inSPIRE Hope

Philippians 3:13b-16a – in-SPIRE HOPE

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. 

Amidst apprehensions of days, weeks, months to come, it would seem easy for the church and Christians generally to run out of gas. The times seem difficult to in-SPIRE HOPE in anything or anyone, make plans, and dream. It’s like a tension between what is and what will be. And yet, we haven’t run out of gas and we won’t! The future is wide open for Cason to in-SPIRE HOPE in the name of Christ Jesus! 

Of course, we must enter the future with thoughtful tools and imagination! This time more than ever, we need to pray for each other, our church leaders and for the leaders of nations around the world. We must commit to living faithfully, with our eyes fixed on Jesus. Paul said it in Philippians 13: One thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what is ahead. Another translation puts it this way: Forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things before. The vision of the runner is great! After all, who turns to look back when they are running a race? Good runners keep their eyes fixed on the goal ahead. For the Apostle Paul, the goal was to live out a life that reflected our Risen Lord; to share Jesus’ life, His power, His vision and His work in the world. The goal is to in-SPIRE HOPE!

But we do look behind us, don’t we? It’s tempting to dwell on the past. We must be careful that it doesn’t drain us of our positive energy and zest for life! Oh, we must regard the past with respect and caution. Visit the past and learn from it; and even, draw strength from it. However, we must be careful that it does not overwhelm, trap, or harm us. That kind of baggage will destroy you. Ever heard the saying: live with your back to your past? 

And here’s a thought: your past can affect other people’s future! You know the ones; you can see their burden on them before they speak.  It’s like a badge somehow. And as much as we minister to them, they still hold on. That kind of wallowing in the past will drain HOPE from everyone. As a pastor, I have seen whole congregations dwelling in the past and making decisions from past hurts. Now, this is not to say that we should not share our burdens.  Life is hard and we as Christians should bear with one another. The past that I am talking about is that which we refuse to let go of. The past that brings a person to a place where they refuse to forgive or be forgiven!  For them, life stops at that pain and everything that occurs after it is barely living. 

Now don’t get me wrong, looking forward and not dwelling on what’s behind is crazy difficult!  I think about the Apostle Paul, formerly Saul, before his conversion. He should have lived out his life in shame and failure, haunted by his previous career as an agent of the temple in Jerusalem, charged with hunting down, arresting and bringing Christians back for imprisonment and execution. Think about Stephen.  Paul could have mentally re-lived the scene in which he gave orders for stoning Stephen to death. He could have re-heard the sounds of the crowds and seen the fear that swept over the faces of the believers. Paul could have re-lived this event day after day for the rest of his life. 

But Paul experienced the healing power of the Cross.  He experienced the healing power of turning to Christ and finding forgiveness. God had plans for Paul and could not possibly have wanted him to get stuck in his past. For Paul there was something greater to be gained by moving ahead and not lingering in the past. That is alsotrue for us. There is simply nothing to be gained by going back to past hurts and refusing to get over them. However, by forgiving and pressing forward, we gain a greater Christ-likeness. We gain strength, maturity, understanding, and patience. We grow in wisdom and faith and give both our offenders and ourselves the opportunity to learn from the past and be better in the future. Imagine the victory…the Hope! God wants a future for you! For me! For us!

Cason, where are we going? What are our goals and priorities?  Our Church Council and our in-SPIRE team are making plans! We are investing our time, energy, financial resources and talents in this brave new way of living! We were saved to be used by God. We are saved to do good! God has a particular plan for Cason, just as He had for Paul and the Philippian Church! We must decide: Will we live in the past?  Or will we look heavenward to the prize and live as forgiven people, bringing as many with us as we can, as we at Cason, in-SPIRE HOPE!


I just love being your pastor! Joy, joy – Pastor Alexis

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