1/3/16 (MS)/1/6/16 (HS)
Our past determines our present, and our present is what shapes our future.
“I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” – Philippians 3:13-14
1. Develop holy discontentment
2. Intentionally forget the past
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.” – Psalm 77:11
Only look back for the sake of pressing forward.
3. Run hard toward Christ ahead
“All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” – 1 Corinthians 9:25–27
If you want to see this in practice, let me tell you about one of the greats… Jonathan Edwards, a Puritan preacher who followed Paul’s example… “He carefully observed the effects of different sorts of good, and selected those which best suited his constitution, and rendered him most fit for mental labor . . . In this respect he lived by rule, and constantly practiced great self-denial; as he did also with regard to the time passed in sleep. He accustomed himself to arise at four or between four and five in the morning: and in winter spent several of those hours in study which are commonly wasted in slumber. In the evening he usually allowed himself a season of relaxation in the midst of his family.”
“If I, a poor man… (He had sold everything he had, given it away). If I, a poor man, simply by prayer and faith obtain, without asking any individual, the means for establishing and caring on an orphan house, there would be something which, with the Lord’s blessing, might be instrumental in strengthening the faith of the children of God, besides being a testimony to the consciences of the unconverted of the reality of the things of God. [Pay attention close.] This then was the primary reason for establishing the orphan house. The first and primary object of the work was that God would be magnified by the fact that the orphans under my care are provided with all they need only by prayer and faith, without anyone being asked by me or my fellow laborers, whereby, it may be seen that God is faithful still and He hears prayers still.” – George Mueller
1) What was the best thing that happened to you in 2015? Why? What would you want to go back and do over?
2) Why is looking to the past important, but how do we keep from getting stuck in it?
3) How does Paul’s language of “striving, or fighting like an athlete” help you think about your life and future spiritually?
4) What is one thing you would want to do more intentionally or differently this new year?
5) What are some new practices you’d like to start this year to help you grow in your faith?