The words of apostle Paul come to mind; “but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,” (Philippians 3:13c). We’ve talked and heard so much about the need to forget the past, and that is indeed very important; but it’s time to place a greater emphasis on what lies ahead of us! The past is gone, and while we may have valuable lessons to learn therefrom; we have so much more ahead of us to reach forward to.
The past has the power to hold us down and to repeat itself; but we must break free, so as to lay hold on the things which are ahead of us. The enemy doesn’t so much care about your past; but he’s very much afraid of your future; so the fight is about your future! Joseph was a dreamer (his dreams had to do with his future), and that was why his brothers wanted to kill him- they said, “We shall see what will become of his dreams!” (Genesis 37:20c).
The things ahead of us can right past wrongs, turn bad situations around, turn failure into success, etc – things that would make the past pale into insignificance; and that is why we must reach out for them. In this article, we shall be talking at the things we need to accomplish this goal.
Reaching forward to the things which are ahead, would require great effort. In the NIV, it says, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal” (Philippians 3:13-14a). Those two underlined words, connote application of force and pressure! The woman with the issue of blood “came in the press behind, and touched His garment.” (Mark 5:27c KJV).
Paul prayed that the Ephesians be empowered with inner strength through the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 3:16). We must run towards those things which are ahead of us without being tired or weary (Isaiah 40:31); and we must pray without giving up (Luke 18:1).
“but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,” Notice he said, “one thing I do;” Jesus told Martha, “you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed,” (Lk. 10:41-42.) The Psalmist said, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:” (Psa. 27:4b). Two, you must forget the things which are behind; change your focus- stop looking backward! Anyone who runs looking backwards or sideways can’t win the race; because the finishing line is always ahead and not behind! God told Israel,
“Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing,” (Isaiah 43:18-19a). We’re told it isn’t wise to ask, “Where are the good old days?” (Eccles. 7:10 MSG). We must stop recalling the past, but should always seek something better and bigger. (Heb. 11:14-16).
We must be running, with our eyes focused on the goal. You must always reach forward- even if you fall or fail, fail forward! As it is written, “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise;” (Micah 7:8a). And, “for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again,” (Pro 24:16b NIV).
In focusing on our goal, we must let go of certain ‘weights’ (Hebrews 12:1-2). Weights are not necessarily sinful or unlawful; but they not helpful or beneficial or expedient. (1 Cor.10:23)- e.g. distractions, some habits, some relationships, entertainments, etc.
It’s “the quality of being determined (i.e. firmly set in one’s decision or course of action, especially with the aim of achieving a particular goal); having a firmness of purpose.”
Determined people are extremely motivated and unlikely to quit or change their mind; they have a very strong desire, resolve and the will power) to achieve their goals. They persevere and continue working toward achieving their goal, regardless of the challenges they may face. We’re told to endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Tim. 2:3). Jesus is a perfect example of determination- “Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” (Heb. 12:2c NLT). Paul was another great example; he said he was ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus, and the brethren couldn’t persuade him not to go! (Acts 21:13).
It’s been said to be one of the most important personality traits in everyone’s life. It refers to a set of rules and regulations which are to be followed while undergoing any task or activity.
Hear this- “An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere.” (2 Tim. 2:5 MSG). Self-discipline helps you stay focused on your goals. It also enables you to stay in control of yourself and of your reaction to any situation; self-discipline (or self-control) is one of the fruit of the Spirit! (Gal. 5:22). Jesus demonstrated self-discipline in enduring the cross and disregarding its shame- more so when He challenged come down from the cross to prove He was indeed God’s Son! (Matt. 27:40).
Discipline must be maintained as a lifestyle, and not just for a short period; like a muscle, it becomes stronger, the more you train it. It can also help boost your self-esteem, because it helps you accomplish your set goals!
A study listed 10 habits of highly disciplined people:
- They commit- they’re true to their words.
- They avoid temptations.
iii. They take care of themselves- they know that things like, sleep, good nutrition and exercise, not only impact their health; but also their mood, work performance and relationships!
- They work at developing habits- they don’t see a disciplined life as being synonymous to a deprived life.
- They set boundaries- they know their limitations and say no to distractions.
- They enjoy routine- it enhances efficiency and self-management.
vii. They lead with their mind over their mood- they stick to their routine and don’t let their feelings get in the way.
viii. They clearly define their goals- they know that if a goal is too vague, it’s unlikely to be achieved.
- They live by deadlines- they don’t just set goals; they give themselves strict timelines to keep them on track along the way.
- They keep their eye on the prize- they can defer immediate gratification, in the pursuit of greater long-term gains.
Moses said to the Israelites, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;” (Deut. 30:19c).
Somebody said, ‘If you don’t choose, you will lose!’
Decisiveness is needed to accomplish your goal. Abram was told to leave his country, his father’s house and family, to a land he didn’t know; and he got up and left! God’s promises to Abram were contingent on his leaving. (Gen. 12:1-4).
Unlike Abraham, Lot lingered when the angels came to rescue him and his family out of Sodom- they had to drag them out of the city to safety. (Gen. 19:16).
No matter how great the things ahead of you are; you must decide to go for them and to pay the necessary price. However, it’s your determination and a lifestyle of discipline will help you sustain your decisions!
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Rev. Funke Ewuosho