Teachings

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A New Years Commitment

The old year is gone; it is past and we cannot relive it, nor should we try. We must not live in the past. You’ve probably heard me say, “If you live in the past, you will never make good forward progress”. Believe me, that is true! The Apostle Paul understood this when he wrote, “. . . one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14) Paul understood the importance of “forgetting” the past and “pressing on” into the future — may I suggest that all of us make that COMMITMENT as we enter 2020!

But, let’s be sure that we are committed to the right things as we pursue the future! Paul was! He wasn’t committed to making money, or getting a promotion, or buying something new and better, or improving his health, or ____ and the list could go on. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with these things, but there is something far better. For Paul the “far better” was to “know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death!” (vs.10). Paul’s pursuit was to be fully consumed with Christ! He wanted to know Him intimately, not just intellectually. He wanted to know Him in such a way that he experienced the “power” that brought forth Jesus from the dead, i.e., the Holy Spirit, and he wanted to suffer for and with Christ, i.e., to “fellowship in His sufferings”. Paul did not want to “know” about Christ, he wanted Christ to be His life. That’s why earlier in Philippians he wrote, “… for me to live is Christ …” (Philippians 1:21).

He knew that “he had not obtained it” (vs. 13) when he wrote the Philippian letter, but it was something that he would “press on” toward. He would pursue it with vigor and not give up. The imagery that Paul used was that of a runner coming down the home stretch, not looking behind him, but leaning forward, extending himself to break the tape. Paul’s daily goal was to be more-and-more like Christ; to be more-and-more “conformed to the image of Christ” (Romans 8:29). But, he knew that it would not be fully realized until he was in the presence of Christ! He called it “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (vs. 14) The “prize” was Christ-likeness, with all of its eternal benefits when he is in Christ’s presence! John, the apostle, said the same thing this way, “Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is …” (1 John 3:2) Yes, to be fully conformed into the image of His Son is still future, but just because Christ-likeness is not fully attainable in this life did not deter Paul from vigorously pressing toward it daily! It was the passion of his life.

Beloved, is that your passion? Do you say with Paul, “… for me to live is Christ!” Or do you ask others, as Paul did, to “be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1)? If you do, please continue as you enter 2020.

Continue to pursue it with much vigor. If not, may I call you to adjust your priorities as you enter 2020.

Beloved, as we pursue Christ-likeness in 2020, certain things are necessary:

  1. We must walk by the Holy Spirit! Christ-likeness is accomplished in us only through the Holy Spirit’s life manifested in us. (Galatians 5:16-25)
  2. We must abide in Christ! Jesus was clear about this when He encouraged and taught His disciples the night before He went to the cross. He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:4) I really believe the “fruit” that Jesus was referring to was His life, i.e., Christ-likeness. It is His life flowing through the branches that produces fruit!
  3. We must be in the Word! Later in John 15 Jesus drew together our abiding in Him and the Word of God when He said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you …” (vs. 7). Notice that our “abiding in Him” is done through the Word of God abiding in us! It is through God’s Word that our minds are “renewed” so that we know how Christ desires for us to live. It is in the Word that we see Christ-like living!

So, let’s forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead; let’s press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” in 2020!

For the LOVE of God’s people, Ron

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