Welcoming 2022 Day 2: Pressing on Toward the Goal
The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.” (Exodus 14:15-16, ESV)
Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. (Proverbs 4:25-27, ESV)
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14, ESV)
Everybody likes to have something to look forward to, whether it be a vacation, a new book or movie coming out, a concert, or a date. Having something to look forward to can help us keep a positive outlook on life. We talked yesterday about looking back and the pros and cons of that endeavor. Today we’re going to think about looking forward.
While looking up Scriptures for today I came across these two Old Testament references and thought they wholly encompassed the idea I wanted to convey. In Exodus, God is basically shaking His head at the Israelites. They’ve done nothing but complain, while He has done nothing but provide for them, yet He simply says, “Go forward.” That was it; that was all they had to do. When it comes to living the Christian life it’s easy to feel that God is being silent when we cry out for help. But His Word offers us the truth we need! The idea of moving forward might seem a little simplistic, but it really is as easy as that. The blessing of the Holy Spirit allows us to discern what the next right move is. This brings Disney’s Frozen 2 to mind, with their song and idea of doing the next right thing. In a sense, that’s exactly what the Bible tells us to do.
When the Israelites did what God asked and kept moving forward, they crossed the Red Sea and Pharaoh was defeated. By simply taking the next right step everything fell into place the way God intended. Our verse in Proverbs is along the same lines: “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” When our focus is on God and we are faithfully marching down His path, our way will be sure. What an encouragement this is! In the Pauline epistles we are told many times how we should live our lives (e.g., Eph 4:22-32; Phil 2:1-5; Col 3:5-17). Those lists may seem daunting, but to put it simply, Paul exhorts us to live humbly, to put away sin, and to love one another as Christ loved us.
Here’s where our last verse of the day comes in. Philippians 3:13-14 is a powerhouse duo for the new year: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul continually put the past behind him, which for him was a past full of killing God’s people and living a self-righteous life, and pressed on toward the goal, which was the upward call of God. Our other verses encouraged us to walk forward and to look forward, and finally this verse encourages us not just to walk and look forward but to strive toward that upward call. There are two kinds of relationships: vertical and horizontal. All our relationships fall into the horizontal category except for one—our relationship with God. I bring this analogy up because I think it makes this verse more powerful. We are striving toward the goal…of the upward call. That upward call brings our vertical relationship into focus; God desires a relationship with each one of us that results in spending eternity with Him. So look forward this year, keep a heavenly mindset, and live for Christ in each moment!