Look Ahead to Get Ahead
It has been one year since my family and I made the biggest change in our family life by moving from Burke, VA to Douglasville,
GA, a suburb of Atlanta.  God gave us the vision (or instruction) to move at a time when by many people's account we were
enjoying a near perfect life.  We had a nice home. We had a host of friends that we had made over 30 years.  My husband was
enjoying retirement and I was fulfilled with my management consulting practice and work as an adjunct professor. Pearl of Wisdom
Ministry workshops were well attended and local churches were asking me to teach.  Further, I was content with my church and
happily working in several ministries.  Could life get any better for the Smith?  We did not think so and had decided that we would
spend the rest of our days in Virginia.

However, when God said move we eagerly said yes, believing He had even more in store for us in Atlanta.  We now have a more
beautiful home, and it is mortgage free.  We have many new friends. We have joined a church where we are enjoying a new
worship experience. Further, we now live so much closer to both sides of the family that we can be with them on holidays or for an
impromptu Friday night fish fry.  My consulting practice continues to prosper and is now focused on training, which is a transition
I desired.  I am teaching at a local college and considering joining the faculty of two additional schools. I am active in a local
community service organization and was recently selected to participate in a prestigious Douglas County leadership program. Pearl
of Wisdom Ministry is thriving as well.  I am reaching a broader audience who is blessed by the teaching.  I am holding workshops
in a beautiful facility that God has provided free of charge!  I have expanded the ministry to include a book club. Further, I am now
able to devote more time to writing lessons for the website.   Yes, life can get better!!

During the months leading to the move God repeatedly spoke to me the message he gave the prophet Isaiah for the Israelites,
"Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth;
shall ye not know it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert (
Isaiah 43:18-19). Yes, God had more in
store for the Smiths. However, we had to be willing to leave the familiar and trust Him to bring it to pass.

In the passage from Isaiah, God had promised to deliver Israel from Babylonia captivity.  Many of the Israelites remembered the
first exodus in which God had parted the Red Sea so they could cross it, and then He drowned the Egyptian Army that was chasing
them.  No doubt some questioned whether God could pull off another feat that miraculous.  However, God instructed the Israelites
to forget that escape because the next exodus would be even greater!

Unfortunately, many believers are so complacent with their current situation that they cannot envision the future blessings God has
for them.  Focusing too much on our current situation, whether good or bad, can cause us to not look ahead for the greater vision
God has in store.   

Paul was well aware of this. He knew that he was considered a spiritual giant to the Philippians.  However, he told them that he did
not focus on his accomplishments because he was not yet where God wanted him to be.  Hence, he was looking ahead to reaching
the state of sanctification, which he prized (
Philippians 3:13-14).

The story of the rich young man in
Mark 10:17-23 illustrates what can happen when we are so fixated on our present state we lose
sight of future blessings.  The young man wanted eternal life and asked Jesus what he needed to do to achieve it.  When Jesus told
him to sell all that he owned and give the money to the poor the young man went away sad.  Although he already had been blessed
with "great possessions" he could not envision receiving more as a result of giving.  It appears he doubted the scripture that says
that if we give God will give us "pressed down, shaken together, and running over"
(Luke 6:38)!

In Genesis 17:17-18 we see another example of someone who put more trust in the present than the future. God told Abraham that
He would establish His covenant with a son he and Sarah would have. Abraham responded by falling on his face in laughter, and in
his heart he questioned God's ability to perform such a miracle.  You see, at that point Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was
90.  Upon recovering from his fit of laughter, Abraham proposed to God that He establish the covenant with Ishmael, the son he
already had by Hagar.  But God said, no, and insisted hat the covenant had to be with Isaac, the son to be born by Sarah.  God had a
plan for His people, but to fulfill it Abraham had to look past his current situation and trust God with the future.  

In His parting words to the apostle Jesus encouraged them to look ahead to the great work of ministry they would accomplish.  He
told them that they would do even greater works than they had seen Him perform because H was sending the Holy Spirit to help
them (
John 14:12).  The greater works referred to the world wide preaching of the gospel and its effect.  The day of Pentecost is a
prime example when about 3,000 people were converted based on one sermon preached by Peter (
Acts 2:41).

These stories illustrate the need for believers to look ahead to get ahead.  This principle applies to many areas of life.

It is a widely held business principle that companies cannot rest on their current success.  Instead, they must continually strive to
improve in order to meet the changing needs of their clients.  An advertisement for Accenture featuring Tiger Woods conveys this
message.  It shows how Tiger has reinvented his golf swing repeatedly over the years to maintain his leading edge.  Tiger  
recognizes that what works well for him today will not keep him at the top of the game.  So he constantly strives to improve.

Runners are keenly aware of the outcome of taking their eyes off of the goal line, which is ahead.  The seemingly harmless act of
looking back actually causes them to slow down.  Consequently, failing to look ahead will ultimately cause the runner to lose the

Christians individually and collectively are often less prosperous than God intends because they are complacent with their current
state.  Research reveals that effective churches are those that recognize the need to look ahead and strive to meet the needs of a
changing society. The Gospel does not change, but people do.  Sadly, many churches are content with the present and refuse to
embrace God's vision for their future.  One author wrote that the reason so many churches are not as effective as God desires is
because they operate from the song, "Give me that old time religion, it's good enough for me!"

On an individual level some Christians have not received the overflowing blessings God has for them because they refuse to tithe.  
However, God promises to bless those who do with so much they will not have room to receive it! Even though He said, "test me
on this," many are unwilling to accept the challenge.  Instead these "robbers" keep the tenth of their salary that God requires.
Apparently, they have more confidence in the adage, "A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush," than faith in God's promise.  

So what should you do when God calls you to look ahead personally, professionally, or in ministry?  As He told Isaiah to instruct
Israel (Isaiah 43:1-2), remember that God:

  • Has formed you
  • Redeemed you
  • Called you by his name
  • Is with you
  • Will protect you

In his book, "Reposition Yourself: Living a Life Without Limits," Bishop T. D. Jakes challenges believers to not become complacent
with their current success but to trust God for even greater achievements.  Paul told the church in Corinth, "Eye hath not seen, nor
ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (1 Corinthians 2:
9).  Do not limit God's possibilities to a short sighted view.  Look ahead to get ahead.  The best is yet to come!

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly
      abundantly above all that we ask
or think,
      according to the power that works in us.
                              Ephesians 3:20
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