December 30, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is the last Wednesday of 2020 and with the help of God, we made it! What a year! It will not soon be forgotten. Thank you for continuing to the end of this year in the spirit of prayer. Thank you for praying for our prodigals and for revival. Don’t give up. God is on the throne. Christ will soon return and the best is yet to come.
Our Lord deserves our devotion and the apostle Paul is a good example for us of living this out. In Acts, we read about how he first met Him on the Damascus road. Paul's story is recorded three times. In chapter nine, a light from heaven flashed around him. In chapter twenty-two, Paul tells his story to a Jewish mob in Jerusalem and speaks about a great light from heaven. In the last instance, in chapter twenty-six, he describes it as a light from heaven brighter than the sun. These descriptions seem to indicate Paul’s increasing appreciation for the person of Christ. By the time he writes Philippians, his heart is totally captivated by his Lord. The entire book of Philippians is filled with Paul’s appreciation of Christ:
“Christ is my life,” Paul writes in chapter one (Phil. 1:21). Then in chapter two, he points to Him as his role model: “Christ is my example” (Phil. 2:5). In chapter three, he explains, “Christ is my experience” (Phil. 3:10). And in chapter four, he holds Him up as his source, “Christ is my strength” (Phil. 4:13). What an extraordinary way to live! It is a Christ-centered life!
As we think about a New Year, and as we consider the past year, read with me what Paul says to the Philippian believers in chapter three, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Phil. 3:13-14). The progression of thought in these verses is worth considering:
Notice first how he was focusing! Focusing on what? His vision was filled with Christ. The battle for life is fought and won in the mind (2 Cor. 10:5). To have Christ as your main focus all the time is to live in victory. We need to continually reassess what our main focus in life is. Is it me and my advancement, or is it Christ and His kingdom?
Secondly, there are things he was consciously forgetting! Forgetting what? He was forgetting those things which were behind. He was forgetting the past. All the time of selfish endeavor before salvation was forgotten. All the accomplishments for Christ that he could have been satisfied with and simply stopped moving forward. All the problems that he faced. All the failures and mistakes he made. Everything was forgotten for the sake of Christ. What is it that you need to forget?
Then in his resolve, he was looking! Looking for what? He was looking ahead, not back, but ahead to all that Christ had in store. He was looking ahead to seeing Christ, to being with Christ, and to enjoying the presence of Christ forever. What a prospect! Maybe it will be our reality in 2021!
This “looking” caused him to keep pressing! Pressing for what? He was pressing on for the goal. It was not the time for quitting. It was not the time for slacking off. It was the time to “put the shoulder to the wheel” and keep going, even though the way was difficult. My encouragement to you as we close this year and head into a new one is to keep pressing on. Don’t allow discouragement and trouble to hinder you from what God is doing in you and through you. Press on, dear sister! Press on, dear brother! It will be worth it all in the end. Every sacrifice, every trial, every heartache, every accomplishment, every deed done for Christ, will be remembered and rewarded.
Lastly, he was receiving something valuable! Receiving what? He was receiving the prize! He hadn’t received it but was anticipating the day when he would. The prize is wrapped up in the person of Christ. It’s heaven. It’s home! It’s Him! And this is our prospect as we face the future!
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel