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January: Goals, dreams, possibilities ~ 3 Things to Remember

Month in Review - January 25, 2016 by Victoria


New Year resolutions. We make them and we break them and some we keep, at least for a while. But it really doesn’t matter, because it’s more about what it represents than what it really means. A new year represents a second chance for a new beginning. It represents hope for prayers answered, for goals achieved and for dreams come true. So when we make resolutions it represents our faith stepping into a future of possibilities and an acknowledgement that the past is behind us.


Run the Race Well 


In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul says: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


Paul sets the example for “new year resolutions”. In this verse, Paul says he leaves what's behind, and "presses on toward the goal to win the prize". Like running a race, he “forgets what is behind” because the mileage already covered is in the past. Previous races, win or lose, were good training for the present and future races, but in the current race in the present moment a runner is always focused on that finish line.


Paul sees our earthly journey in a similar fashion, as we learn from the past and press on to what's ahead. Our past helps to shape us from lessons learned, memories lived, trials and triumphs. The past helps us to grow in the present and plan for the future. But if we live in the past we miss the gift of the present and the dreams of the future. Our ultimate goal in life's race, which in turn helps to set all other goals, is to win the prize of knowing Christ more, being more like Him and being in the glory of His presence for all eternity.

How do we "Press on toward the goal to win the prize"?

You may have heard the expression, "you can't keep doing the same things and expect new results". Jesus said basically the same thing in Romans 12:2, where he talks about our new beginning after salvation. By God's love and grace in Christ Jesus, we are saved, period. But because God loves us and wants the best for us, He wants us to experience the ultimate transformation in our daily lives beyond being saved.

Renew our Mind


Romans 12:2 tells us “do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”.


This passage gives us some guidance on how to run race well so that we "press on toward the goal to win the prize". It makes a clear contrast between renewing our minds and conforming to the world. We cannot do both. Once we are saved we are called to renew our minds. This is a journey and requires some work on our part, but the heavy lifting is done by the Holy Spirit. He can help us to work on our thoughts, our perception, and our understanding through study of the scriptures, through prayer and through service and fellowship with our church family. Notice he uses the term "renewing" as in "an ongoing process". God does not expect an overnight success story.

He also tells us what not to do...we are not to conform or follow the ways of the world, as this would be contrary to the ways of God and an obstacle to the "renewing" of our minds. Yes, we are to be salt and light to the world, and we do so by sharing God’s love and compassion as the hands and feet of Jesus. But it doesn't mean we have fellowship with the world or try to “fit in” or conform to their ways. He goes so far as to say that only with a renewed mind, can we truly understand God's will for us. When we understand His will, like a runner understands his coach's leading, then we know how to "press on toward the goal".


Whether you were saved yesterday or years ago, a new year gives us an opportunity to reflect on our transformation. We are all unique, and we each have a unique journey. We all mess up and slip up on the way to that glorious finish line. Be kind to yourself and remember that only our heavenly Father knows how to help us "press on". He will lead us, gently strengthen us when we stumble or pick us up when we fall, and you better believe that he is cheering us on all the way to that finish line. We only need to give God our heart and press into Him and He will lead us to press on. As Paul tells us in Philippians 1:6, "Being confident in this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus". That's God's promise to us...just as He saved us, He will also complete us through our journey of transformation.

How do we renew our mind?

It's worth repeating, that it is the Holy Spirit who imparts what we need to renew our mind. It's by His power that we are transformed and not by our own strength. So what exactly is it that we are supposed to do? We press into God...we pursue Him through His word, through prayer and through community with our church family. We surrender our will to His counsel and His leading by putting Him first in our life. First means first...before even family, and before career and before community. Because when God is first, we (and who we love) are never last.


God First


We learn in Matthew 6:33 that we must “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”.


We are surrendered to God's leading when we put Him first in our lives, whatever our circumstances. Unfortunately, we sometimes worry about so many things like our children, our spouses, our finances, our jobs, and the list goes on. So life gets in the way and God is nowhere at the top of the list where He should be. The enemy would love nothing more than to use the troubles of this world to distract us from our relationship with our Father and His perfect will for our lives. This is why Jesus told us not to worry about what we will eat or drink or wear, because our Father knows what we need.


Instead we are to make Him our first priority and He will take care of all our needs. When we put God first, we get busy about His kingdom business. That starts with an intimate relationship with Him through prayer, scripture and serving others. When God is first, we give the Holy Spirit full permission to renew our minds and lead us in our transformation to the likeness of God’s son.


Ask God to give you the strength and courage to trust Him with your cares so you can spend your time and energy on Him. The rewards are more than we can ever imagine. When God is first in our lives, our needs will be met above and beyond anything we could have accomplished on our own.

So as you think of your goals, dreams and possibilities this new year, remember these three things: Put God first and He will transform you, helping you to "renew your mind", preparing and equipping you to "press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called you heavenward in Christ Jesus". Because when God is first, you are never last.



See this month's "War Room" prayer pack giveaway to help you get started on this great journey. God bless you!



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