When you think back on your life, what are the most embarrassing moments that come to your mind?

One of the first ones that comes to my mind is a night that I was helping lead a couples Bible study on parenting. The topic of that particular week happened to be the punishment of children. We were discussing discipline methods we’d been exposed to as children, and what we continued using as parents.

The topic of spanking came up, and many of us began sharing quick thoughts, insights and memories. As we began talking about HOW we had been spanked as children, I was sharing about the fear that I would have when my father came into my room to spank me. I knew that I had to drop my trousers and prepare for the good solid lesson of discipline that was about to be applied to the seat of learning. I stood up and intended to mimic the action of dropping my trousers. Unfortunately, my thumb caught the rear belt loop of my jeans, and what actually happened was that my clothing and my dignity dropped around my knees; with the result being really embarrassing in every possible sense of the word.

We all likely have situations where something accidentally occurred and left us embarrassed. But those aren’t the worst things. The tougher memories for me are times that I made foolish choices that had a painfully negative impact on relationships. Sometimes these were rude and self-centered choices, at other times they were sinful; not infrequently they were both. Those are the things that can hold you back if you allow your mind to focus on them after you have apologized properly and been forgiven.

Of course sometimes it can be important to think back over lessons learned, and use that as an encouragement towards better and proper behavior in the future. But, by and large, looking back is not nearly as important as looking up when you’re planning on moving forward.

And that brings us to today’s verse:

How can we run our race? The first part of the key to running a good race is found in some verses of scripture Paul wrote to the church in Philippi. Paul knew he was not already perfect, he even made a point of saying so. But he did also say his primary determination was to press on and take hold of that for which Christ Jesus had taken hold of him. Many of you know, this is my life verse. Paul had no illusions about whether he had accomplished this goal in his own life. The second part of the key to running a good race is to recognize where you are. Specifically, Paul said he did not even consider that he already taken hold of the goal. However, he said, there was one thing he did that helped him continue to make progress. Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, he pressed on toward the goal of the progress of the upward call in Christ Jesus.

Forgetting what lies behind is a critical step to be able to focus upon what lies ahead. If you are being constantly reminded of your past failures after you have come to Christ and repented of them, I have good news for you. That is NOT God holding your mind in the past. That is the enemy trying to stop you from forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to it lies ahead.

God does use His Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. The WORLD, not His children. Jesus says the Spirit convicts the world of sin because they do not believe in Jesus. So if you do believe in Jesus, there’s no foundation for conviction there. He says that the Spirit convicts people in regard to righteousness because He’s going to the Father. But He is going to prepare a place for you, according to Jesus his own words, if you are in Christ. So there’s no place for conviction there either. Finally, the Spirit convicts the world with respect to judgment because the prince of this world has been condemned. Well, the current prince of this world is satan, our enemy. No place for condemnation there either. In fact, the bible explicitly says that there is NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ. He took it all !!

My point is this, it is not the Holy Spirit that is convicting believers of sin, righteousness and judgment; the Holy Spirit convicts the WORLD of these things. As believers in Christ, we are not of the world. His Spirit encourages us to focus UPWARD and ONWARD.


As the picture accompanying today’s devotion so wisely observes, the only reason to look back is to see how far you’ve come. Period. Full stop. God moves in our lives. He moves us CLOSER to Him and away from the things that have brought us failure. As we become more mature and focused on Him, He works in us to will and do His good pleasure.

We need to look in the direction we want to move. Take your eyes off of that target for too long, and you will not be heading in the direction you want to head. The lesson here is simple: what we behold we move towards. In fact, it’s even deeper than that. What we behold is what we become.

So we just lay aside every weight that the enemy wants to lay upon our shoulders. Every memory, every hurt feeling. We throw away the sin that is trying to cling to us like garbage into a bin. It’s much easier to run a race if you’re not carrying a lot of baggage. Our goal is to run with endurance the race that is set before us.

The only way we know in which direction we are to run is to constantly be looking to Jesus. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. He began our story, He knows every twist and turn of the plot. He is the author, and so He tells His stories through us.

He’s also the perfecter of our faith. He works that which is necessary into our lives so we become stronger and stronger, better and better, more and more like Him. As we do, His character is worked in us, and people see Him when they look at us. The words of the scripture are seen through in our lives. It’s been said that only one in a hundred will read the bible; the rest will look at Christians to see if what it teaches makes any difference. For me to live is Christ.

Christ willingly embraced the cross. He knew it was the price for our sin, but He also knew that He must go where He would lead us. You and I, we have to be crucified with Christ also. Then it will no longer be we who live, but Christ who lives in us. Then the life that we live here on earth, the life we live in the flesh, will no longer be powered by the flesh, but will be powered by faith in the Son of God. It will be how we live. Serving God, the one who loved us and gave Himself for us.

I remember who I was. I’m not happy with it. Truth be told, in many ways I’m ashamed of it. I have seen it try to hold me back from pressing in and taking hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me far too many times. I have let peer pressure make me choose things that I knew were not the best, even if they may have been acceptable. I have doubted. I have worried. I have held onto fear more tightly than I have held onto faith. These things and many more I remember.

But when they come to my mind, I let them be like a hand pushing my face to look to the front. I cannot look behind, because that is not where I am going. I am not who I have been. I am becoming who He wants me to be, who He died for me to be. And so I keep looking to Jesus, the founder of my faith. The one who continues to work on it and in me until it is perfect. The one who embraced the cross for the joy that lives like mine and yours that are committed to Him would bring. He despised shame, but he looked at us – changed by the cross – and that brought him great joy. We were worth the price.

I remember. I remember falling, but I remember getting up. I will not be held back by the past, I will press on to the future.

One of the best images in the world of sports today about finishing a race was delivered to us in 1992 at the Barcelona Olympic games. Derek Redmond was running in the 400m semi finals. Partway through the race, he tore his hamstring and collapsed to the ground. He says something within him told him he had to try and finish the race. Pushing himself to his feet he began to hop along the race track as runners passed him on the way to the finish line. One man jumped from the stands, pushed his way past the security guards, and ran over to Redmond and wrapped an arm around his waist to hold him up. It was his father. Derek looked at his dad and simply said five words… “I have to do this.” His dad told him, “Then will do it together.” Derek’s Dad wrapped his arm around his son’s waist, pulled Derek’s arm across his shoulder and walked him to the finish line. The onlookers in the stands erupted in a standing ovation.

That’s the image of how we run the race set before us. We cannot possibly do it alone. The good news is, we were never intended to. Our Father is at our side. He draws us close to Himself, and lends His strength and stability as we move together toward the finish line.

We too are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, cheering us on. It’s not a matter of taking hold of the prize alone, it is letting the One who will give the prize take hold of us.

I remember who I was. I was hopeless, I was helpless, but I am not who I was! Who I am today is defined by the Father who walks with me, by the Son who paid the price to forgive me, and by the Spirit who fills me and uses me.

We need to remember who we were, for there are valuable lessons to be learned there.

Never, ever forget that you are not who you were. You are who you are! You are HIS. And because of whose you are, you can look to Christ and press on to become all that He would have you become.


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