By Lt. Colonel Mervyn Morelock –
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:14 (NIV)
Many years ago, the San Francisco Harbor Light Corps chapel displayed two signs. One was visible to all who entered the chapel. The other was small and hidden to all but a few people. The first was on a large walnut board, attached to the wall of the chapel which read in golden letters, “The Place of New Begin-nings.” It reminded all who came in the front door that this was a special place. Special, because of the life-changing experience that was available for all who would allow the Spirit of God to enter into their lives. At the simple wooden altar benches, God came many times and changed the lives of countless thousands of alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, and those who came in as defeated, hopeless people. It was a place of “new beginnings” for so many!
As we begin this, a brand new year, we need to allow God to make it a year of “new beginnings” for each of us. The new, clean, fresh calendar before us is filled with the potentials for life, joy and a new taste of God’s goodness. This is the year we will celebrate with a Great Victory Congress. This can be a year when God can bless us and use us for his Glory in sharing our faith through the People Count! program, if we will allow him to be Lord of our life.
In our text, Paul stresses three things to consider in this coming new year:
I. FORSAKING THE PAST “…forgetting those things which are behind…”
When we trust Christ to forgive our sins, not only have they been forgiven, but they are forgotten, never to be remembered against us again! So we need to forget the sins and failures of the past. Don’t let Satan drag up the forgiven past. It’s a new year, and just as the calendar for 1997 starts with clean pages, there must be no black marks, no missed appointments, no guilt for the past. We can trust in a forgiving and loving God!
II. FORESEEING THE FUTURE “…press toward the mark…” Even though the future is unknown, we can trust Christ for the future. The Message says, “I’m well on my way, reaching out to Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.” No fearful worry about the future. Twelve-step recovery programs for alcohol and drug abusers remind the participants to trust God, “one day at a time.” We can look with confidence that God will be with us each day as we reach out to Christ.
III. FULFILLING GOD’S PLAN FOR US, “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” We are called to be his witnesses, his servants, to be God’s man, God’s woman. It is easy and natural to rest on what God has done for us in the past. Some have given many years of service to the Lord, and it would be easy to hide behind the rank and position of the past. But God is giving us a new year to share the glorious message of his Love to the lost. In our travels around the territory, we have been surprised at the ignorance of so many to the truths of the Gospel. So many have never heard the simple plan of salvation. So many have never heard of a loving and forgiving Lord. So many have never heard about the incredible gift that Jesus gave us, when he died on the cross for us! We need to develop “holy heartburn” of desire to share with others the “Good News of Jesus” so that they, too, can experience the new life in Jesus Christ. “I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward–to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back! (The Message)
I mentioned that there were two signs at the old Harbor Light. The second sign was small, engraved in the pulpit, where the preacher could see it. “Sirs, we would see Jesus.” (John 12:21) No theatrics, no artificial eloquence, please. Men and women who are lost in sin, and are dying, do not need to be impressed with a man, a position, an organization or a church. They need to see Jesus. They need to see Jesus in us; at work, at school, at home. If we want the world to be won for Jesus, it must begin in us.
“The Place of New Beginning”? Why, it’s in your heart and mine!