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STOP FOCUSING ON YESTERDAY

Philippians 3:1-14

Drifting along as we start a new year is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone who wants to achieve a height this year. Some people look at the past year and get discouraged because they were unable to achieve all that they set out to achieve. There were many things we would have love to achieve or change if it were possible, but we cannot touch last year, it is now a closed chapter of history. But we do have a New Year before us. What are we going to make of it? Will we come back in twelve months with similar regrets, or with a sense of joy?

The best way to face the new year is to look back and learn from our mistakes; be encouraged by our successes; and determine that the New Year facing us is going to be the best Year that we can make it – with God’s help! In the words of Collin Coombs,”we should leave the past behind.” Whatever that happened in last year is gone, it is history, and cannot be changed. There were some things that were good, but they are in the past. There may have been some things that were not good, but they are also in the past, and can be forgiven, if confessed. It is certain that however much we may try we cannot live in the past. We have today, and we face tomorrow, but yesterday with its joys and sorrows is irretrievably gone. What we did in past years cannot be changed – we cannot even change what we did yesterday. We can certainly learn from the past, but whether we like it or not, we have to move forward into the New Year ahead of us. Let us determine, like Paul to, “leave the past behind”, facing the future with real expectancy, as we firmly believe God for great things.”

This is what Saint Paul seems to say in Philippians 3:14 , “I do concentrate on this; I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal -my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ.” J. Michael Shannon has this to say about forgetting about yesterday. Among author M.C. Beaton’s Hammish MacBeth Series of murder mysteries is one titled Death of Yesterday. While the book does not deal with the death of a day in the obvious sense, the title is suggestive. Sometimes our mental and spiritual health requires the death of yesterday—and its burial. The apostle Paul wrote about forgetting those things which are behind.”

Commentator Gordon Fee recalls the famous “miracle mile,” the first time two milers ran under four minutes in the same race. Roger Bannister and John Landy competed in Vancouver, B.C. in 1954. Landy had led all the way, but coming off the final turn toward the finish line he looked over his shoulder to find out where Bannister was, only to be passed on the other side and beaten to the tape! [Gordon Fee, “Philippians,” IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 155].

If we focus on the failure of yesterday, we may be too discouraged to face this year, and the same vein, if we focus on yesterday’s success, we slow down our speed in this new year. May God help us in Jesus Name.

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