Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church
Welcome to the exciting conclusion of our 4-week “Starting Over” series.
We’re so glad you’re here today!
We’ve taken 3 weeks to look at this process of Starting Over and what it takes, and here’s what we’ve found so far:
It all starts with willingness to FACE THE FACTS…that we need to start over in the first place.
Then we need to actually do something about it…and take the FIRST STEPS
And then, if we want to have LASTING CHANGE, we need to throw off the old habits, put on some new ones, and let God change us from the inside out.
And this morning…as we wrap things up…I want to talk about the following dilemma: What do you do…if you’re Starting Over process is going well…and then…all of a sudden…it’s not.
You take a step backwards
You fall over
You mess up
JESUS HAS TAKEN A HOLD OF YOU
Thankfully, the Bible once again has some great wisdom for us on this.
It gives wisdom all over the place on this subject, as the Bible is full of grace, but we’re going to concentrate specifically today on a passage written by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians
(Philippians 3:12-14) – NIV
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. 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.
This passage is PACKED with wisdom, so let’s start to break it down and apply it to our lives.
Paul starts by saying in verse 12, “I press on take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me”
It’s kind of tough English.
The ESV translation is slightly easier to understand in this case. It reads, “But I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made ME HIS own”
So, in other words, Paul is saying that he is running after Jesus, because Jesus already ran after him.
This is a bit what we talked about on Easter if you were here.
He’s pursuing Jesus, because Jesus found him.
And notice, it’s not the other way around.
It’s not, “I decided to try and be a good Godly person and do good Godly things, and because I did so…Jesus took hold of me”
No, in all of these changes that so many of you are trying to see happen in your life, we run hard after Jesus and His ways because of what He first did for us.
He first loved us.
THAT’S what Paul is saying
You know, God has done some amazing things in this series so far.
We’ve seen more practical big changes in this series in the lives of our people than almost any other we’ve ever done… SERIOUSLY.
And yet, this is a series that has really separated the humble from the proud.
Some days I’m not sure which camp I’m in myself
For all the great stories we’ve heard, I’ve ALSO spoken with many others over the past few weeks who’ve said, “I just don’t need to start anything over. There’s just not much to work on in my life right now”
But think about this…if you’ve been tuning out because you’ve deemed “there’s nothing in your life that needs a change of direction,” think about this:
Paul says, (PAUL! The greatest Christian of all time, Paul!) he says, “Not that I’ve obtained all this…”
He says, “I’m still pressing on towards Jesus”
And yet, many of us, say, “We’ve got rid of the MAJOR OUTWARD sins in our lives, so we’ve…pretty much arrived”
But Paul was still pursuing God and running hard after him year after year…
By the time of this writing, Paul’s been a Christian for 26 years
And yet, he’s still ruthlessly running after Jesus… fervently trying to become more like Him everyday.
Listen, God’s work is not done in you…and won’t be until you die.
Keep pursuing Him.
Don’t be satisfied that God changed your life in the first year you followed Him…and that’s it.
Stop riding on those highs.
If Paul would have stopped pressing into Jesus after year one, he would have never changed the world.
So, if you’ve been shutting your mind off this series…turn it back on…this is for you. Don’t stop. Don’t get blinded by pride.
Coincidentally…or maybe not…maybe God’s been leading us to this all along (as its been on the schedule for a bit now)…next week, we are starting a new 3-week series called “Distorted Reality”
(Show DISTORTED REALITY slide)
It’s a 3-week series on the 3 most common forms of…PRIDE.
It’s going to be hard hitting… Good stuff.
YOU’RE NOT PERFECT
Paul also says, that for another group of us, the problem is not that we don’t think we need to run at Jesus anymore, but that we’re too ashamed to run.
And yet, look closely at the words of this great Christian.
He already told us in verse 12 that he isn’t there yet
As if that wasn’t enough, he reiterates that exact point, in verse 13!
(Philippians 3:13a) – NIV
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.
In other words…I’m not perfect.
And yet…and YET…he keeps his eyes on Jesus and keeps running at Him anyway.
So don’t put this ridiculous standard over yourself that says you need to do this restart perfectly.
Paul messed up. A lot.
And yet, whenever he fell down, he got back up.
The key to success is not in avoiding falling down, it’s having the courage and the wisdom to get back up AFTER you fall down.
When I was in 8th grade, my left shoulder started to dislocate.
I’d be playing basketball, and would go up for a rebound, and all of a sudden, “OH MY WORD!”
The X-Rays were always really creepy because the ball of the shoulder bone would always be hanging halfway down my arm.
And after it happened 2 or 3 times, I’ll never forget what my doctor said to me.
He said, “Unfortunately, with shoulder dislocations, it’s not a matter of IF it happens again, but WHEN.”
It’s the same sort of thing with sin.
It’s the same sort of thing in trying to start something over and foolishly thinking you won’t struggle or fall at some point in time”
That’s not going to happen.
It’s not a matter of IF you should fall, but WHEN.
So, if you’ve been working on getting your marriage right again these past few weeks…and things have been going pretty smoothly…
But then all of a sudden, tomorrow night, you’re watching “The Voice” on TV, and you somehow get in a fight about which contestant is better…
And before you know it, you’re screaming about your marriage.
This is, by the way, how most fights start.
They usually start out from the most ridiculous things.
But the question will be, what happens to you mentally when that screaming match starts?
Because, I think most people think, “Well, so much for starting over…I guess this “putting our marriage back together thing” isn’t going to work”
But when you hit the road bumps in starting over…don’t forget…it’s not IF…it’s WHEN you fall.
You’re not perfect.
When you put two sinners in a room together, what do you get?!? SIN!!
If Paul wasn’t perfect, neither will you be.
When people that have success in starting something over, their trendline of success isn’t usually just up and to the right.
It looks more like this (bobbing up and down but mostly going up)
In the end, what matters more is not how many times you fall down, but how many times you get back up.
What really matters is how fervently you seek Christ and seek to keep following Him.
So many times, we never get up again, because subconsciously we’d rather just “not try,” than risk failure again.
But remember what we said a few weeks ago, “No decision IS a decision”
Not trying is NOT the same as not failing.
The biggest failure is to not try.
Just accept that due to your humanity, it’s going to be a bumpy road…but keeping seeking Jesus and what’s right.
THE PAST IS THE PAST
And Paul gives a basic rule of thumb for that at the end of verse 13
(Philippians 3:13b) – NIV
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
Strain towards what is ahead (That’s knowing Jesus more), and forgetting what is behind.
Now, let me just spend a second on what he’s NOT saying.
This is not some sort of Dove Chocolate Wrapper saying about keeping the past in the past and never looking back.
That would contradict the rest of Paul’s teachings.
We don’t forget God’s mercy to us in the past
We don’t just completely forget the sins we committed yesterday and haven’t asked for forgiveness for yet
His point is not that we should never ever look back.
The point is: We should only look back if it’s going to help us look forward.
And A LOT of the time when we do look back, it’s not helpful.
For instance, maybe you had a failed marriage…and you’re just constantly dwelling on why it happened.
Maybe it was even 10 years ago now…and you haven’t moved on.
To that Paul would say, “Forget the past…run towards Jesus. Move forward”
Or maybe you’re working on Starting Over with Jesus again…and taking your faith seriously again
But last week, you had a day where you slipped back into some of your old habits.
It’s to this, the Bible would say, “Okay, it happened. Ask for forgiveness. Right your wrongs. Do what you need to do.”
“But THEN…remember, he’s already taken a hold of you. You’re already his. If you’re a Christian, you’re already forgiven.”
There’s nothing you can do to make Him love you less.
So get back up, and keep running after the one who already ran at you.
You can’t drive very well if you’re always looking in the rear view mirror.
And for some of us, we’re looking at different things in that rear view mirror.
Some of us…are always looking at another driver in the rear view mirror (they’re riding me! They’re getting too close! They’re making my life miserable!)
This is the group of people that when they face any outside opposition in their Starting Over process, it becomes really hard for them to just keep looking forward.
And eventually they crash.
I don’t know if you remember Driver’s Ed from when you were 15, but they teach you if someone’s up on your bumper, the best thing you can do is just keep looking ahead.
You can’t control them anyway.
Just keep striving forward.
Think of Paul here! He had plenty of people trying to obstruct his driving!
Haters stoned him, religious zealots whipped him, and nature shipwrecked him.
But he kept driving.
He kept running towards Jesus.
But some of us aren’t always looking at the other driver, we’re looking at us.
You’re trying to drive your car, but you can’t stop looking at yourself in the rear view mirror
“What’s wrong with your make-up?”
“Did you really do that yesterday?”
“Look at yourself! You are such a failure!”
And you become so obsessed with your past mistakes, that it’s only going to lead to another crash because you’re not looking forward.
Let me show you a better way:
This clip is a few years old now, but it’s of University of Minnesota runner Heather Dorniden who’s running the 600M at the Big Ten Championships
She’s doing great, until about 2/3 of the way through the race…with one lap to go…this happens…
Check it out
It’s an amazing video.
I think MOST people though in her situation…right after they fall…they quit.
They just kind of walk to the side…and shake their head….they can’t get past the fall.
I’ve watched this video almost 10 times, and I could see myself, getting back up, and maybe just coasting on the last lap.
Thinking to myself, “Well, I’m not going to win…so why try, but I don’t want to quit…so I’ll just coast”
People do this in a lot of things…like marriage.
Well, it’s not really working, but I don’t want to be a divorcee either…so I’ll just coast.
We don’t move past the fall.
We don’t really get back up.
Or if we do, it’s not the same.
But not in this case.
She gets up…and she starts running. And running to win!
The past is in the past.
SO what? You fell!
It’s in the past!
You totally said the wrong thing to your friend and you can’t stop thinking about it!
It’s in the past!
I mean, talk to God about it, make it right w/ your friend
By you’re not doing anyone any good by moping around about your fall.
Get up and run!
RUN TOWARDS JESUS
And you can run…and you can run hard after a fall…because you know that Jesus has already run at you.
Look at verse 14. After Paul says “forget the past,” he says this:
(Philippians 3:14) – NIV
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
And that prize is to KNOW JESUS…Paul says so himself earlier in the chapter. He says it’s, “to know Him more and more.”
Culminating in one day being able to have everlasting enjoyment with Him…directly in His presence.
That’s why we keep running.
As the great preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, “If the end is glorious, so what if the running is laborious?”
If you fall, get back up and run.
The girl in the video was able to get back up and run because, after all, this was the Big Ten Championship!
We’re able to get back up and run…because think about how much greater the prize we are running at is!
And not only that, you KNOW that He’s already given you that prize!
It’s like this…imagine two scenarios:
Scenario one: A father says to his child, “I just got you a new bike…but it’s down at the end of the block.
If you can make it there in under 45 seconds, it’s yours. If not, I’m taking it back to Target.”
The child starts running, but in their excitement they fall.
They get up and start running again, but in their frustration…they fall again.
Maybe even give up.
Scenario Two: A father says to his child, “I just got you a new bike…it’s right down at the end of the block at Bill’s house where I’ve been hiding it until now.
“Do you see it? (the child sees it)
“Go ahead and run towards it! It’s yours”
Totally different, right?
See, when we fall, when you’re starting over process doesn’t go perfectly, we get up and keep running…BECAUSE he’s already given us himself.
He’s already promised you an amazing future. It’s yours!
This is not, like any other religion.
This is not…if you run hard enough…then you’ll get it.
It’s what Paul says, “I take hold of it, because he already took hold of me”
And some of you maybe said to yourself, “Yeah, maybe, but if He’s giving me the prize anyway (no matter what I do), I think I’ll just coast my way in.
“I’m not going to run very hard at Jesus if I’m getting the same prize as everyone else”
But you only say that because you don’t truly understand what the prize is.
You’re treating Jesus and eternity like a bike…when if you could see Him for who He truly is…if you could see His love for you…like it truly is…you would run faster than you’ve ever ran in your life…straight at Him.
And the more you get to know His love and forgiveness, the faster you’ll get up each time you fall.
So, as so many of you strive to implement new changes in your life…
Know that you will fall.
But what truly matters is what you do…when you fall.
So when you get back up, keep following Jesus.
And run after Him…because he ran after you.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.