8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Today marks the start of another new year; today is a time to reflect on what has happened in the last year, and on our lives in general. The great thing about a new year is that it gives us the opportunity to start over; it allows us to began anew, and to correct the wrongs that we have left behind us. It is a time for a fresh approach to accomplish our heartfelt dreams, and to set out to achieve something special. It is a very personal time, because no one else can or should set our direction for us, but we must be certain that our choices line up with what God would want. It would be arrogant on our part if we exclude Him from our plans.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I need to ask myself if I have accomplished everything to "possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me". That is something we all should be asking ourselves, because we are here to specifically follow and please God, and not pursue our own agendas. God calls all believers to a life of obedience, following after His desire for us to know Jesus Christ and help others do the same.
In the verses above Paul was writing from prison in Rome to the Philippian church, to encourage them in the midst of difficulty and persecution. This was a congregation of believers that he loved deeply, because it was a missionary church he planted several years earlier, and it always had a special place in his heart. He wanted to lift them up and help them to look past their present circumstances to the hope that they had in Jesus Christ, and that no matter how difficult it would become, that their trust and salvation in Jesus should be their main focus.
The New Year 2014 will bring its own set of difficulties, challenges, and opportunities, but we need to be sure to "seek first His kingdom and righteousness" and we won't have to worry about accomplishing what God has planned out in His will for us. In the new year, make it your goal to "forget the past and look forward to what lies ahead; press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling you". We should let Christ Jesus and God's will be our primary focus, and make sure whatever we plan to do in 2014 is in obedience to Him and for His glory.