Going Forward in a Backward World
(Philippians 3:13 &14KJV) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
also want us to read this same passage in the New American Standard Version. Simply to help us maybe better understand that still small voice which is screaming in our ears.
(Philippians 3:13&14 NASB) Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
One of the main differences you can notice right off the bat is the word yet. The Greek word translated yet is oupw. (Don't ask me how to pronounce it.) It is not found in the Strongs concordance but is found in older manuscripts. It might not be all that important but if we allow ourselves to think about it, what Paul is pressing to lay hold of, or apprehend if you will, may just be the most important thing in our lives. What we all need is direction and purpose. Without it we are spinning aimlessly through the annuls of time and space.
Do you remember Lost In Space? You know where the Robinson family and that whacked out doctor and his robot travel from planet to planet trying to somehow find their way back home? What they would have given for a map. Then there was Star Trek Voyager. Now they knew where they were going and how to get there but it was just going to take such a long time to get home that they were afraid that either they wouldn't make it or if they did they would all be so old no one would remember them.
So here is our dilemma. First of all do we even know where we are headed? Secondly, if we do, is there any real hope that we can get there given the struggles we know that are ahead of us? Not to mention how mediocre at best our track record has been in the past. And then thirdly what difference will any of this make to me as I enter into this upcoming week, or even just for today? Is there any real way to know that we are going forward in such an upside down, inside out, topsy turvy world?
OK, let's start with the Lost In Space problem. Too often we fly through life by the seat of our pants, on a wing and a prayer. And even then the prayer ends up being some lame now I lay me down to sleep repeat. We need to get to the heart of this thing called life and at least feel as if we have some semblance of control. Oh the pain, OH the pain. Sometimes we are a little overly dramatic about our situation.
Did you ever stop to think how fast the world is spinning on its axis? Or how fast the Earth is traveling around the Sun? Not to mention how fast the whole solar system is souring through space in an ever continually expanding universe. Well, just in case you cared, the Earth spins at almost 1000 miles per hour at the equator and travels through space at 67,000 miles per hour. Just think, we are whizzing through space that fast and a butterfly can still gently come to rest on a flower. If God can handle that, maybe we can have a little more confidence in leading us in the right direction.
The fact is He did give us a map and we really are not lost in space. It is more like we are on a journey of exploration. But that comes later in our Star Trek examination. First let's have a look at that map. In this letter that Paul wrote to the Philippians he talks to us about how we can get a little lost in our journey called life and start counting things that really don't mean anything as if they are the most valuable things in the world. Paul told about his heritage and his upbringing and his education and his prestigious standing in the eyes of men. Then he discovered the truth, as many of us already have, and that is that that stuff is all but nothing. Paul calls it dung.
(Philippians 3:7 -11KJV) But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
You see, as Paul was on the road to Damascus his eyes were blinded because he finally saw the light. Sometimes we just need to turn the light on our life to discover where we are headed. Are you using the right map to get to your desired end? Do you know where your desired end even is? Look ahead and see the fork in the road coming up and choose now which way you will go. It is always better to know that you have a turn coming up and which way to go when that turn comes up then to have it come upon you unexpectedly and have to take a flip of the coin guess as to which way your life will go.
Paul was looking ahead and was going for that prize of the resurrection. He knew that nothing else really mattered, or rather that everything he did mattered, because it would all either lead him to that prize or away from it. But look at where he finds the way. Not through his upbringing or his education or his good works but through knowing Jesus Christ, He called everything else dung, that he may win Christ. That he may win Christ. That we may win Christ. So, know this, You are not lost in space without a map. You have direction and purpose and it can all be found in Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life. He is our map, our road and our transportation.
Knowing that we should be able to enjoy this voyage of exploration a little more. After all God designed life to be enjoyed. Maybe we are just too afraid of the Borg to sit back and enjoy the ride. If you remember your Star Trek at all it was the Borg that conquered worlds and assimilated every species into there collective. Funny, how it is that same conformity that we struggle against in our trek through this valley of death. That is why it is so important to know the prime directive and be not not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
And there it is if you can see it. Paul urges us to press forward, press on. reach forward. Go forward. Don't be pushed back. Don't let the enemy take any more ground. Do not let the enemy stand in your way of getting home. And know, know. that you have the skill, knowledge and power to overcome even the strongest of attacks. But how can we, little old us, who have such lousy track, record even think we can stand up against so many forces of darkness. OH, how easy it might seem to just give up. DON'T GET CAUGHT IN THAT LIE! Giving up is the worst thing you could do. Giving up does not bring rest it brings distress.
All we have to do is open our eyes and see the path of destruction that so many who have given up before us have left. Look at all the shattered lives. Look at all the lost fortunes. Look at all the broken families. Look at all the broken hearts. Too often we do not have to look far for the pain. But Paul give us the hope and the encouragement and the example we need to keep on keeping on. He allows us to take it one step at a time, even if that first step is to stop going backwards.
(Philippians 3:16 NIV) Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Then once we can stand up to our own standards use him as the example. He tells us if it comes down to it use him as an example. look at the difference he has made in this world. One day he was hell bent (can I say that?) (Too late!) on the destruction of the name of Christ the next he becomes the man that God uses to take His name to the entire world.
(Philippians 3:18 -4:1 NIV) For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
Now we are no longer lost in space and the voyage of our star trek is secure, were do we go from here? What do we take with us today that will make a difference for our tomorrow? Well, lets first look at where we have come. We now know that although we may have been lost we are now found. We may have strayed of the good path but the good shepherd is leading us through this valley of of death. We may have been discouraged and pressed down but we are not out for the count and as the Spirit of the LORD rises within us we can become more than conquerors.
I want to borrow from one of my old messages which I just read in order to get a different perspective on what the Spirit of the LORD is telling us today. The message was entitled Two Steps Forward One Step Back. The scripture verse for it was found in the book of Exodus where the Israelites were up against the Red Sea with the Egyptians closing in on them. Moses told them to stand still and wait upon the LORD and the LORD told them to go forward. Then again as they passed into the promise land they first had to take that step of faith and go forward into the Jordan river and then stand and wait before they saw God making a way where there was no way.
Standing and going forward go hand in hand. you can not go forward until you take a stand and once you do go forward you will need to stand up for what you believe in. And the promise land is right there on the other side of your pain. Today just might be the day that God turns your pain of the past into the breakthrough to your future. Don't wait another day. You never know the hour when your soul will be required of you. Let us take those two steps forward today and stand together, lifting up on high the name of Jesus. Are you ready to turn away from the things that have been holding you back and press on to the prize of your high calling. If you are then the resurrection power of God is even right now beginning to move upon you and with in you. As you lay down the chains which bind you God will fill you even fuller with His powerful presence.
Are you ready to go forward in a backward world? God is waiting for your next move!