A Fresh Start to a New Year (Philippians 3:12-14)
Philippians 3:12-14, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
New Year's Day marks a new beginning. Today is the first day of 2023. Undoubtedly, you've made a list of things you'd like to do this year that you didn't do last year. If you’re like me, setting goals is usually not the problem. In fact, most of us are good at it. Reaching our goals, however, is a different story. How often do we promise to do something and then let it slide into oblivion?
At the beginning of the new year, you eagerly set goals to reach forward for Christ in multiple areas. Both through your goals and the early action steps you have taken, you stretched forward. Desire is the driving force of a man's soul. A man will live for the thing he desires. Paul understood that the Lord Jesus wanted to use him and he consistently pursued the Lord and His will for his life. Apprehended means to take eagerly, seize, possess, over take. Paul had a dissatisfaction with being average, or resting in what he had already done. “God’s got a purpose for your life!” Paul knew that the Lord had a purpose for his life and he was actively and consistently pursuing that purpose. The Lord Jesus has saved us to use us and be glorified through us. Are you seeking to apprehend that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of for you? In eternity, you will never regret that you served the Lord faithfully!
Paul’s determination is seen in the words, this one thing I do. He was serious about not allowing the past to hinder his present. One of the Christians biggest problems is right here—dwelling on the past. Paul wasted no time on the past. He was running the race for Christ. Paul would not focus on the past. He was looking ahead and determined to stay focused on Christ. You cannot run a race while looking backward. Life is full of ups and downs; times of encouragement and times of discouragement. Everyone can look back on their lives and wish that they could do some things over, things that they wish they could change, and things that they regret that ever happened. Too many Christians are still stuck in the past. We cannot be successful, nor victorious, in the Christian life if we are focused on the failures, disappointments and heartaches.
The words reaching forth picture a runner stretching out and reaching forward to the finish line. Paul was not just getting by; he was putting his all into the race. Paul’s goal in life was to accomplish the purpose for which the Lord Jesus had saved him. A church can have every desire in the world to reach people with the Gospel, and it can even set goals to do so. But these steps forward will not consistently cover new ground for Christ without the support of individual members to move forward in their spirit, stand, and stewardship. Determine at this moment to reach forward for Christ. Set goals. Look forward with Spirit-filled ambition to make a difference for the cause of Christ.
Questions to Consider:
Points to Ponder:
Prayer: Father, I dedicate myself to You anew. Cleanse me and strengthen me. Guide me, guard me, and give me wisdom to navigate the challenges that will arise. Fill me with the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Bear fruit that remains through me and our church family. Help me to trust You in, for all things. Help me to rightly steward my mind, my marriage, my money, and my ministry in view of standing before You and giving an account one day soon. In Jesus name, Amen.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.