Those who know me personally will find this quite hard to believe but at one time in my distant past I was a runner. Cross-country to be exact and many years and pounds ago I could not only keep up but was 6th in the county, and yes there were a few more than 7 competing! Though not for cross-country the phrase “Right out of the blocks” describes a sprinter blasting out of the starting blocks at the beginning of a short distance race. In other words, starting out well in the race. Not a bad time of year to think on these things as we close the door on one year and open the door on another. Packaged in a letter to a young church the New Testament letter to the church at Philippi from Paul gives to us timeless principles for being “Right out of the blocks.” He writes, “but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” This is an amazing time of the year. A time where we are blessed with the wherewithal to assess where we have been, where we are, and were we are going. What we learn from our past helps us to make necessary changes for the future and the time to make the changes is at the present moment we are in!

The first “Right out of the blocks” principle is this, recognize the value of time! I would imagine that the last 12 months were nothing like you thought they would be. The enemy of every soul works tirelessly to destroy all that is good. I remember reading the comments of Dave Roper years back… “Satan’s proposals always begin with a false lead, lie, some subtle twist to the truth which if acted upon would tear us away from God. And if followed to the end would terminate us. His proposals rarely seem evil, more often they come under the guise of good. Satan adds a sprinkle of grace and beauty to every lure lest we recognize its lethal toxicity Its very easy to be taken. We must meet every one of Satan’s lies with truth! This life is not a playground but a battleground! Of course we know that time is a human invention. I’m convinced that God doesn’t wear a wristwatch, or use a calendar. God deals with eternity, & therefore time is not an important factor with Him but time is important to us because we live in a limited time frame. We measure life in segments of time. If you’re around my age, you’re beginning to realize that life’s not really very long at all!

The second “Right out of the blocks” principle is don’t be in bondage to the past!

We are special beings in that God has given us the ability to remember. Your memory may be your friend or your enemy. Paul had a very shaky past. He persecuted the church. He used his authority to kill Christians. By his own admission he said, “I am chief of sinners.” He could have walked around all his life with this tremendous burden of guilt crippling him & he would never have become the great apostle we know & love today. But Paul said, “…forgetting what is behind…” In other words, “God, I commit it to you. I seek your forgiveness for all the sins of the past, & I look forward to what lies ahead. And right now I’m going to live today the best I can.” I believe that is good advice for us as well.

The third “Right out of the blocks” principle is establish strong priorities in our lives! What Paul said was, “The top priority in my life is to press on toward the goal for the prize for which God has called me.” I have heard this is as easy as ABC, A- Accept responsibility,

B – Believe I can change with God’s help, C – Clarify priorities. Let me add a D here, D – Don’t wait to begin. Nicholaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf was born into one of Europe’s leading families in the year 1700, and he grew up in an atmosphere of prayer, Bible-reading, and hymn-singing. He excelled in school, and seemed to posses all the qualities for national leadership. After finishing his university studies at Wittenberg, Germany, Zinzendorf embarked on a grand tour of Europe, attending lectures and visiting museums, palaces, and universities. It was while visiting the art museum at Dusseldorf that the young count had a deeply moving experience that stayed with him the rest of his life. Seeing Domenico Feti’s Ecce Homo (“Behold the Man”), a portrait of the thorn-crowned Jesus, and reading the inscription below it “I Did This For Thee! What Hast Thou Done For Me?” Zinzendorf said to himself, “I have loved Him for a long time, but I have never actually done anything for Him. From now on, I will do whatever He leads me to do.” With God’s help we can get Right out of the Blocks in 2016!

By Rev. Tim Throckmorton

Crossroads Church