pay someone lots of money to have the memory erased forever.

 

I’d bet all the money in my pockets and then some that you’re thinking about your past. And while I know that there are many good things that have happened in your life, we both know that it’s easier to remember the bad things. Researchers have found that negative emotions, like fear and sadness activate increased activity in a part of the brain linked to memories. And for some reason, these emotionally charged negative memories are more intense and in greater detail than happy ones.

 

That’s why Paul doesn’t just want to forget. He wants something bigger. More powerful. Some would say impossible. He wants to completely forget. He doesn’t just want to get over it or move on. No. He wants a life that has no memories of it. Think about a runner in a race. They need to completely forget about their opponents. Or someone carrying a football puts his head down and goes forward with all their strength and speed. Thinking about or turning around, hearing the pounding footsteps behind will only slow them down.

 

Our forward progress and growth in the faith and life are held down and held back when we live in our past disasters. Sins. Heartaches. Discouragements. Disappointments. Failed hopes and plans.

 

In Jesus, Paul’s been made with God and he’s made things right with people. The result is that he’s completely forgotten the past. It no longer hangs over his head. It doesn’t keep him up at nights. And that’s what we have to also do. But there’s another step. Yes, we need to forget the past, but we don’t stop there. We don’t say that all our sins are forgiven and then sit back and chillout with God. There’s nothing passive about being forgiven. And there’s nothing passive about what we do with that forgiveness.

 

Paul says that he’s straining toward and pressing on. I can hear the groaning in those words. Can’t you. And why is there groaning? Because there is great concentration and effort. Groans come from deep within as all their might is used.

 

We hear tennis players groan with each swing of their racket. We hear weightlifters groan as they pull up the barbells. We hear the groans and shouts as the board breaks when hit by a powerful karate punch or kick.

 

The goal for the Apostle Paul, and for us, is to be like Jesus in all our words, thoughts, actions, and attitudes. Our life doesn’t just reflect Jesus like light in a mirror. Oh no. Jesus is to shine from within. He’s to be inside and brightly lighting up our life.

 

Is that how you approach your life with Christ? Is there a deep, passionate desire to become more and more like Jesus? Are you focusing your mind and will toward this goal? Are you using every ounce of effort to let Jesus change you? Shine in and through you?

 

I know what my answer is. And I think I know what your answer is too. Paul’s straining, using every ounce of concentration and power. We’re happy to just let it happen, if it happens. Paul’s paddling with all his might, shooting the rapids of life. We want to sit in an innertube and float along, being served free drinks while the water slowly pushes along.

 

Does this sound at all familiar? Does it paint a realistic picture of our spiritual lives? While I can’t speak for you, I am ashamed to admit that most of my life with Jesus has been more about receiving and not having the resolve to live for him.

 

In the movie, Chariots of Fire[1], there’s a scene where Eric Liddell’s in a race. As they come around the first turn, he’s cut off and pushed down to the ground. As he stops rolling on the grass, he has a choice. To stay down and lick his wounds certainly is an option. Another would be to pull out his phone and post a video where he bitterly complains about the guy who pushed him down. He could also blame God for his embarrassment and pain. After all, there’s no do-over in a race.

 

But what does Eric do? He follows Paul’s example and forgets what’s behind. He get’s up and starts running again. He gets back into the race. His determination and drive push him to eventually overtake the guy who pushed him down and win the race.

 

I know it’s only a movie. But this is exactly what God wants you to do. We’re not to stay down when life trips us up. We’re to get back in the race. We’re to use everything we are to become more and more like Jesus. We’re to forget, Strain, and press.

 

Noodling Questions

 

  • How easy/hard is it for you to forget? Explain with examples.

  • What’s the last spiritual area where you strained? Why go to all the effort?

  • How can we encourage one another to press on toward the goal?


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