Staying Watchful and Alert

The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14(NLT), “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, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Not only did Paul have some level of understanding about the light, love, liberty, and life of Jesus Christ, but he understood that living by the example of Jesus Christ should forever and always be the goal of believers. We make a ton of mistakes. Every day we get up with the intention of keeping our minds and hearts stayed on Jesus, but something can happen during the day, and we can get completely turned around. We’re imperfect people in an imperfect world, but the Good News of Jesus Christ is that we are being perfected each day through him. Each day, we get a little closer to the mark. So, in simpler terms, Paul is telling us in Philippians 3:13-14, “I may not be completely there, but I’m on my way. I know the destination because Jesus paved the road ahead, and I am committed to keep pressing until I make it to the finish line!”

The Apostle Paul told us something else in this passage, and it is an extremely important piece of wisdom that will help us keep our eyes wide open. He said that he made a conscious practice of forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. How many of us can say that we’re doing this? Most people make it a habit of continually focusing on the past, but the truth is that those days are gone, they will never come again, and we can’t do anything to bring the past into the present or the future. The past is gone forever.  Similarly, the world as we knew it will never be again, and this is a very challenging thing for many people to accept.

It is impossible for us to give the present and the future a full commitment of energy and faith if we’re stuck in the past. We can’t find anywhere in God’s Word where He made it possible for a person to relive what has already taken place. Heavenly Father wants us to maximize the moment we have right now, and we do this by being thankful and having faith in Him. With God, it’s progression and moving forward all the way, not regression and going backwards. Moving forward is the way God has set up things to work. We cannot go back in time and grab things from the past and bring them to the future. All we have is right now!

This is critical to our thinking, because many of us today are so distracted by what is happening around us that we are wishing for a bygone era or for times and memories that once were. Why do you suppose people do this? We wish for the past because of a lack of faith for the future. That’s not a sustainable attitude and mindset for a Christian. Our hope is in Christ, and we should always be looking ahead to the promise of God. 1Thessalonians 5:1-2(NLT), tells us “1 Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters, we don’t really need to write you. 2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.” This is a warning to stay alert and vigilant, because Jesus Christ is coming back for his people. We must be careful that he doesn’t find us slack on the job and pining away for the past.

2Thessalonians 2:1-3(NLT) tells us, “1 Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. 2 Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us. 3 Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction.” We can’t shrink back to old thinking, attitudes, and behaviors, and we shouldn’t want to. While there’s breath in our bodies, we have a chance to turn ourselves around so that God will be pleased with our lives. Every individual must stand before Him and account for what they’ve done on earth. There are no excuses, and no matter how much whining a person does, their works and deeds will speak for them. We may have done wrong in the past, but God will forgive us if we change and begin to live for Him. So, we don’t have time to focus on anything other than our relationship with God in Christ, and to focus on doing all that we can to demonstrate our gratitude and faith in Him.

The days are evil, and there is no question about that, but they’ve been evil ever since Adam’s and Eve’s debacle in the Garden of Eden. Many are claiming to have received prophecy concerning when our Lord will return and are proclaiming that it’s close at hand. Because of this, some believers are abdicating the way of faith. They are abandoning their stand in Christ and giving in to sadness and fear. We can’t afford to have this kind of mindset. There’s too much work to do. Don’t look for things to be as they were. Newness is here, and we must stand prepared to embrace whatever the Father is doing in the earth. We don’t need to know all the details; we just need to have faith in Him.

Jesus Christ is coming back for us, his brothers and sisters, God’s children. Our Heavenly Father could have kept his return a secret, but He wanted us to know it so that our hope would be complete. He wanted us to know it so that we would not misplace our hope and invest it in the world. God has given us a sure hope in Jesus Christ, so that we would stay watchful and alert, and keep pressing to the finish line. Seeing our Savior face to face is the greatest prize of all eternity, nothing on earth can compare, but until that great day, let us be faithful to our commitment to stand in faith. We must give God our all, stay prayerful, and continue to live and love by the example of Jesus Christ ! ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Staying Watchful and Alert”,  written by JMack,© 2021. All rights reserved. All praise and honor to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

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