So many voices are out there trying to tell us what 2023 holds for us. Some say the judgment of God will fall. Others say it will be blessings upon blessings. Who is right? In a sense, they are all probably right. The events and challenges of 2023 are not the problems. We all have had great and small challenges in the past. We know those challenges will pass. But our perspective is the most important thing as we enter the New Year.
As I was praying for the new year, the Lord brought me to a verse I would like to share with you. Philippians 3:14 (NASB95) says, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul wrote those words from his prison house in Rome. Let’s think about the situation that Paul is in. For many years, Paul had experienced the freedom to travel wherever the Lord led him. He traveled many miles preaching and teaching the word of God. He had experienced persecution in many places, but he had the freedom to go and do what he believed God wanted him to do.
Then the day came when Paul was taken to Rome. He was not accused of any crime at that time, but the Roman emperor wanted to keep Paul under his control, so he put him under house arrest. Can you imagine how disheartening that would have been for Paul?
During my early years of ministry, I lived in western Kentucky, and It became my habit to walk to the county jail and visit the prisoners. The jailer and I had become good friends, and one day, he thought it would be funny if he locked me in for a longer time than usual. He left the jail and went shopping for groceries! I kept buzzing him to let me out and got no answer. I got perturbed about this, to the amusement of the prisoners! I spent several hours locked up and did not think it was funny! I did not like the feeling of losing my freedom.
So here is Paul. He has lost his freedom to travel. He is under guard twenty-four hours a day, every week. So, what does Paul do? He presses on. He does not quit. He finds a different way of ministering to people. A method that has blessed and continues to bless believers for almost 2000 years! Paul had the proper perspective. His perspective was, I am going to press on. In the Greek text, the words press on means to continue to move forward.
Paul had the proper perspective because he had gotten hold of his priorities. In verse eight of that passage, Paul tells us that he has counted and continues to count or consider everything a loss to him. He says it is all rubbish or it has no worth to him. The secret to Paul’s perspective was his priorities. Paul thought that nothing else mattered except his relationship with God. Paul wasn’t focused on the things of earth. His focus, his perspective, was on finishing the race that was set before him. It wasn’t on the condition of the track or spectators in the stands. His perspective was to finish the race. Paul knew that someday God would call out to him and say well done, Paul. Come up here to the highest place of all.
None of us know what 2023 holds. But we all can make this determination that we will press on and run toward all God has for us. Will you join me in making this your objective?