Press On

Philippians 3:10-14

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The epistle to the Philippians surprisingly is written from Prison (1:7) but contains some of the greatest themes of joy, praise and adoration. It is surprising because, in our normal human reasoning, a man in prison shouldn’t be pouring out such admonishments to be joyful. John MacArthur in a commentary notes that “In spite of Paul’s imprisonment, the dominant tone of the letter is joyful. And he lists all the texts that speaks about joy (1: 4, 18, 25, 26; 2: 2, 16– 18, 28; 3: 1, 3; 4: 1, 4, 10).

As we enter the New Year, there are talks out there that the New Year is just another ordinary day. Yes, we can say that. But in a certain sense, it’s unlike every other day. At least the year is going to add 1 year to everyone’s age as we progress. It also gives us the opportunity to restart as it were. New year resolutions will be made, some will keep to theirs, some will break theirs, things will come up we never planned, but one thing we must look forward to doing is being more effective and productive in our lives. Productive in our service to God. Productive in our employment and businesses. Productive in all our responsibilities in life. I saw something on facebook I will love to share with you. It’s from Kevin DeYoung’s page. He wrote

Life can be complicated and confusing. Thankfully, there are simple habits that can help us grow as people and as Christians in the New Year: study the Bible, pray, read books, sleep more, exercise more, phone less, online less, tv less, get plugged in at a good church.

I think that if we look at this, it is good, godly and biblical advice. Now Paul, though in Prison, he hasn’t given up on life, taking a back seat and complaining because he is in prison. The words he spoke are words we can glean from as we enter a New Year.

Not Complacent

All of us can become complacent in life and especially in our walk with God. When Paul said “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect…” he was clearly speaking against becoming complacent in life. “Not that I have already obtained this…” What is this Paul is speaking about? In the previous verse, he spoke about certain things—call them visions, goals, resolutions—he has set for himself (v.10). (i) Know Christ (ii) Share in Christ’s suffering (iii) Christ likeness. At least we can see this to which Paul says he has not obtained. It’s is interesting that Paul, an apostle of his calibre, will still say he wants to know Christ. This must be the desire of all of us who name the name of Christ. We must seek to grow in our walk of faith. We must seek to increase in our knowledge of Christ.

And if there is any among us, or any who will hear this message, who is yet to come to faith in Christ, I beg you. Just as Paul desires to know Christ, let that be your desire for the New Year. Seek Christ now, don’t let the new year pass you by.
Also as believers, we must be willing to share in the suffering of Christ. This for us may mean denying ourselves of certain things in life because of Christ. It may mean losing opportunities because of Christ. More broadly, in our life in general, this will mean seeking to progress in what we put our hands to. Including our service to God. And as a church, I look forward to greater engagement of our community with the gospel. I think we can all agree we need to grow. Not only in our knowledge of sound doctrine, but in our engagement of the community. Complacency can take another form, that is resting in past glory. Some people can look at their past achievements in life and become complacent. But no, we must forge ahead. There are as it were, more to do for the kingdom of God.

Perseverance

The word press in the text is basically to give ones self to something or pursue something. So when Paul said he press on, he meant he perseveres. He reaches out. Earlier, he has used the phrase, “straining forward.” This also paints a picture of not giving up easily. Life comes with a lot of disappointments and even sometimes failure in our walk with God. But we must not give up. We must not turn our backs to God. We must press on until we have accomplished God’s will for our lives in this life and also to one day inherit eternal life.

Let’s look towards this New Year with hope in God and press on in the New Year.

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