by Angie Thomas

So, I know a few of you are big U of L Cards fans and were able to watch their unbelievable accomplishments as they clasped the National Title.  There was a lot of celebrating at this house! I found it really interesting that all the way through the NCAA tournament, even after winning their Final Four game, the team choose to not cut down the net as is customary after such a big win.  Their reasoning: they had not achieved their ultimate goal which was to win the National Title.  Sure, they celebrated their victories along the way, but their ultimate goal had not been achieved and so they kept their eyes and focus on the goal at hand.

Sounds pretty similar to Paul in Phillipians 3, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (vv. 12-14). Paul is encouraging the believers in Phillipi to keep striving to know the Lord and be identified with him. Of anyone who has walked this earth as a human, Paul would have been “justified” in taking a break, in slowing down on his relentless pursuit of the Lord.  But now he says he keeps straining toward what lies ahead, to know Jesus more and more.

When he says he “forgets what lies behind” I always assumed he was talking about the sins and weaknesses in his past that he wanted to forget, but I think Paul is also talking about forgetting all of the “good” things in his life that would lead him to become content with his current spiritual state.  He desperately desired to know more of Christ and to experience more of His love and power.  Let us never assume that because God has done a recent work in our hearts that it is time to relax, take a break and be content with our current spiritual state.  We should absolutely rejoice and celebrate when we see growth in our hearts and lives, but it should never lead us to complacency but rather a deeper hunger to glorify and enjoy Him more perfectly!

I know this week, the Lord gently convicted me that I have not been making my quiet time with him a priorty these last few weeks since our study finished.  There is no one on Tuesday or Thursday that will know if I have not got up to spend time with the Lord.  For me, part of becoming lazy follows not having a plan.  Without a daily study to work on, my daily time with the Lord does not seem as pressing.  Here is my challenge to myself and to each of you in the next few weeks until our next study starts back up.

1. Ask the Lord WHEN He would like to meet with you each morning. Be willing to be obedient to what He shows you. I know you will be blessed beyond measure and ask Him each night as you fall asleep to give you the grace you need to meet Him at that time.

2. Ask the Lord to show you WHAT He would like for you to study and meditate on during that time.  What book or books of the Bible would the Lord have you read through during this time?  May I suggest reading through one of the Gospels or perhaps reading through several Psalms a day.  Plan now. We have about 8 weeks until Fearless starts.  Figure out how many chapters you would need to read each day or each week in order to complete what the Lord is laying on your heart to do.

3. WHO does the Lord want you to be praying for? This is a great time to get your prayer journal organized and lay out specific people, ministries, church leaders, etc. that you can be praying for on a weekly or daily basis.  There is a prayer chart on the back of your memorization verses from this past semester.  This can just help you outline what people you can be praying for on what days.  It is also great to write down Scriptures you can pray for those people.

Here is the Lord’s sweet promise to us as we continue to seek Him, from Hosea 6:3,

Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth

I love this promise!  His going out is as sure as the dawn. Just as the sun rises every morning to start a new day, our God will be faithful to meet us as we ask for the grace to meet with Him. He will gently nurture and grow our faith. Just as gentle spring showers cause the grass to green, the flowers to bloom, and the trees to bud around us, He will cause His Word, His truth, and His righteousness to grow in our hearts! We can see nature shouting this beautiful truth and we can rest assured He will do the same in our lives. We can count on God’s promises. He makes them and never breaks them!


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