Good morning, and Happy and Blessed New Year!

Greetings in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)





As we gather today, we stand at a significant juncture – the close of one year and the dawn of another. This moment offers us a unique opportunity for reflection and anticipation. Our theme, drawn from the inspiring words of Paul in Philippians 3:13-14, invites us to consider the past year with a heart of thanksgiving, acknowledging both our successes and our failures. It’s a time to recognize that every experience, whether joyful or challenging, has contributed to our growth and understanding.


Furthermore, as we look forward to the coming year, we embrace hope. Hope not in our own capabilities, but in the guidance and providence of God. He has led us thus far and promises to be with us in every step ahead. It’s a time to trust in His unfailing wisdom and love, which will light our path in the days to come.


Lastly, our focus is on the commitment to press on – to continue our journey towards the high calling we have in Christ Jesus. This calling is not just a destination but a continuous pursuit. It involves growing in our faith, deepening our relationship with God, and living out His purpose for our lives.


In this devotional sermon, we will explore how we can gratefully look back, hopefully look forward, and faithfully press on in our walk with Christ. Let us open our hearts to the lessons of the past, the promises of the future, and the calling of our present journey in Christ.




Thanksgiving for the Past Year – Successes and Failures


Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2-3)


As we reflect on the year that has passed, it is essential to approach both our successes and our failures with a spirit of thanksgiving. The Scripture in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 exhorts us to give thanks in all circumstances, not just in times of prosperity and joy, but also in times of challenge and difficulty. This principle of gratitude is a fundamental aspect of our faith, teaching us to recognize God’s hand in every aspect of our lives.


Successes in the past year, whether in personal achievements, professional growth, or spiritual development, are opportunities to acknowledge God’s blessings and grace. Every success we enjoy is a testament to His goodness and provision. As stated in Psalm 107:1, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Our achievements are not solely the result of our own efforts but are a reflection of the divine assistance and opportunities provided by God.


On the other hand, the difficulties and challenges we have encountered are equally important in shaping our character and faith. James 1:2-3 encourages us to view trials as occasions for joy, knowing that these experiences test our faith and develop perseverance. Challenges often serve as catalysts for personal and spiritual growth, pushing us beyond our comfort zones and deepening our reliance on God. Romans 5:3-4 echoes this sentiment: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”


Moreover, the hardships of the past year teach us empathy and compassion. In 2 Corinthians 1:4, Paul writes that God “comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Our own experiences of struggle enable us to extend genuine understanding and support to others facing similar situations.


Gratitude in the face of failure is also a crucial aspect of our spiritual journey. Failures remind us of our humanity and the need for God’s grace. They keep us humble and open to God’s guidance. Psalm 51:17 states, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Our failures, when approached with a contrite heart, can lead us to a deeper experience of God, especially His unconditional forgiveness and love.


In the spirit of thanksgiving, let us also remember to express our gratitude to those around us. Colossians 3:15-17 urges us to “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly… with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Expressing thanks to family, friends, colleagues, and even strangers can foster an environment of gratitude and encouragement.


In summary, reflecting on the past year with a heart of thanksgiving allows us to fully appreciate the breadth of our experiences – the joys and the sorrows, the triumphs and the trials. It enables us to recognize God’s presence in every moment and to grow in faith and character. As we move forward, let us carry with us a spirit of gratitude, acknowledging God’s unfailing love and grace in every circumstance of life.




Embracing Hope for the Coming Year


For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)


As we stand on the cusp of a new year, filled with its own set of unknowns and possibilities, it is essential to anchor ourselves in hope and trust in God’s plan for our lives. Jeremiah 29:11 is a powerful reminder of God’s benevolent intentions for us, His plans to prosper us and not to harm us, and His desire to give us a hope and a future. This verse reassures us that, even when the path ahead seems unclear, we can trust in God’s overarching plan for our good.


Embracing hope for the coming year involves more than wishful thinking; it is an active trust in God’s providential care. Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us to trust in the Lord with all our heart and not to rely solely on our understanding. This trust is a conscious choice to lean on God’s wisdom and guidance in every decision we make, whether big or small. As we navigate through life’s complexities, trusting in God ensures that our paths are aligned with His will and purpose for us.


Prayer plays a pivotal role in nurturing our hope and faith. Philippians 4:6-7 encourages us to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Prayer is the means by which we communicate our fears, desires, and hopes to God. It is through prayer that we find peace and assurance, even amidst uncertainty.


Moreover, the role of faith in embracing hope cannot be overstated. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith is the foundation upon which our hope is built; it is believing in God’s promises, even when they are yet to materialize. As we look forward to the coming year, our faith allows us to view future challenges not as insurmountable obstacles but as opportunities for God to demonstrate His faithfulness.


In addition to personal hope and trust, we are called to encourage and uplift one another. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 exhorts us to “encourage one another and build each other up.” The community of faith is a powerful resource for fostering hope. As we share our journeys, testimonies, and prayers, we mutually strengthen our trust in God’s providence.


The coming year may also bring opportunities for us to step out in faith, to undertake new ventures or face challenging circumstances. Joshua 1:9 offers encouragement in such times: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” This verse reminds us that our hope is not in our abilities but in God’s constant presence and guidance.


In conclusion, embracing hope for the coming year is an integral part of our spiritual journey. It involves a deep trust in God’s plans, a commitment to seeking His guidance, and a reliance on prayer and faith to navigate future uncertainties. As we look forward to the new year, let us do so with a renewed sense of hope, trusting in God’s unwavering love and care for us, and encouraging one another in our shared journey of faith.




Pressing Onward Towards Our High Calling


Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. ( Hebrews 12:1-2)


As we enter a new year, one of our primary focuses as believers is to press on toward the high calling we have in Christ Jesus. This calling is not merely a destination but a journey of faith, marked by perseverance, growth, and continual alignment with God’s will.


The Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 3:13-14 capture the essence of this journey. He speaks of “straining toward what is ahead” and “pressing on toward the goal.” This language conveys a sense of active pursuit, a relentless drive to reach the fullness of life in Christ. Our high calling in Christ is to become more like Him in every aspect of our lives, to embody His love, grace, and truth.


Perseverance in faith and godly pursuits is especially crucial in the face of challenges and adversities. James 1:12 offers encouragement in this regard: “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” This verse reminds us that perseverance is not in vain; it leads to spiritual maturity and ultimate reward.


Keeping our focus on Christ is vital in our journey toward our high calling. Hebrews 12:2 urges us to fix our eyes on Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Jesus is not only our example but also the source of our strength. In Him, we find the inspiration and power to overcome obstacles and to grow in our faith. As we navigate life’s complexities, our gaze must remain steadfast on Christ, drawing from His wisdom and following His lead.


Moreover, pursuing our high calling involves actively living out our faith. Galatians 5:25 states, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” This means being attentive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit, and being responsive to His promptings in our daily lives.


The concept of the high calling also includes serving others and contributing to the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-12 explains that Christ has given various gifts to His people to equip them for service and build up the church. Embracing our unique gifts and using them for God’s glory is a crucial aspect of our calling.


Furthermore, our high calling encompasses sharing the gospel and making disciples. Mark 16:15 commands us to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Our calling is intrinsically linked with the Great Commission, inviting others to experience the transformative love of Christ.


In summary, pressing onward toward our high calling in Christ Jesus is a dynamic and multifaceted pursuit. It involves perseverance in faith, keeping our focus on Christ, actively living out our faith, serving others, and participating in the Great Commission. As we step into the new year, let us recommit ourselves to this high calling, seeking to grow closer to Christ and to reflect His love and truth in every area of our lives.






Summary and Life Application


As we conclude, let us reflect on the profound lessons we’ve gleaned from this sermon. We’ve explored the importance of giving thanks for both the successes and challenges of the past year, understanding that each experience shapes us and strengthens our faith. We’ve been reminded to embrace hope for the coming year, trusting in God’s perfect plan for our lives and seeking His guidance in every step. Finally, we’ve been encouraged to press onward towards our high calling in Christ, a journey marked by perseverance, faithfulness, and active service.


To apply these lessons practically, consider keeping a gratitude journal to chronicle God’s faithfulness throughout the year. This simple practice can transform our perspective, enabling us to see God’s hand in every situation. Additionally, make a habit of seeking God’s direction through regular prayer and meditation on His Word. This discipline will anchor us in truth and provide clarity for our decisions.


Set spiritual goals for the upcoming year that align with your calling in Christ. These goals could range from deepening your prayer life, engaging in more consistent Bible study, or actively serving in a ministry.


I challenge each member of our congregation to identify one specific area of spiritual growth to focus on in the coming year. Commit to a concrete plan of action, whether it’s joining a small group, starting a new devotional practice, or volunteering for a service opportunity.


Let us close with a prayer, asking for God’s blessing on us as we reflect on the past, hold onto hope for the future, and press on in our faith journey. May the Lord guide us, strengthen us, and use us for His glory in the coming year. Amen.




Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. (Psalm 37:5-6)


The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. (Psalm 28:7)

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