Locking The Door on Yesterday
David Langerfeld


Brothers, 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

Chapter 3 of Philippians contains the spiritual biography of Paul.
V. 1-11 = Paulís Past
V. 12-16 = Paulís Present
V. 17-21 = Paulís Future

Paul was using the illustration of a race to describe his life. He was in the homestretch but he was still running the race; the race wasn't over. Paul wasnít satisfied. The first thing we need to notice is that Paul was not satisfied with his performance. No runner worth his salt is ever satisfied with his performance. He always wants to go a little faster, a little longer or a little harder. Each runner wants to continually improve himself.

Paul was the same: "I have not apprehended it yet." - NOT YET

ONE THING
Right behind this conjunction is one of Paul's secrets to living: THIS ONE THING I DO! Throughout the Bible, it is made abundantly clear that single-minded concentration on the things of God is essential to running the race of Christianity. You cannot be dwelling on other things as an athlete and give your best performance. You can not be dwelling on other things as a Christian and give your best performance. Therefore, Paul says "this one thing I do."

WHAT IS THE ONE THING?
"Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth into those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Paul had learned that we have to lock the door on yesterday and remember it no more. Paul discovered that Looking Back almost always ends up in going back. Thatís worth repeating... "Looking back almost always ends up in going back."

     1. In the Old Testament we find the wandering Israelites ready to return to their old ways rather than pressing on.

     2. In the New Testament Jesus clearly taught us in Luke 9:62 that "no man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for Godís Kingdom."

There are Four Things We Need to Forget


I. YESTERDAY'S MISTAKES

Elliot Hubbard said that every man is a fool for at least five minutes of every day. Wisdom, he says, consists of not exceeding that limit.

In his book Chuck Swindoll has a chapter entitled, "The Fine Art of Blowing It" that begins like this, "It happens to every one of us. Teachers as well as students. cops as well as criminals. Bosses as well as secretaries. Parents as well as kids. The diligent as well as the lazy. Not even presidents are immune. Or corporation heads who earn six-figure salaries. The same is true of well-meaning architects and hard-working builders and clear-thinking engineers...not to mention pro ball players, politicians, and preachers. What? Making mistakes, that's what. Doing the wrong thing, usually with the best of motives. And it happens with remarkable regularity."

Dale Carnegie has a folder entitle FTD.   It stands for "Fool Things I Have Done." Whenever he did something foolish or stupid, he would dictate a record of it to his secretary. He confesses, however, that he was so embarrassed by his stupidity that he was ashamed to have her know it. So he would write it out in longhand and slip it into the file himself.

Everyone makes mistakes. Everybody does stupid, foolish things. God's Word says forget them - leave them behind you. There are 3 things we should do about yesterday's mistakes:

     1. Learn from them

     2. Determine with God's help not to do them again

     3. Forget them - Satan will want to remind you -- God says, "Forget them - I HAVE!"

II. Yesterday's Hurts

Life is a battleground. You are one of Godís soldiers. On any battleground, injuries will occur and someone is going to get hurt. Sooner or later, someone is going to hurt you, to lie about you, to harm you, to misrepresent you, to chop you up in little pieces or to slander you.

It will happen, so what do you do?

You have two choices:

     1. You can allow resentment and hate to build till it leads to revenge

     2. You can Forgive and Forget

            A. Forgive as Christ forgave you - just as He forgave Roman soldiers who didn't know what they were doing.

             B. Forget those things that are behind you (Phil. 3:13)

             In order to press on in the Christian life, we have to lock the door on yesterday's hurts.

III. Yesterday's Possibilities

How often do I see people unable to operate in today because they are still living a "what if" life. They keep talking about "what could have been" -- "if I had only."    If only I had more money...     If only I had a bigger house...    If only I had a better car...     If only I had gone to school...    If only I had found a better job...     If only...

Quite often they blame someone else -  if my wife hadn't...   if my parents hadn't...   if my business partner had...  if the war hadn't...   Even God - "if God would have... or if God wouldn't have..."

We can't live on yesterday's promises or yesterday's dreams. Too many people are dissatisfied with life because they've had an expectation that just hasn't worked out. Paul is saying forget your past hurts, forget your past mistakes and forget living with what might have been.

IV. Yesterday's Sins

Billy Graham once said that 80% of all the patients in mental hospitals could go home if they would accept the fact that they are not guilty or that they have been forgiven. Many people are carrying a burden of guilt:

A past mistake

A moral failure

A painful cut to a friend

A physical hurt to someone

A stupid, hateful remark

A poor decision

A sin so grievous that either God will not forgive them or they will not forgive themselves

*There is no sin, no matter how great or small, once it has been confessed and forgiven, that the memory of it should torment us no more.     Again--when sin, no matter how great or how grievous, has been confessed and forgiven, the memory of it should torment us no more!

Jeremiah 31:34 "I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more."

Psalm 103:12 "I will remove their sin as far as the east is from the west."

I John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

It's time to:

     Lock the Door on the Past!

     Throw Away the Key!

     Forget Where You Have Thrown It!

 Today, at the beginning of 2006, itís time to join with Paul in forgetting those things which are left behind and PRESS ON.