Summary: A New Year's Day message encouraging us to Press On

Straining Forward

Philippians 3:12-14

January 1, 2017

I remember many, many years ago, when I was just a young kid – – – I remember being outside with a basketball and shooting baskets. There would come a time during my shooting where you would have a final countdown. The game is on the line. It’s the NBA championship, and I get a pass from Michael Jordan . . . I make a move, shoot as the clock hits zero and – – – – I miss!

UGH! Ever been there? But here’s the beauty . . . it’s all imagination. I guess I never heard the whistle for the time out. Then I shoot again, and miss again! Oh, but wait, I was fouled by that imaginary player. The scenes play out time after time, and you know what? Somehow my team never, ever loses the game. Something always happens to help me get another chance to win the game.

We’ve entered the new year 2017! I wonder how long it will take me to get that straight in my head, it’s a new year, a new number to write down. One thing is for sure, we’ve all missed that last shot. But it’s okay! It really is, and today is a great reminder that it’s okay!

It’s good to be able to start over fresh. This week most students will return to school, as will some college students. Most of us are recovering from the Christmas activities and have already forgotten about the festivities of the past couple of weeks. Many are back at work after vacations.

What do you anticipate for this year? Are you full of enthusiasm, passion and eagerly looking forward to what each day of this new year will bring? Or are you filled with a sense of dread, worried that this year will be worse than last year?

I would have to say, just like most of us when we miss that shot, but eventually win the game with that same shot, it’s your mindset, your attitude, your reaction to events which will determine whether this is a year of victory or a year of defeat.

The Apostle Paul was never one to let circumstances defeat him. With God’s help, he was determined to win the victor’s crown. Listen as his attitude, dedication, and determination shine through in these words found from Philippians 3:12-14. Paul wrote these words to the people of Philippi, while sitting in prison ~

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.

Paul is referring to prior verses in Philippians 3. He wants the people of Philippi to know he has not reached the goal yet. His goal is the resurrection! For this to occur in Paul’s life, he believes and hopes he may suffer for the glory of Christ. That he would be used by God in any manner God chooses, so that the message of Christ is passed on.

Paul wanted the Philippians to understand he didn’t have all of the answers. He had not already obtained the resurrection or for that matter been made perfect. He still lived in a fallen world. He was still a sinner and a sinner could not attain perfection in this world.

If we want to live beyond ourselves, we have to face an ugly truth . . . none of us are perfect. If you question the truth of that statement, I’m sure someone really close to you would be happy to correct you. None of us are perfect.

And in a strange way, that’s comforting. As much as we want to be perfect, we are not! We may come close on occasion, or we may bowl a perfect game or pitch a perfect game, but the next time out, don’t expect it to happen again. It’s so difficult in major league baseball, that in all of the years of baseball, over 210,000 games – – – it’s only happened 23 times – – – that’s 1/100 %.

So, if we want to move beyond where we’re presently at, we need to admit, like Paul, we’re not perfect! As believers in Christ, we will achieve perfection upon death.

In verse 12, when Paul says I PRESS ON to make it my own. The phrase to PRESS ON literally means ~

to aggressively chase, like a hunter pursuing a prized catch. To pursue with all haste, earnestly desiring to overtake or apprehend.

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