STOP LOOKING BACK. Looking back will turn us into a pillar of salt as it did Lot’s wife and cause our tombstones to be placed in the wilderness as it did the children of Israel. God said to forget the past and press toward the future. Find what it is that I have created you to do and be, then do it. We must stop looking back.
I Want To Leave Something Here
By Pastor Delbert Young
Stop Looking Back
Stop Looking Back
Scriptures: Philippians 3:12, 17, Ephesians 2:8-10, Psalms 139:14, Proverbs 22:6, Philippians 3:17, Philippians 3:13, Genesis 19:17, 26, Numbers 11:5-6
We are beginning a new series called I WANT TO LEAVE SOMETHING HERE! I want us to see God not only has a plan for us to have abundant and successful lives, he also wants us to impact our society by leaving something here after we are gone. We are not here only to pass time. We are here to accomplish something and leave something that matters. I know this is true because God left many things here and we are created in his image. God left the sun and moon. God left humanity, the rainbow, and the kingdom of God. All those things matter.
I want to begin the series by asking you a question. How many truly believe Life Gate Church has the potential to LEAVE SOMETHING HERE in this region unlike any other church around? I do! This is not to say other churches will not leave something too, but the Lord obviously called us to be different. Knowing this, we are constantly tempted to be like other churches and it would be much easier than doing what we do. But, if we are like every other church then what will we leave? My point is you are tempted to be like everyone else. It is easy, but if you are like everyone else then what will you leave? You are here to leave something beyond your parents or friends. I want to encourage you through this series to decide in your heart you will LEAVE SOMETHING HERE.
God’s primary plan for you and me is to give us a victorious life so we can advance the kingdom of God and leave our mark. Over the next few weeks, we will be talking about some things the Bible teaches assuring us we can LEAVE SOMETHING HERE. We will talk about ‘STOP LOOKING BACK,’ ‘TAKE TIME TO DANCE,’ ‘FACE MY FEARS,’ ‘CHANGE FROM THE INSIDE OUT,’ ‘MAKE MY MARK,’ ‘BRAND NEW MAN.’
YOUR PAST WAS ONLY STEPS TO YOUR FUTURE. This week I want to talk aboutSTOP LOOKING BACK. Did you know one of the primary reasons people never accomplish their dreams is because they allow their pasts to stop them? As we begin this lesson today, I want to ask you, “Will your past mold you, or will your future mold you?” Will your past be your legacy, or will your future be your legacy? I have an “alright” legacy now, but it is not yet the legacy I want to leave. I know down in my belly there is more, much, much more in my future. How about you? Do you know without a doubt your future is bright, or will it be the “same-old, same-old”? I could have allowed my past to stop me from ever doing what I do and ever experiencing what I get to experience. How about you? Is your past stopping you from leaving here what God wants you to leave? Every time I think about failure, I think about Thomas Edison. Edison tried over ten thousand different experiments before he finally demonstrated the first working light bulb on October 21, 1879. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 10,000 times?’ Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 10,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 10,000 steps.” Your past is not failure. Your past was only steps to where you are to go. STOP LOOKING BACK!
The apostle Paul left something here. Paul wrote more of the New Testament than any other writer. Those writings, dating nearly two-thousand years ago, are still impacting us today. Preachers reference Paul’s teachings every week all around the world. Paul wrote 13 of the 27 New Testament books. Paul had begun churches and had a great legacy, but he knew there was more for him to leave. He is a great person to tell us how to leave something here and to STOP LOOKING BACK.
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this ONE THING: FORGETTING THE PAST AND LOOKING FORWARD TO WHAT LIES AHEAD, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. I hope all of you who are mature Christians will agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must be sure to obey the truth we have learned already. Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. (Philippians 3:12, 17) [NLT]
Paul said success comes by focusing on ONE THING. You have to STOP LOOKING BACK. God has something great awaiting us in our futures. The apostle gave us some thoughts we need to know about STOP LOOKING BACK.
BE WHAT JESUS SAVED YOU TO BE
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally BE ALL THAT CHRIST JESUS SAVED ME FOR AND WANTS ME TO BE. I strain [KJV – I press…] to reach the end of the race and receive the prize… (Philippians 3:12-13)
Paul said the release to run the race is to STOP LOOKING BACK and to strain to be all Christ Jesus saved him for and wanted him to be. If I were to ask you right now, “What did Christ Jesus save you for, not from, and what does Jesus want you to be,” would you be able to answer? People are told what they are saved from, but not told what they saved for. God created every person for a purpose, i.e. to do something special. To do something special we must stop looking back.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus TO DO good works, which God prepared in advance for us TO DO. [Ephesians 2:8-10]
We are not saved because we did something. We are saved because God called us to do something. God created each of us uniquely. Identical twins are not identical. Our DNA is different. Our retina layout is different. Our dental layout is different. We have unique fingerprints. No one has ever been or will ever be like you. David said it this way.
I will praise thee; for I AM FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. [Psalms 139:14]
Why did God create us differently? It is because he wants us to accomplish something different. One thing we want to do this year is help you figure out what Jesus wants you to be. We are going to begin with the temperament study. We aim it at helping you discover how God created you.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. [Proverbs 22:6]
The verse does not mean make your child go to church and they will turn out ok. Parents are to train the child for life. Now, if they are in a good church preparing the child for life, it will definitely help. The verse means parents are to direct their children according to the gifts God placed in your child. When they are old, they will be successful. Have you ever heard something like this said, “That is a gifted child”? My point is simply coming to church every time the door opens will not make you successful. God created you, just as he created your children with special gifts and talents. We are all gifted and if we will train up ourselves in the way we should go, we will prosper in every area.ONCE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE HERE TO DO, YOUR PAST WILL NOT HOLD YOU BACK.You are off for the race. This is what Paul said.
How did Paul know why Jesus saved him and wanted him to do? Paul had an encounter with Jesus. He prayed and talked to Jesus. He received godly counsel. He lived the word of God. What are you doing along these lines? What is IT Jesus saved you to be? IT’s more than to just get saved and come to church. What training do you need? IT could be going back to school. IT could be taking the chance and chasing the dream. The first step in not allowing your past to stop your future is to get a hold on why Jesus saved you and what IT is he wants you to do.
PATTERN AND FOLLOW CORRECT EXAMPLES
Dear brothers and sisters, PATTERN YOUR LIVES AFTER MINE, and learn from those who FOLLOW OUR EXAMPLE. [Philippians 3:17]
In the late 1960’s, Don Shula coached the then Baltimore Colts to a League championship. The Miami Dolphins went after and acquired Shula as head coach. Shula showed the Dolphin team films of the League Champion Baltimore Colts. He pointed out to the Miami team how the Colts ran plays with precision. He pointed out to them how they encouraged each other on the field. He wanted the Dolphins to PATTERN themselves after the champions. It worked. The Miami Dolphins have gone on to have 21 Playoff Berths, 12 AFC Eastern Division Championships, 5 American Football Conference Championships, and 2 Super Bowl Championships. They chose the correct team toPATTERN AFTER and FOLLOW as an EXAMPLE. Who is it you pattern after? Where are they taking you? This is serious.
Judy says I become my favorite preacher of the moment and I do. I visit the churches of preachers I like, get their audio tapes, videos, and CDs. I have met as many of them as I could. I pattern myself, and sometimes our church, after their example. We always adjust it to work for us because we know we are unique, but much of what we do here at Life Gate is from what I learned from great men of God and great churches. I want to leave something here.
The Bible tells us about the prophet Elisha who patterned himself after the prophet Elijah. Elisha was so much like Elijah theologians refer to them as the twin prophets. They did the same miracles. However, Elisha did twice as many miracles as did Elijah. In fact, except for Moses, Elisha did more miracles than did any Old Testament prophet. Why was Elisha so powerful and able to leave this legacy here? It was because he PATTERNED and FOLLOWED THE EXAMPLE of the correct person. This is what should happen when we follow the correct example and pattern ourselves correctly.
The past will not stop us when we pattern after successful people. We will realize they hit tough spots too, but kept going. From whom do you pattern? What is it you want to LEAVE HERE? Do you want to be a Bill Gates or a Sam Walton? Then you will need to do what Bill Gates and Sam Walton did. You will need to pattern and follow the example.
STOP LOOKING BACK
No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: FORGETTING THE PAST AND LOOKING FORWARD TO WHAT LIES AHEAD [Philippians 3:13]
Looking back is deadly. The Bible tells us about Lot’s wife.
As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! DON’T LOOK BACK, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” But LOT’S WIFE LOOKED BACK, and she became a pillar of salt. [Genesis 19:17, 26]
God delivered Lot’s family from their old life and from the destruction of Sodom. He delivered you from your old life and destruction also. The angels gave specific instructions to not look back. However, Lot’s wife did look back and she became a pillar of salt. Looking back can stop you and destroy your life’s purpose. The salt pillar killed any life around it. Looking back will not only affect you. It will stop the growth and progress of anyone around you. STOP LOOKING BACK.
We also need to be cautious about looking back at past triumphs. Past victories and success can become a tombstone. What I mean is many people want to live on past triumphs and past victories. Earlier I mentioned Bill Gates of Microsoft who is the richest man in the world. I also mentioned Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart. Neither of them lived on past victories. Even after Sam Walton’s death, Wal-Mart continues to build stores. He did not allow the past to be his salt pillar or his tombstone. Bill Gates and Microsoft are constantly coming up with new computer innovations. Looking back at the past will remove your appetite for the future.
We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now WE HAVE LOST OUR APPETITE; we never see anything but this manna!” [Numbers 11:5-6]
God delivered the children of Israel and had a wonderful future planned for them. It was a land flowing with milk and honey. Their focus on the past totally stopped their experiencing the future. Every single one of those people who focused on the past died in the wilderness. On the other hand, Joshua and Caleb refused to look back and developed an appetite for the future. Referring to the giants they would encounter, they said, “they are bread for us” (Num 14:9). They did what Paul said to do. They knew God had saved them for a reason and wanted them to do something. They refused to pattern after the wrong people. They left something here. Looking back is deadly.
Do not be a cucumber, melon, leek, onion, and garlic Christ follower today. Don’t become a pillar of salt. God did not deliver you from your past for it to hold you back. Develop an appetite for the future. Focus forward and capture your promised land. Leave something here that matters.
SUCCESS AFTER FAILURE. The Bible tells us a story about Joshua and a battle with a Canaanite city named Ai. Joshua lost the battle, but refused to allow this loss to stop him from leaving something here. Joshua refused to look back. He realized God had saved him to do something. Joshua kept fighting until he won the conflict and left something here that mattered.
We all have failures and mess-ups in our pasts. Some of you have experienced a failed marriage, or a failed business, or failed at a job, or school. I want to tell you God is not done with you. The only thing that can stop you is you. Jack Lemmon said, “Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the fear of failure.” William Durant, the founder of General Motors, said, “Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you are going to do now and do it.” Harvey Mackay, a business motivational speaker, said, “Failure is an attitude, not an outcome.” Mickey Rooney said, “You always pass failure on the way to success.”
Your past was only steps to your future. I want to end with a story about my dad. Daddy’s temperament was the opposite of my temperament. Dad drove slowly. In fact, dad did everything slowly. Once Judy was hurrying to get to a sale before she had to be at work and ran into this long line of slow traffic for as far as she could see. She said, “Who in the world is driving so slowly?” Finally, the traffic got to a curve where she could see ahead and, sure enough, it was my dad. My uncle Herb was in the truck with dad once when traffic backed up behind daddy. He said, “Delbert, there is a long line of cars behind you.” Dad said, “Herb, you don’t have to worry about the cars behind you. You just need to watch those ahead of you.”
This is what I want to tell you today. People will want to point you at those things behind you. Those things cannot hurt you. Realize God saved you for a reason and has something he wants you to do. Train yourself to do something great. Pattern yourself after great examples. Be like Elisha and do twice what your parents did. STOP LOOKING BACK. God did not save you to become a pillar of salt, or to die in your wilderness. Do not focus on the cucumbers, melon, leeks, onions, and garlic of the past. Develop an appetite for the future. It is flowing with milk and honey. STOP LOOKING BACK is the first step if you WANT TO LEAVE SOMETHING HERE.
Other Related Sermons:
Living the Life, It’s Ok To Fail, By Dan Miller http://www.cbn.com/LivingTheLife/Features/DanMiller/oktofail.asp