We are at the turn of a new year. There is excitement for what the next year may bring and how the things from this past year might shape you going forward. There may also be uncertainty about moving forward and sadness over things that happened this past year. The new year with the holidays surrounding it mark a time in our calendar that it is good to pause, reflect, and recalibrate.
What do you most want in life? Have you ever seen someone that really wanted something and didn’t give up on going after it.
What do you want to achieve this next year? What are your spiritual goals? If you don’t have answers to these then you are probably going to fail in doing anything of significance.
“If you don't make any adjustments to your attitude, skills or habits in 2017, you are destined to be exactly the same person, with the same results, in 2018! Aim for more!” Richard Blackaby.
If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time. I want to read a passage that helps me tremendously and I think ahs tremendous relevance to us moving into a new year.
Read: Phil 3:7-14
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:7-14 ESV)
Three things for you to focus on in order to make the most of your next year.
● Gain Christ
V8 the main verb in this passage “gain.” That I might gain Christ and be found in him. This is what drove Paul. It is what should drive us. To gain is to profit through action. Going into business to gain money. You acquire something through work. The good and faithful servants (Matt 25) put their talents to use to gain more talent.
There are many goals and resolutions but what we want most should be to gain Christ - that is, to know Him and depend on His righteousness, not our own works. We want more of him. That’s the goal and also the reward.
This is an enduring goal. I was at a juice shop before Christmas and I have gotten to know the owner there. No one else was inside. I asked him where the Christmas rush was. He said they are juice store and there is no Christmas rush. “They will be back in January to get over the holidays and prepare of spring break.” That rush lasts 8 weeks and wears off. Their health kick is short lived because its not really a value.
We should value Christ because of the surpassing worth of knowing him. He is greater than anything else we could have.
All other things pale in comparison to what we have in Christ. He is the light of the world. The one who made all things. The one who judges the world. He is the image of God. He is the resurrection and life. He is the good shepherd who protects his people. In him we have a heavenly citizenship (v20). In Christ we are found to be righteous (v9). Paul considered everything else as rubbish, refuse, compared to what he had in Christ (3:8). The value of what we have in Christ far surpasses what the world offers to us.
Paul is so certain of what he has in Christ that he is willing to lose all things in order to gain Christ (v11). Playing Card. He is willing to suffer loss to get Christ (v8). He knew Christ but wanted more. It’s like the parable of the hidden treasure where a man finds treasure in a field and then goes to sell all he has to acquire it. We are gaining this treasure each and everyday, and that means we are losing and giving away our lives each and everyday. Coming to Christ means you realize how inept everything in life is to save you so your forsake it and trust in Christ. Every day after that is coming to greater realization of how ephemeral the world is and why Christ is so much better.
This is what we will be judged for. We are to gain Christ.
Gaining Christ means losing other things. Verse 8 (2x) with nouns signifying loss, damage, injury, it is used of the gain arising from shunning or escaping from the evil (where we say to spare oneself, be spared). If in a ship you have to push things aside throw them off in order to save yourself. You gain by losing. Push the world aside. Put it in it proper place.
Make gaining Christ the most important thing in your objective. If you do that you will be blessed in many ways. CS Lewis had a helpful way of stating the problem of elevating things above their appropriate status and the loss that comes with that. He said,
“The woman who makes a dog the centre her life loses, in the end, not only her human usefulness and dignity but even the proper pleasure of dog-keeping. ...You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first... . From which it would follow the question, What is the first thing? The only reply I can offer here is that if we do not know, then the first and only truly practical thing is to set about finding out.” CS Lewis
Look at your schedule, your time, your resources, your goal. How do those things say that Christ is greater than everything else.
● Don’t Be Too Content.
Don’t consider yourself to have taken hold it yet. Paul was not content with what he had gained of Christ. He wanted more. If you are alive you have work to do. Work to reach others. Work to study how to reach others. How do you relate? Not that I have already obtained. Paul presses on
If you are satisfied with current level of service and commitment.
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” (2Pe 1:1 ESV)
“Full stomaches make people complacent.” Nick Saban talking about poison of media praising his team. It was making them think they had already one a championship. They were letting up. They lost a hunger.
A divine dissatisfaction or passion is essential for progress and growth.
Can think that you have achieved a certain job status, a certain income level and you have arrived. I wrote a book so I can coast.
What is God calling you to do in life? Do you still hunger for it or have you grown complacent?
Consider what God has for you in your personal calling
● Look Forward.
As a teacher I love Paul says he does one thing and then gives you two parts. :-) But the point is clear: one act with two movements. looking to the goal requires turning from looking behind. And effort is required.
Athletic imagery is used (v13) to explain what it takes. The “goal” is the prize that comes from an athletic contest. “Straining toward what is ahead” is a word of intense effort. It could be used of a runner straining ahead extending himself for the finish line. Have you ever seen a runner do that in the Olympics. The guy is running as hard as he possibly can, straining, and then at the end he is giving it absolutely everything he has. Running as hard and strong and also trying to put everything he has into getting that hand or head extended just a little bit more. That is how Paul exerted himself in his pursuit of Christ. How are you running after him? Does it seem like the guy who is playing in the bowl game, or the guy watching on tv? That guy is casually sitting back, flipping through uncommitted to anything, not exerting himself. This is what much of Christianity has been in the western world.
Great effort is required because there are obstacles: there are those dogs, those mutilators of the flesh, those evil doers (v 2), those who live as enemies of the cross (3:18). People are weak. In 4:1 Paul tells them to stand firm in the Lord. We need to do that because things try to move us! In 4:2 Paul address two ladies who are not getting along and tells them to “agree in the Lord.”
What if your greatest, most fruitful years are ahead of you, then how should you train for that? I love getting older. I’m more experienced, a little smarter, I feel more effective in what I do.
You have to “forget what is behind you” (3:13).
Forgetting is choosing not to recall information concerning a particular matter. It means to disregard and to not put weight on. To care nothing for. Here it particularly involves your reasons for boasting. It’s amazing how even the good works you have done in the past can prevent you from being fruitful in the present. Forgetting is in the present tense meaning it is continuous and ceaseless activity. The past can creep in so quickly and condemn you or make you satisfied.
Don’t rest on the past. People so easily rest on their past victories. Good things they have done. The mission trip, marriage counseling, their past victories mask their present unfaithfulness. As though they don’t need to work on marriage because they counseled others or don’t need to evangelize because they have “done that.” Paul shares his past with those who try to boast in what they have done...
Paul could hang with anyone on human attainments. You have victories. He has more. You have confidence in what you have done (3:4). Paul has more. He is going after people who have confidence in the flesh (3:4), that is in things they have done. He considered these loss.
Paul kept pushing forward in his calling. He never retired. He never let up. What he had in Christ pushed him forward. How are you engaging in the mission? How is your pursuit of Christ? Are you resting on the past? When was the last time you told someone about Jesus, when was the last time you invited someone to church, when was the last time you stood up for what is right, when was the last time you gave sacrificially? Don’t be confident in your past. And also,
Don’t be condemned by the past. Some are puffed up by their past. Others are deflated by their past. Constantly devastated by the past. This passage teaches what to do with past successes and past failures. You push them aside. In Christ all our sins can be forgiven. If he has forgiven you why do you condemn yourself??
Christ’s righteousness.”not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith--” (Phi 3:9 ESV)
I have never met a successful business owner or business person that didnt take time at some point during the year to pull back and assess where they are at and what they strategically need to do the next year. I have never met a productive Christians that didnt take time to do the same in his life. This is a great time for that. What are you doing well? What do you need to change?
Bible Reading. Prayer. Fellowship. Knowing God.