"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you” (Philippians 3:13-15).
A phrase I often hear people say is, “back in the day,” to introduce a story or a memory from their past. Being as young as I am, I don't use that phrase much yet, so I did some research. Here are some facts about the world “back in the day.”
Back in 1985, a McDonalds Big Mac meal cost $2.59.
Back in 1977, what is now known as NorthStone Baptist Church was founded.
Back in 1975, you could buy a cheeseburger for about 25 cents.
Back in 1974, the first episode of “Little House on the Prairie” was released.
Back in 1972, the average price of gas was 36 cents a gallon.
Back in 1964, the first Ford Mustang was produced.
Back in 1957 was the last time the Detroit Lions won the Super Bowl.
In Philippians 3:13-15, Paul is saying the opposite of “back in the day.” He is saying, “I am not focused on what is behind me; I am focused on what is before me.” Paul certainly had mountains and valleys in his life. Think back to the thousands of people God used Paul to reach for the Gospel’s sake. But also, think back to the killing of Steven and other Christians that was a permanent part of Paul’s record. However, whether the past is good or bad, Paul tells us not to let the former things interrupt God's future plans.
Not only does Paul put his past behind him, but he also puts the present circumstances behind him. After all, consider the context in which the apostle is writing: he has been imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. But yet, he doesn’t allow that to hinder him; Paul knows God has called him to a high calling and he will not let his past failures or present circumstances get in the way.
As we enter the New Year, God calls each of us to a high calling. The details of that calling look different for each of us, but our general calling is the same: to give the Gospel. The start of the New Year is a great time to turn our backs on the mountains or valleys of the past year and “press toward” what God has for each of us in the upcoming year. As you reflect on the past year and consider making New Year's Resolutions, look for ways to better yourself not just physically, but also spiritually. Hopefully, as Christians, we won’t say, “Back in the day I was much more spiritual than I am now.” Whether 2023 has been mostly mountains or filled with valleys, don’t let those things hinder what God has in store for you in 2024. May we, as a church, press toward the mark this year.
The above article was written by Andrew Johnson. He is a pastoral ministries student and member of NorthStone Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL. To offer him your feedback, comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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God's character is consistent and faithful, and so His people should be as well. Pastor Johnson explains our responsibilities for the new year in light of God's faithfulness.