“… 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
In the third chapter of the Book of Philippians, Apostle Paul gives a pretty clear picture of what it means to set a goal, and then stick with it. Look at what he says in verses 12-14, New Living Translation:
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but 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.”
There are several key points in these few verses that, if heeded, would lead to a successful and prosperous life for any believer. But one phrase in particular sticks out in those verses: “press on.”
Notice what Paul said regarding his attitude toward the work he had been called by God to do. In verse 12 he said, “I press on to possess…” and in verse 14 he says, “I press on to reach ….”
As one who had been converted by the One he had spent many years persecuting, Paul knew what it meant to press on. Persecution had followed him almost from the first day he decided to follow Jesus. He had suffered much punishment at the hands of his detractors, often being beaten and imprisoned.
There may have even been times in his life when, perhaps in secret, Paul might have contemplated giving up and walking away from his ministry. But not once did he give in to such thoughts, or take his eyes off the goal God had set for him. Instead, he remained faithful to his assignment, knowing the path he was on was ordained by God and would eventually lead him to a prize that only God could give.
We Are Called to Prosper
As children of the Most High God, we have been called to prosper and live abundant lives. It is what God wants for all His children: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and [that your body] may keep well, even as [I know] your soul keeps well and prospers” (3 John 1:2, The Amplified Bible).
But to get to that place we have to operate with the same attitude as Paul, and “press on.”
Paul chose to forget about the past: “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.”
Why do you suppose that was? What did he mean by “forgetting the past”? It meant Paul didn’t want to think about things that happened in the past that may have caused him to stumble. He was not interested in rehearsing past mistakes and failures. Why? Because dwelling on past failures tends to cause you to continue to see yourself as a failure.
No one wants to be reminded of past failures. When you look ahead, look forward, you can do so with expectancy about what the future holds. Dwelling on past mistakes will cause you to slip over into doubt and fear. You find yourself shying away from any challenge because you become afraid of failure.
Paul was not willing to let reminders of his past block what he was destined to become.
Speak Your Future, Not Your Past!
That same principle should apply to every believer. The problem is, many Christians today are stalled in their move toward success because they are still holding onto the past. They don’t realize the power they have been given to speak their own successful future into existence.
Jesus said in Mark 11:23, “That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”
Don’t hinder your destiny by holding onto things from the past that will ultimately destroy you. Don’t meditate on the past. Instead, follow what God said to Joshua and spend your time meditating on the Word of God. It’s the Word that will cause you to prosper and be successful (Joshua 1:8).
Henry Fernandez is senior pastor of The Faith Center Ministries in Sunrise, Fla., and is author of the best-selling book, Faith, Family & Finances: Strong Foundations for a Better Life. For more information, go to www.henryfernandez.org or call 1-954-742-7832.