I greet you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, wishing you the best. This message is intended to be the first in a series of monthly reflections that are intended to inspire and help you grow spiritually. Each month, with the favor of God, we will disseminate a different article where different topics and teachings will be addressed. They are created to serve you and to be shared with your contacts.
The Youth Department of the General Conference has other projects that will soon be made known, and whose purpose is to keep us in close contact as we collaborate in the wonderful work of knowing and loving Him who gave his life to redeem us.
The reflection of this month is based on Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Something to attain
In these words, Paul tells the brotherhood that he is longing for something. From the context it is understood to be about likeness to Christ, of His love, justification, and hope of the resurrection. Paul had a clear spiritual goal in mind. There is nothing worse in life than living without purpose. Many devote themselves to vegetating or burning their time in useless things, instead of taking advantage of each day to learn the beautiful lessons God desires to give us and extract the impetus of existence.
Someone once said that the human being perishes without a dream or a vision. On a secular level this issue is of vital importance, because people without a dream or vision, die in the lake of foolishness. Having an objective in life is a priority for every human being and especially for the Christian, because the results of our career depend on it.
By studying the Bible we will realize that it is God Himself who places goals in the human mind and is part of having been made in His image and likeness. God has goals and plans to bring them to bear: He decides to create, decides what He will create, and how he will do it, and finally brings it to action. The execution of the plan of redemption is another divine objective. That is why He also places goals in the heart, such as imitating Christ, being saints, (1 Peter 1:16; Ephesians 1:4); sharing the gospel (Mark 16:15); live in the pursuit of salvation. (Acts 16:31), etc.
Paul expected and believed in the crown of victory (2 Tim 4:8); in the power of Christ to overcome in the fight against evil (Phil 4:13); in the preaching of the gospel to the world (1 Cor. 9:16); to imitate Christ and be an example to the flock (1 Cor. 11: 1); in justification by faith (Rom 5:1); in the resurrection, and eternal life (1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17).
Forget what is left behind
Paul also presents the thought of not being anchored to the past. Looking back can be positive, but if we do it to take advantage of the lessons that experience left us, it will never be edifying if we use it to lament and cry over stumbling and unpleasant events. Paul speaks of “forgetting” what is left behind, not in the sense of being indifferent to our history, but of avoiding that which paralyzes us and burdens us with negativity. The memory is there, we cannot eliminate it, but we can prevent it from harming us.
In Isaiah we read: “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old (Isaiah 43:18).” It refers to not allowing the experience that embittered our existence in the past to continue to embitter the present, because he who is in Christ is a new creature, old things have passed away (2 Cor. 5:17).
What was or was not—what we did or stopped doing—is in the past. Remember youth, you are no longer the owner of your past but you can be the owner of your present. God can give you the strength to rectify your mistakes and do things as well as possible from this moment on with His help.
Reach for what is ahead
Paul is eminently practical in the life of faith, always looking for ways to do his duty well, yet without complicating matters. Many, even Christians, lose sight of the value and power of God’s promises. The promises offer us hope and propel us forward; nothing is worth being anchored to the past, nor can the present be fruitful if we do not have a vision of the eternal.
How can we be sure of salvation, that God has forgiven us in Christ and that we have His blessing, support, and love for this life and the life to come? We cannot base this on our poor human perception, but on the promises of God.
“So with all the promises of God’s word. In them He is speaking to us individually, speaking as directly as if we could listen to His voice. It is in these promises that Christ communicates to us His grace and power. They are leaves from that tree which is ‘for the healing of the nations.’ Revelation 22:2. Received, assimilated, they are to be the strength of the character, the inspiration and sustenance of the life. Nothing else can have such healing power. Nothing besides can impart the courage and faith which give vital energy to the whole being. The Ministry of Healing, pg. 122.
To know these promises you must study your Bible and keep its treasures in your heart. Learn them by heart, repeat them again and again, make them yours. We are what we think and think about those things we contemplate, study, listen, and assimilate. For example, if you decide to spend some time every day watching or talking about football or something else inconsequential, you will be an expert in it. Contemplating the eternal, diving into the Word of God, learning its promises, will keep you calm, give you strength, courage, hope, faith, and love. Jesus found His strength in prayer and in the power of the Word: “It is written” was always his motto (Matt. 4:4), and he left us a duty to accomplish in our life: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” John 5:39.
Press toward the goal
Paul had a motto in his life, as is clear from the introduction text: “I press toward the mark.” This is a slogan of the innovative and successful people of our time. At a secular level it takes a lot of effort, determination, and tenacity to carry out any project, especially when they are of great importance. Companies know that a good slogan can make the difference between failure and success of their products or activities. To “pursue” means not to stop pursuing the goal or the proposed goal. Those who surrender fail on the way, but he who continues has many possibilities to achieve his dreams.
In the path of life that you have to travel, you will encounter many obstacles and difficulties that will prove your faith to the utmost. You will have difficult, very difficult moments too, as we all have. In these situations you must continue, press towards the goal without faltering, this is where the majority fail. All Christians are on the way to heaven, but not all of us are going to arrive. In the great marathons, thousands participate, but not all of them reach the finish line. The winners comment that it is fundamental for success not to faint, to have the fixed determination of reaching the goal and the recognition that one will obtain it, regardless of the difficulties, distance, competitors, and other factors. Continue and press until you reach the prize.
In the epistles of John to the seven churches of the Apocalypse, a common denominator appears in all of them: to reach the final prize. “To him that overcometh”. The one who wins the Christian race will win the heavenly prize that God calls us to receive through Jesus Christ (Phil 2:14). God’s plan is that you, me, and all of His children, live a life in which we hate sin, resist evil, and overcome every temptation. For this we have at our disposal the power offered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). It is not a war in which you are alone, dear youth. Jesus is by your side and will not abandon you, He has promised it (Deut. 31:8). Paul himself urges us to run the race of life with our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2) on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1-4).
Another year is coming to an end. This means, that so far, the door of grace is still open and that the Lord has had mercy on humanity. Take the opportunity to make new plans in your life for this upcoming year.
Dear youth, I encourage you not to faint, to keep going. If you are confused, if you are discouraged, if you’ve made mistakes, it does not matter, arise and return to the Father. Allow that storm to pass and rewrite your life. Continue, press forward, persevere. Set yourself in order with God. There is an abundant grace and mercy in Him to be exhausted. Do not focus on what you did not reach, on your failures, on your limitations; look at what is ahead and continue in the name of the Lord. There is much that God wants to give you; do not reject Him.
“Those who put their trust in Christ are not to be enslaved by any hereditary or cultivated habit or tendency. Instead of being held in bondage to the lower nature, they are to rule every appetite and passion. God has not left us to battle with evil in our own finite strength. Whatever may be our inherited or cultivated tendencies to wrong, we can overcome through the power that He is ready to impart.” The Ministry of Healing, pg. 175.
May the Lord bless you greatly and grant you His peace and love. Amen.
José Vicente Giner
Pastor and Director of the Youth Department