Summary: Philippians is commonly called the "Book of Joy". But Paul presents several thieves that try to rob us of our joy. The third thief: "Your Past."
DON’T ALLOW YOUR PAST TO ROB YOUR JOY
A. I Timothy 1:12-16 (READ and COMMENT)
In 1955, the New York Yankees chose 22 year-old John Malangone as the probable REPLACEMENT for VETERAN catcher Yogi Berra. Though he could THROW a BALL from HOME PLATE and HIT the left field FENCE 368 feet away with a SOLID POP and had consistently BATTED over 300 through the MINOR LEAGUES, John had a HANDICAP he couldn’t overcome--his PAST.
When John was five-years-old his BEST FRIEND was his Uncle Orlando, age seven. The two were INSEPARABLE. One day John, Orlando, and some other boys made a makeshift JAVELIN out of a BROOM HANDLE and on old UMBRELLA SPOKE. A pile of SAND was the TARGET. When John’s turn came, he HURLED the JAVELIN farther than anyone thought he could. It sailed past the SAND PILE and STRUCK his Uncle Orlando in the HEAD.
This HORRID scene HAUNTED John’s every waking moment and often TORTURED him through his DREAMS at night, for John believed he had MURDERED his Uncle Orlando. Although YEARS had PAST, that BELIEF was LITERALLY driving him CRAZY. After repeated STINTS in the MINOR LEAGUES, John was finally CUT from the Yankees in 1959. For the next 32 years, John remained a PRISONER of his PAST. He DRANK heavily to FORGET.
B. Our PAST can THREATEN our JOY if we allow it.
1. For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been taking at look at the THIEVES THAT TRY TO ROB US OF OUR JOY from the book of Philippians.
2. We’ve already looked at two of the THIEVES: CIRCUMSTANCES and PEOPLE.
The REAL THIEF behind it all is the DEVIL. Satan is a JOY STEALER! He doesn’t want the WORLD to know that Christians POSSESS a JOY that no one else has claim to. So in an attempt to ROB us of our JOY Satan will use anything in his POWER, including our PAST.
C. Philippians 3:13- “One thing I do, is FORGET the PAST and PRESS on to what’s AHEAD.”
That’s what John Malangone did. In 1991, with the help of friend Ron Weiss, John was finally able to FACE his PAST. He spoke of the ACCIDENT for the first time with his 80 year-old mother. He looked up the DEATH CERTIFICATE and read the medical examiner’s REPORT: the contributing cause of death was “ACCIDENTAL.” A week later, John told Ron, “I wanna play BALL with a clear mind, for the first time in my life.” The two joined a New Jersey LEAGUE for men over 40. John’s strong ARM and ACCURACY won him a job as a PITCHER. In 1994, they were playing in the Roy Hobbs World Series. John won two games on the MOUND and singled home Ron for the RUN that won their team the NATIONAL TITLE.
1. John learned the SECRET of FORGETTING and PRESSING ON that the apostle Paul PERFECTED.
We just read where Paul said he was once a
“BLASPHEMER, PERSECUTOR, and VIOLENT MAN.” He HATED the CHURCH of Jesus Christ with a PASSION, and did everything he could to DESTROY it--even TORTURE Christians forcing them to BLASPHEME the name of Christ.
2. After becoming a Christian himself, Paul could have ALLOWED his violent PAST to ROB his JOY, but instead he knew that by the GRACE of God his PAST was FORGIVEN and FORGOTTEN.
If you could go back in TIME, are there some things that you would CHANGE—things that you would DO DIFFERENTLY? There are things in my PAST that make me CRINGE when I think about them. I wish they never happened, but they did. Isn’t that TRUE of your PAST as well? It was certainly TRUE of the apostle Paul. However, he learned to LET GO of the PAST and LIVE for Christ TODAY, and looked FORWARD to his VICTORY in the FUTURE.
I. THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS IN OUR PAST THAT CAN ROB US OF OUR JOY
A. REGRETTABLE EVENTS
1. These can be relatively MINOR EVENTS that can THREATEN our JOY--at least at the time.
I REGRET wrestling with the high school and college boys at Camp Letoli, a Christian camp in North Texas, during the summer of 1988. They were DETERMINED to make me and two other COUNSELORS (who also happened to be PREACHERS) eat SHAVING CREAM. One of the preachers, Bob Conkling, had TORMENTED them all week. So late FRIDAY night was PAY-BACK time. It was all in GOOD FUN -- I THINK.
While WRESTLING with one of the BOYS, he and I ROLLED down this HILL. (He was the SMALLEST one of the BUNCH, so I knew I could TAKE him.) As I started RUNNING back up the HILL, another young man who played FOOTBALL in College, TACKLED me from the side. As soon as he hit me my right KNEE went POP!