Summary: Challenging for commitment in the year ahead


“I do concentrate on this; I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal -my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ.”

[Philippians 3:14 J B Philips]

As we face another New Year, it is good to look back and learn from our mistakes; be encouraged by our successes; and determine that the New Year facing us is going to be the best Year that we can make it – with God’s help! There is no point in simply drifting along. We need to set ourselves a personal target – something you would like to see achieved during this coming Year. I would ask you to respond to this challenge personally. It might be a good idea to write down your personal target, so that you will be able to see when you attain it!

Before we can see great things done in our Fellowship, we must see great things done in our own lives. The Fellowship is made up of individuals, and each one of us has an important part to play in the on-going life of this part of the Church.

I feel sure that there are things that we would like to see happen in this coming Year; a Year that is untrodden, and unmarked. If we take time to look back over last year, and see the trail of our moving through the year, I feel certain that there are things that we would change if it were possible, but we cannot touch last year, it is now a closed chapter of history. But we do have a New Year before us. What are we going to make of it? Will we come back in twelve months with similar regrets, Or with a sense of joy?

I believe that this word from Scripture, is one that we can take with us through the coming year. It is a word that can help us attain His ‘well done’- if we are willing to apply it to our daily living. This is a word for every day of this year, not just for the opening days. It is a word that can change our lives for the better. Let me remind you of the text:

“I do concentrate on this; I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal -my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ.”

[Philippians 3:14 J B Philips]

I want to take a look to see what this verse is really saying to us today, and the first thing I see is the need to concentrate on applying the Word of God to our individual lives. There must be an


“I do concentrate on this;”

The fact that we have the Bible to help us each and every day is due to the goodness of the Lord. If we get into a mess in our lives, it is almost certain that we have contravened one of the principles laid down by the Lord in His Word! Has God spoken to you in the past year about a particular thing in your life? Have you responded in the way the Lord has shown you? To apply God’s Word needs concentration to overcome the habits of a lifetime; habits that are not glorifying to the Lord. Let us make it our aim for this New Year to really concentrate on doing what the Lord tells us, even if we do not understand why we should do it!

Let me remind you that God’s ways are not our ways; they are better, higher, greater than our ways. We need to apply what He says to us. We can take encouragement from what Mary told the servants at Canna. She told them to do whatever Jesus said. It was a strange instruction, but it worked! His instructions always will! As long as the instruction is from Jesus it is sure to work!

What we have said so far is not promised to be easy, it requires:


“I leave the past behind”

Whatever that happened in last year is gone, it is history, and cannot be changed. There were some things that were good, but they are in the past. There may have been some things that were not good, but they are also in the past, and can be forgiven, if confessed. It is certain that however much we may try we cannot live in the past. We have today, and we face tomorrow, but yesterday with its joys and sorrows is irretrievably gone. What we did in past years cannot be changed – we cannot even change what we did yesterday. We can certainly learn from the past, but whether we like it or not, we have to move forward into the New Year ahead of us. Let us determine, like Paul to, “leave the past behind”, facing the future with real expectancy, as we firmly believe God for great things.

Consequently there must be

3. Expectation

“with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal”

I cannot tell you what lies ahead in this coming year, but I do know that it is in the control of the Lord, and that His plans for me, and for you, are only for our good. I am sure that you remember that wonderful text in Jeremiah 29:11:

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

It may be that you will say that you have not been prospered in the past year, then let me remind you of what the Scriptures say in Hebrews 10:36

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what He has promised”.

Can you honestly say that you have put the Lord first in every part of your life? Your home, your friends, your finances, your conversation, your thought life? Have you made time for the Lord to speak to you? He can speak to you, and would like to, but we must make time to listen to what He would say to us.

As we saw earlier, the past is behind us and cannot be changed, but let us learn from our mistakes, and go forward “with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead”. Let us deliberately and consciously place our confidence in the goodness of our God, and trust Him, expecting and allowing Him to work out His purposes in our lives. Let there be an eagerness, “with hands outstretched”, anticipating the generosity of God. There is a place that He wants us to arrive at in our lives; that is why He is constantly seeking to work out His plans in us, in spite of us!

There is meant to be an end result, a destination point. The question arises, are we aiming at the target?


“I go straight for the goal”

Paul says that he is going “straight for the goal”. Here he uses the metaphor of the athlete who has the finishing line as the target, and who will not be distracted by anything, or by anyone. He does no run from side to side, his attention is not diverted by what others are doing, he stays on the path, and runs a straight line. This must be our standard for the coming year.

If we are going to see the blessing of the Lord poured out upon us; if we are going to see people coming to know the Lord as Saviour; if we are going to see growth in our own lives, and in the life of our Fellowship, then this must be our main pointer for the directing of our lives throughout the year. Let nothing cause you to deviate in your purpose. Aim for the goal of allowing the Lord to work out His purposes in your life this year. Make your will and desire subordinate to the will of the Lord for you. Do you really know that the Lord has a plan for YOU? Are you aware that there is a part of God’s purpose that only you can fulfil? Go for it! “go straight for the goal”.

If we stay with the metaphor of the athlete, then there is usually a prize, a reward to be aimed for; and in this race there is a prize to set our sights on.


-my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ.”

How wonderful that the Lord, not only works in our lives to bless us, (and the blessing of the Lord makes us rich), but He also wants to reward us for doing what we ought to do! You will note that the text speaks of “the honour of being called by God in Christ.” That should be sufficient reward in itself. How precious to know the calling of God in our lives. Do you know your calling in God? Paul tells us to make our calling sure! What does the Lord want to do in, and through you?

The text speaks of being “in Christ”. If we are “in Christ”, then we are “in Christ” at all times; every moment of every day; in every place that we visit. Being “in Christ” includes our daily living, as well as our eternal security!

Let us be among those who dare to believe God for great things, and who are willing to let the Lord work out His purpose in our lives. C T Studd makes a profound statement when he said “Christ wants not nibblers at the possible, but grabbers of the impossible”.

Are you willing to believe for the impossible? Anyone can achieve what is possible, but only those people who dare to take God at His Word will see that “With God all things are possible”.