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NOW is the time

No time is more appropriate to think about our lives than the beginning of a new year. This is a good time to reflect, to assess and to plan; to reflect upon the past year, to assess where we are as individuals and to plan whatever days ahead as the Lord might bless.

The inspired Word of God as penned by Paul sets us a vivid example (Phil. 3:7-14) of what we all ought to do as we reflect upon the past, the present and the future.

In this text, he writes of the past: “whatever things were gain to me (past tense) those things I have counted (past tense) as loss for the sake of Christ.” “ I have suffered (past tense) the loss of all things...but one thing {I do} forgetting what {lies}behind (in the past).”

Again, the apostle speaks of the present and his assessment of it: “and count them (in the present) but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, not that I have already (in the present) obtained {it} or have already (in the present) become perfect. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of {it} yet (in the present); but one thing {I do} (present tense).”

And Paul also writes of the future to which he is looking forward: “in order that I may attain (future tense) to the resurrection from the dead, but I press on in order that I may lay hold (future tense) of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (In the future).”

Here we want to do the same thing: to consider the past, the present and the future of our lives as we anticipate the coming new year and as we are all beseeching the blessings of God upon us as it comes:

1) Looking first at the past, we are reminded of the past manner of life of all of us (Eph 2:2-6). Immediately as we call to mind our former life of worldliness and disobedience to God, we should be thankful that it is behind us -that the wrath of God is no longer upon us. We ought also to be impressed with the love, grace and mercy of the Almighty God who put all those things behind us in forgiving our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. We should also be glad that our manner of lives have been changed (1 Pet 4:3-6). Having been raised to walk in newness of life, we know that the world may react negatively to our lives. This is to be expected, but we all need to prepare for the judgment. Let us be glad and let us all be determined that the works of the flesh (Gal 5:19-21) are in the past. Just as Paul wrote ... “but one thing {I do} forgetting what {lies} behind”. Let us again and again, forget the old life with its deceptions and vanity and move on in the living of the new life in Christ Jesus.

2) Secondly, let us look at the present: the here and now! We have not “already obtained {it} or have already become perfect.” If I think I have come as far as I need to go in Christ, I am deceived. 1 Cor 10:12, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” There is always room for improvement. I always am lacking in something. I must not deceive myself even by thinking that I have come further now than I have really come. It is serious self-deception when I think all is well while there are major short-comings in my life. It is only by accurate self-examination, that I will ever be able to make real progress in the future. If I cry “peace” when it does not exist… when I assume peace to exist because I wish it to be so; I am not realistically looking at my present self. When I hide my eyes from the real world or when I engage in avoiding who I am or what the problems of life really are, I will not realistically be able to progress in the future. Heb. 5:12 speaks of time demands; that is, what I really am in comparison to where I ought to be in the sight of God. God has expectations for us and He obviously has some time demands upon us getting there.

3) Thirdly, there is our look into the future. Firstly, there are the predictions and prognostications. One need not be a fortuneteller to know that both good and evil will befall the days to come (if they come). The real test is not what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you. Paul said (Phil 4:10-13) that he had “learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” The “secret of life” is contentment with whatever the future holds. Far too many of us make too many excuses for the circumstances rather than just doing the best we can with whatever happens. Secondly, there are the resolutions. We must not confuse resolution with repentance, but still we need to have resolve. With resolve, let us “reaching forward to what {lies} ahead,” and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Let us set the goals; and then, as the future unfolds, work out the accomplishment of those goals.

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