We Can’t Go BackSeries: Pause. James Dewhurst May 31, 2020
We Can’t Go Back
As we begin taking steps towards re-entering what has long been labeled the “rat race” of normal life, we have an incredible opportunity in front of us. You can easily count on one hand the number of times in life when you or I will be gifted seasons of reflection and pause, not to mention, getting mailed a stimulus check to boot. In my humble estimation, I believe the most foolish thing any of us could do as we exit this forced pause, is to rush back into life as it was, and re-create the same chaos, stress, and imbalance we were fighting to maintain before this all began. We can’t go backward!!!
Phrases like: second chances, righting former wrongs, rewriting history, reset, a new day and a blank slate are flashing like neon signs. We don’t get moments like this every day!
What can we not afford to repeat?
What must we never go back to doing again?
> What has this season taught us about the importance of balance?
> What has this season taught us about the blessing of our marriages?
> What has this season taught us about the value of our children and families?
> What has this season taught us about making time to grow personally and spiritually?
If we don’t identify what we’ve learned, we are doomed to repeat the same cycle!
11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly. (ESV)
The Bible defines a Fool as a person who keeps repeating the same old mistakes!
The Hebrew word for fool used in Proverbs 26:11 is Chesil and means, stupid, or silly!
SO, A FOOL RETURNING TO HIS FOLLY – Speaks of one who does not learn from their experiences and mistakes, and continues to return to old familiar ways. While their ways may even disgust them, the fool will eventually return to their old ways. This passage demonstrates that when destructive behavior continues to be repeated, there was never a real change of heart in the one who continues returning to yesterday.
A wise person once said – “History repeats itself endlessly for those who are unwilling to learn from their past.”
Unknown person – “Most people would learn from their mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them.”
Toby Mac – “Please don’t ever go back to things you had to pray your way out of.”
Unknown author – “A mistake repeated more than once is a decision!”
16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, (ESV)
Today is Pentecost Sunday! Recognized by both Catholics and Protestants all over the world, Pentecost celebrates the power of the Holy Spirit who fell upon the apostles in Acts 2, not only to birth the N.T. church, but to give us the power to live in victory!
When the Holy Spirit entered the Apostles, he broke cycles that had existed for years!
Paul told us to stop filling up on substances that only numb us from our past, and start filling up on the power that will keep us from returning to our past!
Paul pleads with believers to make the most of their lives by turning to God’s power!
We have all heard the phrase, “Opportunity only knocks once”. I’m not sure that is true, but I do know that opportunity doesn’t knock forever, and its window will close!
The Greek word for “Opportunity” in these verses is Kairos and means: a fixed or definitive period of time. The church we have an opportunity we must make the most of!
Paul’s challenge to Make the most of every opportunity means to Redeem the Time!
This re-set is an opportunity for each of us to redeem any time we may have lost!
The most precious commodity we have in this life is time. We can’t afford to waste it!
Benjamin Franklin said: “Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for it is the stuff life is made of.”
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 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, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (ESV)
Paul tells us that the reason we must move on is because God has a future for us!
We don’t have to be perfect to press on, we just need to be willing to try!
Paul declared that he was a fallen man who was simply fighting for a greater future!
The reason we can’t ever go backward is that God has so much planned forward!
We have to willingly turn our back on who we were yesterday and completely reject it!
You may be surprised to learn the word repentance in the Greek New Testament simply means to turn around.
It was a military term that described a soldier marching in one direction and then doing an about-face. And when it’s used in a spiritual sense, it means to change your mind. The Gr. word metanoia, literally means “to change the mind.” Repentance fundamentally means to change your mind about something. It has to do with the way you think. You’ve been thinking one way, but now you think the opposite way. That’s repentance — the changing of the mind and the changing of directions!
A wise person once noted – “It’s difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.”
Matthew 3:8 “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
Changing for 3 months and going right back to unhealthy patterns isn’t change!
One of the greatest tricks of the enemy is to convince us we’ve wasted too much time and made too big of a mess to ever move on.
While the four different soils mentioned by Jesus in this parable represent different people’s heart conditions, I also believe they represent our heart conditions at different seasons in our own lives.
So many of us can get discouraged over the hard, rocky, and thorny seasons of life, but we all have them. The temptation whenever we look at past failure is to quit!
But this parable tells us something incredible about the nature of God. We can miss, miss and miss again, but when we finally get it, God will multiply his fruit in us!
God has 30, 60, and 100 fold multiplied blessings in the future, waiting for us!!!
But hear me – God can’t redeem what we won’t release!
If we allow Him, God can multiply good decisions after bad seasons, and redeem years that have been lost!
> There is no sin too great for God’s Grace!
> There is no habit too big for God’s Healing!
> There is no label too strong for God’s Love!
> There is no past too broken for God’s Redemption!
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (ESV)
I want to close today with 2 action steps to guard us all against going backward:
1. Learn from your yesterday, but don’t dwell on it!
Dwelling on the past only keeps us from doing something in the present!
Paul used Israel’s history and past mistakes as a teaching tool to warn the New Testament Christians in Corinth: 1 Corinthians 10:4-6 “They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now, these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.”
We must embrace what we’ve learned in this season and carry it into our future!
2. The shift from finger-pointing to personal responsibility!
When God came to Adam and Eve in the Garden after they sinned, he asked them one question in Genesis 3:13, “What have you done?” He didn’t ask what anyone else did!
A pastor friend arrived late one night at the hospital after two teenagers died in a tragic accident. Their emotional teenage friends asked, “How could God allow this?” The pastor answered honestly, “God didn’t consume the substances or drive the car.”
We have developed an elaborate excuse system in America that keeps us returning to our past. We blame Satan, society, genetics, family, and even God, for our own choices.
While we can’t control what has happened to us, we can control our attitude and actions in response, and we can choose, by the grace of God, to rise above it all!