Forget About It!
Philippians 3:12- 14 (NLT)
"...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."
FORGET ABOUT IT! Now say it again in a rough Italian/God-father/Mafia/New Yorker accent, "Hey...FUHGEDDABOUDIT!" Ah yes, that's better.
There is great wisdom in those three simple words. To FORGET ABOUT IT is to look at the past with a thankful heart, but not allow it to hold you back from the amazing future ahead. No one ever finished a race while constantly looking backwards. That, of course, is easier said than done, but I do believe that as we approach the close of 2022 and look forward to 2023, God is saying to us all, "Forget about it kiddo! Forget the past and look forward to what lies ahead. Press on to reach the end without falling and getting lost in what remains behind you."
So, my encouragement to us all is to leave 2022 where it belongs and start the new year with fresh hope, renewed faith and a childlike expectation that the goodness of our Father God has prepared for us a brilliant year ahead.
Many of you have expressed how challenging this past year has been and it is true, it has been probably one of the hardest years that we have had to navigate. Truth is, we have experienced a huge amount of change, transition, shaking and rearranging. On top of that we have had to deal with the internal unsettling of what 2 years of a pandemic lock-down has done to us. So, yes, 2022 has been a year that many of us are looking forward to leaving behind.
But please hear my heart...while it is ok to reflect and acknowledge how the past has affected you, it is not ok to stay stuck there! As a matter of fact, Jesus felt so strongly about it that He said to those who wanted to follow Him, "Why do you keep looking backward to your past and have second thoughts about following me? When you turn back you are useless to God’s kingdom realm.” (Luke 9:62 - TPT). I'm sure we can all agree that none of us want to be "useless to God's Kingdom realm", but we can be when we allow the past to hold us back and overshadow the here and now and the year to come. Looking backward makes us hesitant and fearful. Looking backward ignores the work God is doing and often blames Him for what He didn't do. Looking backward keeps so, so many people bound and imprisoned in a pit of regret. That is definitely not Jesus' best for us.
So, allow me to speak into the life of our Church. This year we have experienced a massive shake-up in many different forms. While I can find reasons to dwell on the difficulties and complain about what doesn't make sense, instead, I choose to look at 2022 with a deep-hearted thankfulness for the faithfulness of Jesus and His ability to lead us into the "new thing" that He revealed to us. I am thankful for YOU, my Living Room Church family, for stepping out in faith with us and not running away in fear or disappointment. I thank you for your prayers and support, your encouragement and faith and of course your trust that Jesus is leading us into a glorious future together. Does it all make sense right now? No, but isn't that how the walk of faith works? I am so thankful for faith and the ability to follow Jesus no matter what others' are saying or what the world around us is doing. Choose to have a thankful heart and give it to Jesus as praise!
I have learnt a lot this year and I'm sure many of you have too. But as challenging as that can be, I see it as God preparing us for the greater things that He has promised. He has been training us to build spiritual muscle that will be able to steward what is to come. I always approach a new year, not with dread of a repeat of the previous one, but of hope for a better one. Even if the year was awesome and amazing, God leads us forward into greater realms of glory, not backwards to repeat what was. Forget about it!
As you come to the end of 2022, what are you sensing God is saying to you about 2023? Have you asked Him for a word or a statement that will prophetically guide you? What is He showing you? In the past I would give our Church a word for the coming year, but recently I sensed Holy Spirit wanting to make this more personal for each of us. He wants you to seek Him. He wants you to be led by Him. He wants you to be empowered by hearing His voice and walking in radical faith. I believe that God is shaping us into a surrendered, Spirit-filled community of faith where the supernatural becomes natural and normal. I believe we are growing in our expectation of Kingdom expression and what the abundant life that Jesus saved us into actually looks like. I see this in all of you and I am eagerly looking forward to discovering how you will live it out.
So, my dear Church family, let's move into a new year with hearts full of thankfulness and a faith full of confidence in God's ability to do the impossible (GOD-fidence). Cazz and I are praying for you and doing our best to lead with wisdom and eyes locked on Jesus. I'm no longer driven by the outcome and I won't fall into the trap of being forced to preach a "vision" message at the start of each year, trying to come up with something that God is not necessarily saying. Instead, all I am saying and committing to is being the best son that I can be to my Abba Father and be one who follows without hesitation so that I can then lead the people of God as I am led. I will always point you to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2). As long as Jesus is leading us on this journey, we will be in the sweet spot of His will and purpose.
May the days of Christmas celebrations and time of rest be good for you and may you look at 2022 with a thankful heart and then FORGET ABOUT IT! As you move toward the coming year, may your hope be alive, your faith be active, your love be selfless, your trust be unshakable and your worship be extravagant. You are deeply loved and valued.
I will end with a prayer that one of my old students from our College recently posted on Facebook:
"Thank you Lord for all you have done in 2022.
So many things to be grateful for.
Thank you for closed doors and shedding off the old.
Thank you for the answered prayers, redirection, realignment this year and the memories l've been able to make with my loved ones.
I am so grateful to have finished this year with the ONE thing that has remained, and that is you JESUS!
This year has been a blessing in disguise.
Ready to cross into 2023."
Love and Blessings in Abundance!