Philipians 3:12-14 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (NKJV).
I love to write and teach. However, sometimes I get a letter or email from a reader that is worth so much more than a “lesson” I can produce with all its points, application and principles. I can write all day about changed lives, how the Bible can transform hearts, how God can help us to move on from the most traumatic of experiences. Or, I can share a story with you that a dozen “lessons” could not communicate as accurately, fully and with more power. A lesson is good; a real life example is better.
A reader sent me the following letter a couple of days ago. Why? Here are his own words:
“Not sure why I shared all that other than to give you a living example of what Philippians 3:12-14 can do to help peel away the excuses and exemptions.”
What he was referring to was a lesson I did in the past called “Exemption Time” that you can find here. In that lesson I wrote of excuses we make not to follow God or do His Will in our life. I wrote about how we should overcome our past and circumstances no matter what. This dear reader wrote about how HE DID OVERCOME his past to prove that God can work in ANY situation. He did not write me for recognition. I ASKED HIM if I could share his story with you.
Here is a living, breathing example of a life that overcame tremendous adversity that could have been an excuse to exempt himself from following God:
Good Morning Brent!
Your use of Philippians 3:12-14 caught my eye this morning. Those verses, and verses 7 to 11 are some of my very favorite passages. This was a great and timely lesson. Another similar excuse I have heard over the years is “I can’t help myself. That’s just the way I am.” I’ve probably even said it myself.
I grew up in a county-run children’s home and lived in and out of eight foster homes. I was sexually abused in the children’s home. I was physically beaten more times than I care to recall in several foster homes. I barely knew my father who was in and out of my life and never knew my mother growing up. She actually told me years later that if abortion had been legal in 1955, she would have aborted me. I have also endured the death of one of my children.
When people learn of my childhood they are sometimes stunned and ask how I turned out so “normal” and ask how much counseling have I had. It has provided me many great opportunities to share how the Lord is gracious and merciful and just how deep is His love for me.
It’s impossible for me to boast about how good I am because I have had many struggles in my life. I am a sinner. But I can boast in the Lord and give Him the glory because He was still able to plant seeds of faith in me through faithful Christians that came in and out of my life. I wanted to imitate those people and as I grew up. I realized through the Word that they were imitating Christ. The Lord’s deep wisdom from John 13:34-35 helped save my life.
Growing up, I often cried about my circumstances and sometimes wanted to die but it led me to prayer. Sometimes I was angry at God but it led me to His Word for answers. I have stumbled often in my walk with the Lord but I learned that I have no righteousness of my own and continually need the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus. Now that I am a mature Believer in His kingdom, I thank God for being with me through my past. I can see now how God drew me to salvation in Christ.
My past has prepared me for works of service and I am better equipped to deal with the emotional baggage that other folks hang on to when they look for excuses to not follow God (ie. “you don’t know how hard my life has been”). I am not a counselor but I can, with gentle understanding, point with obedience to God’s Word and remind folks about verses like Philippians 3:12-14.
Now I have a great loving relationship with my mother. I have shared the gospel with her several times and pray with her often. She has not responded to the Lord’s call yet, but I am hopeful. She can’t quite understand or accept how I can still love her after all I went through. I pray often that her heart opens enough to understand that is exactly what our heavenly Father’s grace and mercy is all about.
Not sure why I shared all that other than to give you a living example of what Philippians 3:12-14 can do to help peel away the excuses and exemptions people often use to not follow the Lord fully. Great lesson. Thanks.
In Christ, B. Adams
For his own reasons, he asked me to withhold his first name, but did say I could give you his email address: email@example.com I hope you’ll take a moment to write him if his story was a blessing to you.
What are your excuses today? Do you believe there is any reason, any past, any circumstances that God cannot use for His glory and your blessing?
Lord God, Help us to be honest with ourselves if we are using any excuse to exempt us from your commandments. Give us the strength to stop making excuses, to press on to the future and leave the past behind. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application: Examine your life and see if there are any areas of neglect or inconsistency that you have claimed exemption from because of your past, you’re paying, your family, your spouse or your church. If there are, determine that you will put the past behind you and press on toward the goal of becoming more like Christ and stop making excuses or exempting yourself from any part of God’s will for your life
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?