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Dear COA Family,

All of us have gone through many experiences in our lives. Those of us who are older would have even more.

Some of them are positive. We remember with fondness the achievements we have gotten. They may be an academic award, an athletic medal, or a certificate of attainment for a musical, artistic or sporting skill. These achievements are able to give us great confidence for our future.

However, other experiences may not be so positive. We may remember with fear and sadness the scoldings, insults and rejections when we tried to do something for the first time. Or the disappointment when we failed to make the grade. These have the effect of keeping us from trying out something new.

Yet the Apostle Paul counsels us to leave our past experiences behind in order to achieve God’s future for us.

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” Philippians 3:14.

And of the two – past failures and past successes – it is ironically the successes that may hinder us more! The reason is simple: we may be so enamoured by our successes that we live in past glories. We remember and reminisce the times when we were successful, respected and strong. It puffs us up with pride so that we fail to trust God for what he has in store for us.

This was exactly what the Apostle Paul tried to leave behind.

Although he was such an eminent scholar of Judaism and was known and respected for his zealousness, he counted his past pedigree and achievements as rubbish. He continually forgot all the past glories to press on to what was ahead.

And then he says that everyone who is mature should have this perspective in mind.

Church, we too need to have this perspective. God has done wonderful things in our past and we thank him for them, but we also need to commit them in his hand. Our past successes are not the foundation of our faith. Only the Holy Spirit will lead us to fresh new pastures and new ways of trusting in God. And only then will we become mature and be fully fruitful and effective in what we do.

God bless,

Revd Ian