Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC 

Philippians 3:13-15
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.

Our family has picked up an old card game and started playing it together, it’s called UNO. If you’ve ever played UNO you know that it is one of the most frustrating card games ever known to man (in my humble but accurate opinion, lol!). About the time you get down to just a few cards the person beside you throws down one of those “plus 2” or “plus 4” cards and you have to start all over. It seems like every time I run out of a certain color card I have to draw 10 more before I get to the color I need. Possibly the most frustrating piece of the entire game is the “swap hands” card. Yes, you read that right, if someone else gets this card they can actually lay it down and if you’re next in the rotation you have to literally give them your cards and take theirs. This is totally diabolical game play! I refuse to swap hands with one of my kids. How is it fair that they can play foolishly the entire game but with that one card I become the recipient of their foolishness?!! 

In life sometimes we’d love to just swap hands with someone else, but this just isn’t possible. You can’t just give someone else your cards and take theirs. You have to play the hand you’ve been dealt or that you’ve accumulated through your own decision making. Paul was a persecutor of Christians, then Christ Jesus interrupted his life on that Damascus Road and changed him forever. Now everything he once called dear was rubbish compared to knowing Jesus. Although he had not mastered the Christian life yet, there was one thing the Lord had especially taught him… on. Pressing on means playing the cards you’ve been dealt. It means taking personal responsibility for your actions, bringing them to Christ, and continuing on to obey the Lord. He says that this is mature thinking. 

Mature thinking is not blaming others for my lot in life, or blaming God for my lack of faith. Mature thinking is taking the cards you’ve been dealt and making the most of them for the glory of God. It’s recognizing that somehow Jesus is in the cards and He will get glory if I will just get out of the way and let Him lead. As we start this new year I encourage you to play the cards for Jesus. Press on. Take personal responsibility for your faith and apply what He says. Just acknowledge your sinfulness then press on to obedience. God is not to blame, nor is anyone else, for our lack of commitment, and He has given us everything we need by His grace to glorify Him. So, this year, let’s be mature in our thinking. Forget what lies behind because the past doesn’t define you. Look to the future because the best is always yet to come for the Child of God. Then press on. Pray, obey, give, serve, and go make disciples. It’s amazing how the cards turn out when we just give them to Jesus! 

Father God, thank you for saving me. I’m grateful for all You have done, and I know You have given me all I need to obey You. I take personal responsibility for my own actions, and I press on for Your glory. Help me fight the good fight of faith. In Jesus name, amen. 

Philippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.