Read: Philippians 3:13-14; Exodus 33:12-15

Life is compared to a race or athletic competition in many places in scripture. In this passage, Paul says that forgetting what is behind is a prerequisite to pressing in to finish the race so he might receive the heavenly prize Jesus Christ has prepared for him.

  • What is the biggest obstacle in your life that would prevent you from pressing in to reach the end of the race? Are you tempted to take a water break – like for a few years?
  • I ran in two half marathons with a good friend of mine. Thirteen plus miles is grueling and many times along the way I would have just clapped it out except for one thing: my companion. She kept me moving. She was an experienced runner and knew how easily it would be for me to give up.
    • Who is your running companion? Do you have someone you can share the highs and lows with? Someone who will keep you going when you just want to sit down for a little bit.
  • In the Exodus reading, Moses was also concerned about who his traveling companion would be on the journey into the Promised Land. Notice Moses’ boldness in verse 13.
    • Can you be that bold and open before Jesus?
  • Read again Moses’ declaration in verse 15.
    • Do you believe that it is the presence of God in our lives that sets us apart from the world around us?
    • Read Jesus’ words about being set apart in John 13:35. What will prove to the world that we are his disciples?

Truth is, we can’t do this journey alone. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be our constant companion. Just as Moses said he wasn’t going one step without the presence of God going with him, we need the presence of God so we can press in and finish well.

Prayer:

Father, I want to know your ways and understand you more fully. I need you to walk this journey with me. There is nothing that sets me apart as your child except the Spirit of God in my life. Please go before me in everything. Because of Jesus, Amen.

Read: Philippians 3:12-13; Psalm 103:7-13; Jeremiah 31:33-34

  • Paul admits he isn’t where he wants to be in his experience with Jesus. But he says he FORGETS what is behind…
    • Do you have trouble forgetting? What in your life feels impossible to let go of and forget?
  • In your journal (or mark in your Bible) list the characteristics of God found in Psalm 103.
    • I am overwhelmed by God’s undeserved goodness to me. What characteristic do you regularly experience in your relationship with God? What would you like to experience more often?
    • I am keenly aware that the Father image of God is very difficult for some people. Your own father may have been absent, aloof or abusive. My prayer is that God will show himself to be your loving Father in heaven as you open your heart to him.
  • Read Psalm 103:12 and Jeremiah 31:34 again. What does God do with our sins?
    • If God forgets our wrongdoings, the ways we miss the mark – don’t you think it’s about time you did the same thing?

As you begin the new year, I encourage you to take inventory. What have you been holding on to relentlessly because it just doesn’t seem responsible to let it go? I believe it’s time. There might be some restitution or confession to make, but do it! And then forget what is behind so you can really start living!

Prayer:

Father, I am so tired of carrying this load of regret and shame. I want to lay it down at your feet. Show me what it means to forget what is behind so that I can really press into the life you want for me. Because of Jesus, Amen.

Thanks for joining me on this journey. In these daily devotionals I won’t include the text of the scripture passages but they are linked to the You Version Bible to make them easy to access if you are on the go. Get cozy, grab a cup of coffee -or tea – your Bible (print copy or electronic) and a journal if that’s your thing. Here we go!

Read: Philippians 3:5-9

Paul lists the accomplishments he believed made him right with God. In his final conclusion he said, “for his sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage…” He knew that nothing he had done would ever make him right with God.

  • What do you count on to make you right with God? Have you ever felt like your achievements or your goodness forces God’s hand to provide for you? Bless you? Protect you?
  • How does working to be acceptable feel? Are you ready for something easier?
  • What does this passage teach us about how we are made righteous?

Read: Daniel 3:16-18

  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are going to be thrown into the fiery furnace because they wouldn’t bow down to the statue of Nebuchadnezzar. Even after the king rants and raves and fires up the furnace seven times hotter than usual, the men do not back down. They said, “He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you…we will never serve your gods! 
  • Have you ever been in a place where you believed God would surely act a certain way? Did he? How did you respond?
  • How would your life be different if you approached life in an open-handed way like these three men?

Prayer:

Thank you, Jesus, that I am made right with you through faith. I don’t have to do anything at all. I really want to know you more. Help me to hear your voice in the scripture I read and to listen because I really want to look more like you every day. Amen! 

Every day we reach for food and drink that provide nutrition for our physical bodies. A few days may pass by choice or by force when we don’t feed our bodies, but very few of us allow even hours, let alone days, to pass without eating.

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When I get to this time of year I become a bit introspective. I don’t make resolutions or promise myself that “this is the year…” I haven’t seen many resolutions make it to January 31 let alone an entire year. (Although one year my daughter and I made a commitment to forego drinking soda for an entire year. And we did it. As a result, I rarely drink pop now.)

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Here it is Christmas Day. How are you feeling as you roll over and greet the day? Do you anticipate planned holiday events or is there a part of you that dreads your feet hitting the floor to begin the rituals of the holiday? Will you be alone or is your day filled with savored traditions that fill your heart with joy?

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I have five sisters. In the last six months I have enjoyed sharing time with each one of them in my home away from home in Florida. We explored the beaches, hunted for shark’s teeth, watched movies, enjoyed dinner out, quilted, sewed, shopped and generally had a great time. We share the same parents who were married for almost 60 years. We lived in the same house on the farm our entire lives. We look alike, sound alike, act alike. We are similar in so many ways! 

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“You are ruining my life!” (Please read in a whiny, crying voice – maybe even with some exaggerated eye rolling while throwing head back.) Have you ever said that to anyone? Maybe your parents? Maybe God? My daughter said that to me during the first week of kindergarten because I said she had to go to bed earlier than she wanted. 

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Today is the sixth day of Advent. As we approach Christmas and the celebration of Jesus’ birth, what is your focus? Are you baking and preparing special treats for your family and friends? Maybe you are wrapping gifts, listening to holiday music and drinking hot chocolate? Or perhaps you are just getting started with holiday shopping? Or maybe you don’t do Christmas? 

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Do I matter? Am I making a difference? These are questions we all wrestle with at one time or another. The innate need to be significant and live with purpose is something we can’t ignore. It tolls within us like the midnight bell…do I still have time? Has the opportunity passed me by?  

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