Word Alive! © 2021 Winter Series
You Can Begin Again!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 16 Feb., 2021
Max Lucado, “Begin Again” Lesson 4, (Chap. 4)
Devotional Time: “Begin Again” (pp. 23-29)
Keep Looking Ahead – The scriptures are replete with narratives and examples, which encourage the faithful to look ahead. The things we seek to obtain in the future, are predicated on how we handle what is presently before us. Going forward requires relinquishing some things that have formed the circumstances of our past (cf. Philippians 3:13, NLT). The contrast in the Apostle Paul’s language gives us a clue as to how we move forward in life: forgetting, and looking forward. The word “forgetting” is translated from a Greek word, epilanthanomai (ep-ee-lan-than-om-ahee),which means “to release out of the mind.” This involves a person making a conscious decision to move beyond an emotional attachment to a past experience. To “forget” in the sense Paul is speaking does not mean to erase the past, but a refusal to be held back because of past events. In his devotional book, Begin Again, pastor and author Max Lucado views Paul’s admonition this way: “Begin again. Rise up and step out. Fresh starts require a determined first step. Even the Apostle Paul had to make this choice. “I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal (Phil. 3:13-14, Phillips).” The “kingdom standard” Jesus has given His followers is to relinquish any and all past preoccupations; for this is the prerequisite to follow the life and path He has set before us (cf. Luke 9:62, NLT). Peter and the other disciples were frustrated because, after much effort, they failed in their fishing expedition. In the narrative, the human tendency to “give up” when our attempts fall short is obvious. Jesus, after having entered the fishing boat the disciples were in, asked Peter to pull up their nets and position them on the opposite side of the boat. Peter conceded to doing this, it seems, only to appease Jesus. After catching more fish than they had ever seen before, Peter realized his failure to see things from a new perspective. It was a “new” approach that made the difference! Peter learned a profound lesson about starting the process anew (cf. Luke 5:4-7, NLT). Peter’s realization brought a sense of repentance for his failure to think anew. Jesus, realizing Peter had learned an important lesson, prophesied Peter’s future as a great apostle, who would lead many people to faith in Christ (cf. Luke 5:8; 10b, NLT). The teaching of Jesus should be apparent to us. We must not give up, but keep viewing the road ahead!
Follow God’s Plan – There is no forward movement without a plan. Inherent in every plan is a purpose. The scripture teaches us, we can only understand God’s purpose for our lives through the wisdom He permits us to attain (cf. Proverbs 19:20-21, NLT). God has given us the freedom to devise our own plans; however, our plans are futile if they don’t cohere to God’s will for us (cf. Proverbs 16:1,9, NLT). When King David had reached his mature years, he reflected on the fact that every detail of our lives is known by God. Although we, as humans, are prone to commit errors, if we are faithful to God, and obey His teachings, we will experience God’s perpetual care (cf. Psalm 37:23-24, NLT). Joshua was faithful to God, but he failed initially in attempting to defeat the King of Ai and his army. The disobedience of one of Israel’s clans, and a failure to follow God’s instructions brought about defeat (cf. Joshua 7:10-12, NLT). After Joshua led the Israelites to repent, he followed God’s plan and did not depend on the inaccurate advice of others. It was in listening to God, that Joshua and Israel experienced victory (cf. Joshua 8:18-19, NLT)! Max Lucado describes clearly the contrast between Joshua’s initial failure, and his new victory: “Contrast this [new] attack with the first one. In the first, he stayed home. In the second, he led the way. The first involved a small unit. The second involved many more men. The first attack involved no tactics. The second was strategic… The point: God gave Joshua a new plan: Begin again, my way. When he followed God’s strategy, victory happened.” It is often the result of desperate situations that a person comes to realize a need for change. The story of the son who left home and became enamored with a profligate life, is an example of the turning point that comes to a person who realizes that life must begin anew (cf. Luke 15;16-19, NLT). Max Lucado shares this advice: “Don’t spend another minute in the pigpen. It’s time to rise up. Don’t miss your opportunity by inaction. It’s time to step out. God has not forgotten you. Keep your head up. You never know what good awaits you. “You can, begin again!
What We Believe
To begin anew, we must look ahead and follow God’s plan!
1. We can’t erase the past, but we can move beyond it!
2. We must seek God’s purpose, to begin again!
Philippians 3:13, NLT
“No. dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,but I focus on this one thing:forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.”
Luke 9:62 NLT
“But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the kingdom.”
Luke 5:4-7, NLT
“When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon,“Now go where it is deeper,and let down your nets to catch some fish.” “Master,”Simon replied, “we worked hard all night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, “I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear. A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.”
Luke 5:8;10b, NLT
“When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh. Lord, please leave me – I’m too much of a sinner to be around you…” Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people…”
Proverbs 19:20-21, NLT
“Get all the advice and the instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. You can make many plans,but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”
Proverbs 16:1, 9, NLT
“We can make our own plans,but the Lord gives the right answer…We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”
Psalm 37:23-24 NLT
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”
Joshua 8:18-19, NLT
Then the Lord said to Joshua,“Point the spear in your hand toward Ai, for I will hand the town over to you.” Joshua did as he was commanded. As soon as Joshua gave the signal, all the men in ambush jumped up from their position and poured into the town. They quickly captured it and set it on fire.”
Luke 15:16-19, NLT
“The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, “At home event he hired servants have food enough to spare and here I am dying of hunger. I will go home to my father and say,“Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called