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Tuesday, March 15, 2022
This long recently plowed field along Landisville Road illustrates today's Scripture text!
"No Looking Back"
Message summary: Let us stay faithful and keep our hand to the plow today, not looking back but instead, "looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith".
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“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13). “Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Yesterday with temps nearing 60 degrees I rode my bike on the Lancaster Junction trail and then on the country roads near Manheim, PA. Along Landisville Road I passed the field in our lead photo. This is an Amish-owned farm and the field was plowed with a horse (or mule) team. It's amazing how straight the farmer kept the team for such a long distance.
Jesus often used agricultural allusions and illustrations to connect with his listeners. That's what would have been familiar and understandable to His original listeners. In many cases we must have some agricultural knowledge to understand them.
It takes a great deal of strength, concentration and perseverance to plow a field, especially using a team of horses. In plowing a field a farmer keeps the rows straight by focusing on an object in front of him, off in the distance (such as a tree). If the farmer started to plow the furrow, but kept looking behind to see how far he’d advanced, he would never be able to make straight rows.
Today's agricultural illustration teaches the vital importance of staying focused, persistent and faithful while also keeping a steady pace. “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Jesus used the illustration to emphasize the nature of genuine discipleship; counting the cost of following Him. In our Christian life, we keep our eyes on Jesus in front of us and never take our eyes off Him. Most importantly, we don’t look back! The apostle Paul seems to share this same concept in Philippians 3:13: “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”
Herbert Vander Lugt writes,
"When I was a boy on the farm, my dad would tell me, “You can’t plow a straight row if you look back.” You can test this for yourself by looking back as you walk through snow or along a sandy beach. Your tracks won’t be straight.
A good farmer doesn’t look back once he has put his hand to the plow. Jesus used this analogy to teach us that if we are to be His disciples we must make a complete break with all loyalties that hinder our relationship with Him.
Total allegiance to God is a principle that is rooted in the Old Testament. The Israelites, after being freed from slavery and fed by supernatural means, looked back longingly to the days when they enjoyed fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic in Egypt (Numbers 11:5-6). God was greatly displeased, and He judged His people. Their looking back indicated a lack of commitment to Him.
Today, people who cling to old sins and the worldly pleasures they enjoyed before becoming Christians cannot be loyal disciples of Jesus Christ. When we repent and believe in Him, we become citizens of a new kingdom. We are to break with the sins of the past. Discipleship means no looking back."
Many of you who personally know me have often heard me part company saying one of two phrases; “Stay faithful” or “Keep your hand to the plow.” I’ve done this for many, many years.
“Staying faithful.” What a quality. It’s not dramatic. It’s not sensational. But think with me for a few moments. Consider those who, over the long haul, have been a genuine and enduring blessing to you. Right at the top of the list of their good qualities is that of faithfulness, isn’t it? I’ll take faithfulness over flashiness any time. God said regarding Moses, "He is faithful in all my house". What a gratifying affirmation to receive from God Himself!
In Matthew’s gospel Jesus gives us a glimpse of what we’ll hear when we finish the race. “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23). And in the book of Revelation we have a recognition of His “called, chosen and faithful followers” (17:14).
Indeed let us stay faithful and keep our hand to the plow today, not looking back but instead, "looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith".
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, it is the desire of every earnest believer to remain faithful to You. The world often uses the expression, “Be true to yourself” intending that people stand up for what they believe in, but those of the world, by and large, stand for causes and beliefs that often conflict with the holy Word of God. We are also subject to error and our emotions cannot be trusted, so with absolute resolve we choose to be true to You, rather than self. Once we put our hands to the plow we choose to cultivate Christian values and Biblical principles. We fix our gaze on Jesus so that we don’t lose our way. We join with others of the Christian faith who hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, even as we spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"I Have Decided To Follow Jesus" Video Jadon Lavik
"I Won’t Go Back" Video Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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