This is the third part of a series based on messages I delivered at a women’s conference:
“Forward: What happens when ordinary women follow an extraordinary God.”
In the first two sessions (also published here) we weaved in and out of Peter’s story and heroes of the faith mentioned in Hebrews 11, including Joseph. By this third message, we were ready to put it all together and I believe this session was the highlight of the weekend.
Whether it’s outright sin and failure or an unexpected turn of events, life did NOT turn out as planned for just about ALL of the well-known servants in the Bible. At critical junctures, when they could have given in to despair and given up on ever experiencing purpose and joy again, many chose actions and attitudes that propelled them forward. We can learn from them.
This message is for anyone who needs encouragement to leave the past behind or courage to keep stepping into the future.
Although you will find the essence of the talk in the outline and notes below, some of my favorite personal stories and pondered treasures from God’s Word are included on the full audio (player below).
Message: How to go FORWARD from here
Outline | Notes
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12 builds on the stories of those who walked in faith and gives us instruction for how we can move our own faith forward.Going #forward always involves leaving something behind.Click To Tweet
B. Lay aside Weight
(Phil. 3:13-14; Gen. 41:50-52; Gen. 45:4-8)
There are things from our past that will become dead weight if they follow us into our future. Sometimes we leave behind the PAIN of the PAST and other times we must lay aside PLANS for the FUTURE.
Every time God’s servants in the Old Testament were called to new heights or new opportunities to know God and be used by Him, they first had to leave, let go, or forget.
The same was true for each of the disciples and Peter. They had to LEAVE to follow Jesus in the beginning. Going forward after Jesus’ resurrection, they had to leave behind all expectations of how they thought this would play out.
God can and will help you forget and/or reframe. He is not done and the pain of what is behind you does not define HIS plans for what is ahead of you.
Keep this in mind: “Forgetting” doesn’t necessarily mean ERASING all memory but instead it’s a conscious and courageous decision to refuse to let certain things from the past obstruct the future.
Jesus will take you to places with Him that are more than you imagined, but they will rarely look like what you had planned.You’ll never pick up a cross unless you’re willing to first drop a net. #ForwardClick To Tweet
C. Run your own Race
Peter’s recommission ended with a walk on the beach with Jesus, during which Peter looked back and asked about John’s assignment. Jesus didn’t answer Peter’s question, but instead reiterated, “You follow me.” There’s an important parallel here for our own attempts to go forward. We can’t stop to compare our journey to others’ and follow forward at the same time.
The race set out for you is not the race set out for the one running next to you. The game of comparison will eat your soul alive. Run your OWN race.
Relatedly, don’t put a period where God has placed a comma. Your view is not complete; you only see the race IN FRONT of you. You can’t know what else God has for you.
Peter’s recommission was this: Feed the sheep. That doesn’t sound too glamorous or important or kingdom-moving but that assignment was how Jesus introduced Peter to a calling beyond anything he could imagine.
Wherever you are. Whatever your race holds. Regardless of how different it is from what you expected. Throw yourself forward, full force ~ both feet ~ all in ~ into what God has for you right now.The game of comparison will eat your soul alive. #RunYourOwnRaceClick To Tweet
D. Fix your Eyes on Jesus
(John 21:18; John 6:68; Matt. 14:26-30)
Jesus asked Peter one question, “Do you love me?” What Peter would be called to do could only be done if he was completely devoted to his Lord. Peter’s God-ordained assignment would not only include standing before crowds and strengthening fellow believers but also hanging upside down as his martyred blood seeded the church.
Hebrews 12 tells us that we fix our eyes on Jesus by focusing on how he is both the founder and the finisher ~ the starter and the closer ~ the author and perfector ~ of our faith.
The outgrowth of meditation on His redeeming work in your life will be an overflowing of grace that floods your soul and fixes your eyes like a laser on your Savior.
In our struggle against our own self-centered sin, it might seem like an obvious remedy to focus our eyes on the sin itself. God says otherwise. Through the Hebrews writer, He tells us this: “Don’t fix your eyes on what you can or can’t do. Fix your eyes on what I’ve already done and am doing in you through the sacrifice of my one and only Son.”The #Gospel is not just for salvation. It’s for daily sanctification.Click To Tweet
E. Fix your Eyes on Jesus’ Return
(1 Peter 1:1-13; John 14:1-3)
Fixing your eyes on Jesus is not limited to meditating on the work He has done in your life or the change He is perfecting in your life. It extends to the home he is preparing for your soul when all breath leaves your life.
The New Testament writers talked often about how an awareness and anticipation of Jesus’ return is the key to walking in faith.
Jesus himself spoke often of heaven and some of his most powerful parables were delivered in the week leading up to his death.
Fix your eyes. Fix your hope. The awareness that this world is not your home and the anticipation of the home in Jesus’ presence are the bookends that help you survive and thrive in the short time He’s given you in THIS world.
This can and will change everything, and it can be the difference between cowering in fear and stepping FORWARD in faith.This world is not your home; Jesus is coming back to take you to the one that is.Click To Tweet
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