Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12‭-‬14 NKJV

There a couple different ways that we can understand this passage. (I'm sure there's more, but I'm going to focus on two.) Some of us have a past that we don't like. It could be experiences; things we did or were done to us. It could be who we were back then, not serving Christ and doing a good job of it.

There could also be others of us who look back and consider ourselves to be pretty good people. Raised in church, saved at 3 years old, etc. This is the boat Paul, as Saul, was in. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews. That means he didn't "defile himself with any of the ways of the Gentiles who had take over his people."

He knew the pentateuch inside and out, and was a descendant of the first king of Israel. That's like saying someone was born on the steps of the White House to two American parents waving an American flag while an eagle flew overhead reciting the pledge of allegiance. Can't get much more 'Merican than that.

After Paul's experience with Jesus on the side of the road (Acts 9:1-22), all of the sudden all of that meant nothing. Not all of it was necessarily bad, but it definitely wasn't the way to be accepted into the Kingdom of God. Then there was the stuff he did that was just plain awful that he can never take back. He could have dwelt on who he was, hoping to minimize the bad and work to maximize the good, but he recognized that he didn't need to. His justification (and ours) comes solely through our faith that Christ died for us and redeemed us. What did Paul do after this realization? He decided to leave the past, good and bad, in the past and move forward. Making his new goal to be Christ-like. His prize, the call of God on his life to further the Kingdom for generations to come. The law helped him know of God. His experience and subsequent relationship with Jesus helped him know God. His salvation? Through the blood of Christ and nothing more.

I think of this verse when I'm driving. I have a horrible habit of looking in the rear view mirror for extended periods of time. It feels like Holy Spirit speaks to me and says "focus on the road ahead." The rear view mirror is an excellent tool, but should never be the only place I look. I could get in an accident if I am too focused on what's behind, rather than what's ahead. If you have accepted Christ as your savior, that past is behind you. It's okay to let go and forgive yourself. Look to Jesus and press on to what's next.

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Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:20‭-‬21 NKJV

Sometimes dreams or even everyday life seems an impossible task. Sharing the gospel with people around us? That can be daunting as well. Luckily, we have a God that doesn't just give us an assignment and leave us hanging, He gives us what we need to accomplish His plans. Before the foundations of the earth, He knew how to make you to accomplish what He wants you to do here. I've been taught that ministry flows from being. That means by allowing Holy Spirit to guide you and just being who God made you, you will accomplish His will. It's so simple! What is His will? Like Pastor Mark said in his message on Sunday, His will is any task or commandment written in His word.

If you look at the first verse, we see what kind of God He is. He has the power to give life; as our Shepherd, He leads and protects us; and He made a promise to save us and never leave us, sealing it Himself through His sacrifice. That is the God we follow and serve; and He gives us what we need to do so.

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Never stop praying.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.

2 Chronicles 7:14‭-‬15 NLT

In a world that is falling apart, what can we do to help? People hate each other, life isn't sacred anymore, politics seems to be increasingly corrupt, and the economy hangs in the balance of it all. First, remember that we don't fight against what we can see, we fight against the invisible forces of darkness that are causing the chaos (Ephesians 6:12.) How do Christians fight? Prayer. Prayer is not a religious duty or a way to make us feel more spiritual. It is our way to work with God to accomplish His will on the earth. How cool is it to be God's partner? God has a plan and when we connect with Him, He can implement and reveal His plan to and through us. He doesn't have to use us, but He chooses to. There is a time to make a more tangible stand, but even that should start with prayer. Jesus knew God's plan while he was ministering on the earth because he regularly took the time to talk with God.

Prayer moves mountains. James 5:16 says that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Our prayer doesn't depend on who we are, but who God is. If you don't feel like you have enough faith or can't pray eloquently enough, remember that it is only your job to pray. It's all up to God after that. Prayer doesn't have to be fancy either. Just talk to God like you would a friend. After all, He created you so He knows your personality. My suggestion to either begin or grow your prayer life is to spend a few minutes in silence before you start. Put your mind toward thoughts of God. Then, pray about what comes to your mind. People often say, "well, all we can do is pray," as if it's a last resort. Nah, prayer is where we begin. We have the power to change the world around us and it all starts with a conversation with God.

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