Go Forward - The Best Is Still Ahead
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Philippians 3:12-14
Sunday 18th December 2016
As we approach the end of the year, I reminded you last Sunday that the best is definitely still ahead of you. In the same vein, I would like to challenge you today to with this simple charge. GO FORWARD! This two-part series ‘The Best Is Still Ahead’ draws to a close with this message.
In our foundation Scripture which is Philippians 3:12-13, Paul says: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 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…” It is important for us to study some of what Paul wrote because it will determine the way we approach the New Year.
Apostle Paul was a man with goals and with a vision, yet he ended up in prison. But even though he was in prison, he wrote to the Church in Philippi and encouraged them. Although Paul had accomplished a lot in his ministry at this time, he was aware that he had not completed the vision God had placed in his heart. He noted this twice, in verse 12 and in verse 13. He was vulnerable and honest with himself and with others. He refused to act fake, pretending to others that all was alright when it wasn’t. It’s quite odd that in the 21st century, we tend to fake things and act like all is well. Sadly, we in the Church also behave like this; putting on a perfect front. Paul refused to live like that, and we should follow this example of honesty. Unless we admit to where we are, we will never seek help for where we are going. Note this: it's ok to not be ok...! It’s ok to be honest about the way you feel. Note that God calls things that be not as though they are- this is faith; God does not call things that be as though they are not - this is dishonesty.
When you program a GPS, in order to use it successfully, you need to give it access to your location. Similarly, admitting your challenges is not weakness; rather it helps to evaluate yourself and to determine where you are on the way to where you're going. Energy and desire to press on come from that place of honesty.
In verse 13b of our passage, Paul notes that though he had not yet achieved all he was called to achieve, he was choosing to focus on one thing only. This connotes that the first thing we need to do in order to make significant impact in the New Year is to FOCUS. We cannot live randomly. God designed us to live focused lives, not lives of random selection. John 16:13 shows that the Holy Spirit is with us to guide us, and we can depend on Him. We cannot live by trial and error experiments, nor should we depend on other people’s visions; because if you follow somebody that is not going your way, you will end up where they're going instead of where you’re meant to go. Paul then defined his focus; it was to forget the past and press on to the future. How far can a man travel when he's held back by his past? We all have pasts, but in order to enter any edifice, you have to come out of the edifice/vehicle you're already in. A person can be physically in the New Year, and mentally in the past, and this is a dangerous way to live, because you cannot go forward while holding on to the past.
Here are four things that represent your past that you need to leave behind:
• The pleasure of sin: Don't look back at your past sins, don’t hold on to guilt, and don't allow sinful pleasures to dominate you. Romans 6:14 shows us that Grace is available for us to move on.
• The thoughts of missed opportunities: You must not condemn yourself, because God is a God of multiple chances. When you focus on missed opportunities, you become oblivious to opportunities in front of you. The Bible says God's mercies are new EVERY morning. God is not just the God of a second chance; He is the God of several other chances!!!
• The glories of the past: Don't esteem your past above your future. Never conclude that your past is greater. God is a progressive God- taking you from one level of glory to another. God always adds on, and with Him things always get progressively better!
• Past pains and disappointments: Don't allow the pains of your past to deprive you of the joy of your future. Note that yesterday ended last night...!
How then do we go forward? I will share with you 2 Ways NOT to look at the future: Firstly, don't look at your future as an extension of your current situation. You must not make the erroneous conclusion that your painful situation will last forever.
Here are 5 ways to look forward to the future and to GO FORWARD:
1. Look forward to an intimate and vibrant relationship with God: Expect great things in your relationship with God. Expect to know Him deeper and closer. Paul prayed saying "that I may know Him..." (Philippians 3:10)
2. Look forward to knowing and fulfilling the purpose for which God made you: Be mindful and excited about your purpose. Jesus said His "food" was to do the will of God and to finish His work (John 4:34).
3. Look forward to God's grace, and to the promises of God being fulfilled: Look forward to your breakthrough, health, peace and progress.... Hold on and believe God; there is hope in your future! The Bible is full of God's promises and you can look forward to them (Romans 12:13).
4. Look forward to new opportunities: If you’re expectant, you will not miss your opportunity. In Judges 14:14 Samson had noticed that inside the carcass of a lion was a honeycomb – this speaks of opportunity! Inside your pain is your blessing!!! The thing that was sent to crush you is bearing your blessings. May the Lord open your eyes, because it takes open eyes to see opportunity. Revelation 3:8 reads that God has set before us an open door and nobody can shut it! If God sets before us an open door, we have the responsibility to walk through it. In the same way, God has set before us open doors in 2017! Even if a door looks closed, at least touch the door! It is already opened to you, so go ahead.
5. Look forward with hope and expectation: Say with me: “God is my hope; therefore, I will not be disappointed!” If you had rough patches in 2016, realise that God is your hope and remain confident in Him (Jeremiah 17:7). Jeremiah 31: 17 says that there is definitely hope for you.
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