Hope for the New Year
For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 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. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Each and every one of us was born into the realm of this fallen world, due to the great Fall of Adam and Eve. But from the day that any one of us was born again, we were translated out from the world, and belong to the spiritual realm of God's Kingdom above – even while physically we remain on this fallen earth.
We look forward to the day we are taken to be with the Lord in glory. Yet for the new year 2018, if the Lord keeps us on this earth throughout the whole year, then it is another 365 days of His call: for us to take up our cross in Christ, who took up His cross for our redemption. Being, therefore, crucified as pertaining to the realm of this earth, we seek as our substance of life, that which pertains to the realm above. This we pursue, even while we hope to make a Godly impact on this earth below. To such end, the above passage of Scripture will provide encouragement for the new year, knowing that as we behold Christ, we will never exhaust the great expanse of His glorious riches and goodness.
God knows the various stages that each one of His children is at in the walk towards spiritual maturity, and in His loving patience He deals with each person accordingly. Yet all are headed towards the same end goal in Christ our eternal portion: that of ultimate resurrection and glorification. Considering this, also remember that right from the start, Christ has made us His own, and we are seated with Him in His heavenly realms in divine righteousness. We may, therefore, be encouraged that the end to which we walk, and should strain after, is only the full manifestation of that which is already ours positionally – and this is an unmerited gift.
This gift is founded upon God’s sacrificial love towards us. The sacrifice is now done. Death is behind our risen Lord Jesus. But the love continues. The efficacy of the sacrifice goes on forever. This love pursued us to bring us into a two-way love relationship with Him, under the banner of His acceptance and in the realm of His holiness. Therefore, while we sojourn, may His heart of love ignite our hearts to love Him back. This love will then flow to the people around us, in fulfilment of His commandments. May we feel His heart in all matters, so that we might be moved into prayer and action accordingly. This is by the Holy Spirit, given by the Father in the name of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. It is this Holy Spirit who enlightens our hearts with understanding, sanctifies our whole being towards the image of the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit also joins in intercession with the Lord Jesus on our behalf. We therefore have every encouragement that God will see us through in Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria.