Tuesday, January 7, 2014

. . . Gazing ahead

12 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. 13 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.....
(Philippians 3:12-13)

Yesterday we looked at some thoughts about what lies behind -- today we will look at what is "ahead."

What lies ahead in 2014 for us? A slimmer, svelte figure? An energized, vibrant prayer ministry? An enthusiastic witness for God? 

James 4:13-15
 “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
James speaks of people who make their business plans but fail to plan for the important things. Things like living for His glory, and then being with Him after this life.

When we are young, making a living, raising children, we don’t always think about living for God's glory, or our eventual death and make plans for it. But all of this life is a preparation. And how do we prepare? There is only one sure way and that is, to seek the Lord. Read His Word. Pray. Serve Him by serving others. Accept Him. Accept His grace. Accept His gracious gift of salvation. Believe. Obey. Surrender. 

There is only one way to plan ahead in life. We must seek the Lord Jesus in all things and seek to know Him personally. That is "straining toward what is ahead."

I titled this post "gazing" ahead, because I wanted to make a distinction . . . just a glance back, but a long look forward. Placing our priorities on what we can actually change!

Jesus told us in Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness….” It doesn't make sense for us
to make plans and arrange our lives around something uncertain and fleeting.

Yet, that’s exactly the way that most of us operate. God gives us these very brief life-spans and rather than focus on the things that really matter, we waste our time, thoughts and talents on the unimportant. God tells us to reach for the eternal (His kingdom) but we settle for the temporary. 

Paul said it this way, "This one thing I do." Whoa.
It's obvious that Paul did more than one thing: he made tents and preached sermons. He established churches, healed the sick and wrote lots and lots of letters! He did a lot of different things.

Maybe what he really meant was this:"The top priority in my life is to ‘press on toward the goal to win the prize for
which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’ “

Have you ever been in a seminar or assembly and the speaker has pulled out a large, wide-mouthed Mason jar and illustrated a point? 

First thing to go in will be some large rocks; some of them are so large that they barely make it into the jar, but more go in until no more can be placed in it.
The speaker may ask the audience if the jar is full, and some unsuspecting watchers may say, "Yes." But then he will pull out a bucket of gravel, and begin to gently shake the jar, as the pieces go down into the spaces. "Now is it full?"  Those who are thinking ahead will say, "No, not yet." And they are right -- for now the speaker will pull out a container of sand, and let that pour into the tiny spaces between the gravel. He is still not finished, though, for he can produce a pitcher of water and pour some of that in, until finally the jar is completely filled.

OK, now what is the point?
Well, the point is, that if you don't start with the big things, and put them in first, they won't go in at all . . .

What are the big rocks in your life? - They should include these: Each day drawing nearer to God, spending time with Him in prayer, and seeking His guidance for your life through reading His Word. Remember to put those big rocks in first.

Let's remember to keep our priorities straight. Let's not waste our time looking behind us. Let's not squander our precious time here on earth, on the unimportant things. Let's look ahead and reach for His kingdom . . . after all, He promised that if we did, all the "other things" would be added unto us!


Cathy said...

I find that it is so easy to get distracted by all the little things. So easy to begin doing one thing, and then start another and then another, and pretty soon the day is gone, filled with all the little things, and no time or thought given to the big. Always thinking, "I will when I get this done', but then getting distracted yet again.

Carrie P. said...

preach it sister! good message for today.

Belinda said...

I can agree with what Cathy said. We are all distracted and it's something the devil has been using in his arsenal.

I may have said this before, but I once heard someone say that we are notorious for making our plans and then asking God to bless them. I know I'm guilty. I decide what I want to do, make the plans in my head, and then as an after thought, ask God if it's His will. Hmmm, a little backwards wouldn't you say?

Last year at this time, I didn't plan to make any changes in my life. I think resolutions are a waste of time, but this year, (it started before Jan 1) I decided to "do the right things" as much as possible. More focus on my Bible study, more focus on family and friends and spending quality time with them, less focus on my selfish plans. I also decided to say "no" more to outside influences. If God is willing, I will be able to stick to it. Did I ask Him before I made these decisions? Ahem, nooo, but I doubt they displease Him. ;)