Philippians 3:7-16Authorized (King James) Version
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 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, 9 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: 10 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 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, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Max Lucado tells a story about the late champion boxer Muhammad Ali taking someone to his barn where he stored his trophies and awards.
Standing in the doorway, he pointed to his many trophies and said, “It ain’t nothing.”
His body and his mind wracked by debilitating illnesses he had come to the conclusion when all is said and done, his accomplishments meant very little.
Centuries earlier, the apostle Paul looked back on the whole of his life and on all the things he had been successful at, all of his education he was proud of, and said, “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss. I consider them rubbish.”
Apostle Paul said this not necessarily because he had a debilitating disease like Muhammad Ali but because he had met the Lord Jesus who surpassed all of it.
He had come to the conclusion he was ready to let go of whatever was behind him so that he could serve the Lord, live only by the power of the risen Savior.
As we are about to enter into Thanksgiving, Advent an then Christmas and then the New Year, are we too ready to ultimately let go of all the things that might keep us from our experiencing the maximum power of Christ’s resurrection?
Are we ready to let go of all the things that at one time seemed all-important?
Are we ready, willing and genuinely able to finally an for all time, ask the Lord today for the grace to toss out everything that stands in the way of serving him?
Today, I would like to address “Holding on to our past,” our resentments our grudges, our regrets and our remorse’s, viewing an interpreting them each as something which can inhibit not only our personal relationships, our outlook on life, but also our sense of self-esteem, identity and spiritual growth in Jesus.
Philippians 3:10-14Amplified Bible
10 And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; 11 [a]so that I may attain to the resurrection [that will raise me] from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on [b]so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. 13 [c] Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Here, Paul is pointing out a significantly insightful truth … a significant fact,
“I have let go of the past, have strained myself towards my future in Christ.”
To obtain our future in Savior Christ – We must NOW leave the past in the past.
Yes, we must learn from it but press on … straining forward to what lies ahead.
Press on toward the ultimate goal which decisively, definitely lies ahead.
You and I cannot relate to the present … or look forward to relating to any part of our future if you and I are still choosing to remain stuck, reacting to the past.
Sadly … We bring the burden of so many, truthfully, far too many, unresolved, nonsensical, trivial, long forgotten problems into … our present relationships.
We are prone to carry, burden ourselves … emotional garbage around with us.
We rehash … We rewash – re-launder our age old grudges and resentments.
We mull over, we obsess over this stuff like a bad movie, the bitterness we hold.
We project our angers, resentments, grudges toward the those that have hurt us – we hammer them – as iron sharpens iron – so resentments sharpens grudges.
Those things we have feel guilty about, and the “if only” regrets.
It is as if we cannot get them out of our mind. “Only if”?
We rehearse our resentments, and we replay our regrets.
And many of us are weighed down by indescribable weight of all those wasted times and seasons and opportunities to receive grace upon grace upon grace.
And when we feel down … when we feel depressed?
When you carry the emotional garbage of rehashing resentments, remembering regrets, and reinforcing remorse?
Well … it tends to cause you to react to life rather than enjoying life.
Yet Paul shares with us a solution hear God’s word.
BIBLE “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind (Forgetting what lies where … in the past) and straining forward to what lies ahead. END
Beloved … Jesus is clear BIBLE “‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'” END (Luke 9:62)
Until you and I choose to intentionally stop looking backward you and I are not fit for kingdom service on this side of eternity.
If you and I are looking back … if you and I are holding on to “If Only’s …” well, then, you and I are not making a very stout effort towards walking in God’s will.
Truth is … No one is immune – we each definitely get stuck there sometimes.
So … how do we approach such an “impossible” idea -stop – let go of the past?
Well first you must let go of your bitterness of your grudges.
Paul shares this truth to the believers gathered in Ephesus.
Ephesians 4:30-32Amplified Bible
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [but seek to please Him], by whom you were sealed and marked [branded as God’s own] for the day of redemption [the final deliverance from the consequences of sin]. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor [perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding] and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice [all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence]. 32 Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave [a]you.
Get rid of all bitterness.
Get rid of all rage.
Get rid of all anger.
Throw it away!
Beloved do not hold on to resentment.
If you do, it will ruin your relationships.
There are few things in life that can cause more danger to a relationship then bearing grudges and resentment beyond their useful shelf-life (one second).
Beloved bearing grudges and resentments does not resolve anything.
Remember when you are bearing grudges, being resentful, it probably does not upset the other person over much, it only … it only upsets you.
You remain the one who hurting.
Resentment never affects or hurts the other person it only affects you.
Hear God’s word from Job: BIBLE “to worry yourself to death with resentment would be foolish, senseless to do …… you are only you’re hurting yourself with your anger.” (Job 5:2 and Job 18:4)
Yes … we can backpack our grudges around over our shoulders, be resentful towards people who have hurt us … but they will never … change the past.
Resentment is a clear waste of time … or as the scriptures state … it is foolish … because it never resolves the problem …… it only makes it infinitely worse.
And the truth be told … Our resentment …. makes us a slave … to the one …. we resent.
When you say to somebody, … “You are making me so mad” … you are in essence … admitting to a weakness.
You are making me mad.
That means … we are admitting that we cannot control our own emotions.
You are admitting that others control you …. Others have the power to make you happy or mad.
Beloved, know this truth nobody … no one can make you mad without your permission. REPEAT
Some of us may have been hurt in the past.
But that past does not have to keep on hurting us in the present.
Lay that resentment at the Cross and allow God’s grace and power, to move within you.
Allow the Holy Spirit to transform you.
Psalm 51 Amplified Bible
A Contrite Sinner’s Prayer for Pardon.
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David; when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had sinned with Bathsheba.
51 Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness and guilt
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them;
My sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned
And done that which is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak [Your sentence]
And faultless in Your judgment.
I was brought forth in [a state of] wickedness;
In sin my mother conceived me [and from my beginning I, too, was sinful].
Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part [of my heart] You will make me know wisdom.
Purify me with [a]hyssop, and I will be clean;
Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness and be satisfied;
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right and steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted and return to You.
Rescue me from blood guiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation;
Then my tongue will sing joyfully of Your righteousness and Your justice.
O Lord, open my lips,
That my mouth may declare Your praise.
For You do not delight in sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
My [only] sacrifice [acceptable] to God is a broken spirit;
A broken and contrite heart [broken with sorrow for sin, thoroughly penitent], such, O God, You will not despise.
By Your favor do good to Zion;
May You rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then will You delight in the sacrifices of righteousness,
In burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then young bulls will be offered on Your altar.
We must learn to yield the past to God through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Are you and I holding resentments … grudges against someone from the past?
A brother a sister? A father or a mother? A spouse, a coworker?
I have found many adults are still fighting their parents unconsciously.
They feel they were unloved, ignored, verbally abused, physically abused, intimidated … manipulated.
Many have buried that hurt deep and have never addressed it.
And if they have buried it … in essence they are still holding on to it.
We need to dig it up and let go; we need to lay this at the foot of the cross.
Beloved we will not be able to fully relate to our present relationships if have allowed bitterness to take root … if we are still holding on … to the past.
The anonymous writer of Hebrews puts it this way:
Hebrews 12:14-17Amplified Bible
14 Continually pursue peace with everyone, and the sanctification without which no one will [ever] see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of God’s grace; that no root of resentment [bitterness] springs up and causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16 and [see to it] that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that later on, when he wanted [to regain title to] his inheritance of the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no opportunity for repentance [there was no way to repair what he had done, no chance to recall the choice he had made], even though he sought for it with [bitter] tears.
Make NO Mistake about this: every last ounce of that bitterness, that Bitterroot if it takes a secure hold of our hearts and of our souls, will absolutely, definitely, decisively, directly, maximally impact all our every single current relationships.
Some of us may have allowed bitterness, anger, hurt to pile up from the past.
And instead of taking it out on that person … you take it out on your husband … or on your wife … or on your children, your friends, your neighbors, churches.
Beloved that is wrong … and that’s worse than wrong … is not definitely fair.
So … let go and let God move and have his way in your life.
Trust that he loves you.
It’s time to move on … to strive forward … in your new life in Christ.
It’s time to forgive and to lay this bitterness at the foot of the cross.
Remember the prayer that we are taught to pray on each Sunday?
Father forgive us … forgive me my trespasses … only … only as I forgive others.
We must also be willing to give up our gloom.
Gloom a word not used very often anymore.
Gloom a combination of Sorrow, grief, sadness, heartbreak, and worry.
Everyone experiences some type of gloom in their life.
Many of you have experienced major losses, some in the past several years.
And loss, … gloom, … hurts.
And mourning … grieving is a natural part of life.
There is nothing wrong with mourning.
In fact, the scriptures are clear,
Ecclesiastes 3:1-14Amplified Bible
A Time for Everything
3 There is a season (a time appointed) for everything and a time for every delight and event or purpose under heaven—
A time to be born and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw away stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to [a]tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to keep silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
9 What profit is there for the worker from that in which he labors? 10 I have seen the task which God has given to the sons of men with which to occupy themselves.
God Set Eternity in the Heart of Man
11 He has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time. He has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart [a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God]—yet man cannot find out (comprehend, grasp) what God has done (His overall plan) from the beginning to the end.
12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good as long as they live; 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and see and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God. 14 I know that whatever God does, it endures forever; nothing can be added to it nor can anything be taken from it, for God does it so that men will fear and worship Him [with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is God].
In fact, Jesus says “blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
It is alright … it is OK to grieve and to weep.
We know that Jesus Wept at the Tomb of Lazarus. (John 11:35)
Yet there is a significant difference between mourning and moaning.
Moaning is self-pity … “poor me”.
When we moan, we empower gloom … we allow gloom to rule the outlook… of our life.
Beloved … pain is a part of life.
Everyone experiences pain.
Everyone hurts and has heart aches.
Yet, … hear me on this … do not allow your pain to make you … it’s prisoner.
So (1 finger) let go of your grudges (2 fingers) And let go of your gloom.
If you don’t, … they will strangle you.
Yet … how do we let go of gloom… when it is strangling us?
Well, … except … what cannot be changed.
Many of you may be experiencing pain … from events … that happened … many years ago.
The key to Peace of Mind can be found in one word… and that word is … acceptance.
Acceptance of God’s will.
Allowing God’s way … in your life.
God is on his throne … and he is working … all things together for your good.
All Things … The Good … the bad … and the ugly.
Let go of your grief and give it to Jesus.
And if you do, it will release you … from the clutches of its pain.
Play it down … and pray it up.
Spend more time praying then complaining.
Or as a seasoned Christian friend would always say … “Go to the throne … before you go to the phone.”
Beloved … focus on what is left … not on what is lost.
You might be saying … you do not understand how much I have lost … and how little is left?
And you are right … I will never fully understand.
But this I know … little is much … in the hands of almighty God.
For he takes all things … the good … the bad … and the ugly … and works them for good… for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:28)
Beloved … self-pity … is more damaging to you. more dangerous … and to your life and my life and the life of the church … than any tragedy we will ever face.
Why? Because … self-pity perpetuates pain, and ultra magnifies resentments.
Let go of your grudges.
Give up your gloom. And lastly give up your guilt.
Some people refuse to accept forgiveness from God.
They hang on to their guilt.
In fact, … many … hold on tightly to it … like an iron clad security blanket.
In a way … they have locked themselves in a prison … and thrown away the key.
And allowed the guilt … of what they have or have not done, to play … over and over and over … to rent space at no cost nor given consequence in their mind.
Beloved … That is not the message of the Gospel.
We have a forgiving gracious God, … a God of second chances.
But you need to lay your guilt down.
Yet how do you let go of guilt?
Well there are two approaches one is right and the other is wrong.
2 Corinthians 7:8-10Amplified Bible
8 For even though I did grieve you with my [a]letter, I do not regret it [now]; though I did regret it —for I see that the letter hurt you, though only for a little while— 9 yet I am glad now, not because you were hurt and made sorry, but because your sorrow led to repentance [and you turned back to God]; for you felt a grief such as God meant you to feel, so that you might not suffer loss in anything on our account. 10 For [godly] sorrow that is in accord with the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but worldly sorrow [the hopeless sorrow of those who do not believe] produces death.
These two approaches to guilt and both illustrated in the lives of two of Jesus disciples, Peter, and Judas.
Both Peter and Judas, on the night before Jesus was taken into custody, denied and publicly Jesus.
They both sinned.
Yet as we know … they both responded very differently to this guilt.
One response was right, and one response was wrong.
The way Judas responded was self-condemnation.
Here God’s word: BIBLE “when Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse. Then he went out and hanged himself.” END (Matthew 27:3-5)
Judas took his life in his despair.
He allowed his despair … his sin … to overwhelm him.
He felt that life was no longer worth living … so we went out … and took his own life.
Peter, … on the other hand, … his response … was not condemnation but confession.
Again, hear God’s word BIBLE “then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken and he went outside and wept bitterly.” END (Matthew 26:75)
Peter also experienced remorse but he wept bitterly and obviously … confessed his sin and sought forgiveness.
How do we know he did that, … because not many days later God … used him in a mighty way.
You can almost hear him say Jesus I failed, I let you down Forgive me.
Have you ever said that?
Jesus I have let you down, I have been unfaithful, I have not followed your ways?
Beloved we have a forgiving God.
We have a God who forgives.
And that can be seen in the life of Peter.
For on the day of Pentecost Peter spoke and 3000 people were saved.
We must come to the throne and confess our sins and we most come to the throne for forgiveness.
Hear again God’s Word: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Thank you, Lord, for this glorious promise.
Thank you, Lord, for this ancient and glorious promise of a future beyond all;
Isaiah 2:1-4English Standard Version
The Mountain of the Lord
2 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2 It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the Lord
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it,
3 and many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,[a]
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.
And the House of the Lord will be established above all houses.
On the highest of His mountains and not upon our wee little ant hills.
and many peoples shall come, and say:
Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that HE may TEACH us HIS ways and that we may WALK in ONLY HIS PATHS.”
HE shall judge between the nations (and the churches and the denominations).
HE shall decide the DISPUTES.
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nations will not lift up swords against nations, or resentful angry words be lifted up and raised high against and between churches and denominations.
Neither shall they learn war ANYMORE!
How much emotional garbage are you and I still carrying against each other?
Lay that worldly garbage down at the cross.
Give them all to Jesus.
Let go of the past and embrace God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit so His joy can permeate the present and all things can become new.
Beloved you and I are a new creation In Christ Jesus.
As beloved Children of God,
You and I are sanctified and continually being sanctified.
Lay your burdens at the foot of the cross and look into your Saviors’ eyes.
He loves you and wants your entire life to be filled to the brim with His joy.
Sing, Sing and Sing some more.
Give them all … give them all
give them all to Jesus
and he will turn your sorrows,
he will turn your sorrows,
Yes, He will turn your sorrows, into joy.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
O God, my Strength, I put my trust in You. You have never forsaken those who seek You. You have never let me down. I know that You never will let me down because my life so far has been a living testimony of Your greatness and not to my many resentments and my multitude of grudges. Mold me into Your image, and hold me close to You. Reveal to me thy grace, how to mature as a Christian and daily improve on my walk of faith. Steady my trust in You so that it never wavers, no matter what battles I face on this earth. I declare that my faithfulness to You will be strong at all times and in all places and during even the very worst of circumstances. Amen.