3:13, 14 NIV) Brothers, 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.
A new year is already upon us. A new year, a new millennium, a new beginning. I love the song that goes “Morning by morning, new mercies I see. Great Is thy faithfulness…” That song was taken from Lamentations 3:22 and 23:
(Lam 3:22, 23 KJV) “It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”
I praise God for a fresh start every day. And now as we go into the new year I am reminded of so many resolutions that I made in past years. I read a church sign last week that said; “Resolutions come in and go out with the passing year.” I think it was talking about how we very rarely keep our New Year’s resolutions.
I believe we
all want to be better next year than we are today. Some people make resolutions
to loose weight, others to quit smoking. Some people make resolutions to drink
less while others vow to control their anger. Some want to make more money, some
say they will work fewer hours and spend more time with their family. No matter
what the resolution I believe that as we look into the Word of God we will be
able to find the keys that unlock our passage into a brighter future. In today’s
message I hope to cover three basic points that can be summed up in three words.
Resolve, repentance and rejoicing.
The first thing I want to do is to look at the above scripture and find some relevant truth to our New Years discussion. Paul in his letter to the Philippians admits first of all of not fully attaining the prize. He has not “arrived.” How many of us know that we still have a long way to go. We know that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and we discovered that the wages of our sin was death but thanks be to God the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. We know that the moment that we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior we received eternal life. We have been filled with the Holy Spirit of God and we are forgiven, all of our sins are removed as far as the east is to the west. Yet even with all of that we still know that we have a long way to go. We have defects in our personalities, Weaknesses and quick tempers. We have bodies that are giving out on us and our minds are too forgetful. We are tempted and fall pray to the temptations. We are desirous of material possessions and give up family and friends to pursue success.
The first step
in getting better is realizing you have to. The first step in healing is to know
you are sick. The first step in changing the direction you are going is to come
to the conclusion that you have been going in the wrong direction. If you were
driving on a trip, and I am sure we have all done this before, and you realize
that you are going south when you were suppose to be going north, or east when
you should be going west you do not keep going the wrong way. Well, I know at
first you may try to justify your “short cut.” But when you finally come to your
scenes and admit that you are going the wrong way you start looking for the next
exit in order to turn around. That feeling you have between the time that you
realize your mistake and finding the exit is resolve. You have determined in
your mind that you are going to turn around. Now you can not wait. You start
going a little bit faster, looking for an exit a little harder. Your grip on the
wheel gets a little tighter and you sit up straight, driving with purpose.
There is no
point kicking your self for the lost time and miles spent going in the wrong
direction. That is why Paul talks about forgetting what is behind. We need to
let go of the past if we are to go forward. We too often hang onto our own
mistakes and failures and allow them to be weights around our necks and ankles
keeping us from running the race of victorious living. That is why the writer of
Hebrews tells us to shake off the weights that easily besets us: (Heb 12:1 KJV)
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of
witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset
us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”
Last year is behind us, with all its struggles and triumphs. It is time to put the past in the past and look to brighter days ahead. We can all look back over the past year and find both blessings and downfalls. We can of course use the lessons we have learned over the past year and rejoice in the memories of good friends and loved ones to help us formulate our goals for the coming year. This is not the time for reminiscing, this is a time for casting a fresh vision.
Going back to
our scripture verse we read how Paul explained that it comes down to this one
thing: forgetting the past and pressing onward. The resolutions that we have
been making over the years have all been too small. We have failed to keep them
because we could not see the importance of straining to keep them. What we need
is to grab hold of the vision of Christ Jesus and go after Him with all our
hearts. As we seek the Kingdom of God. I mean as we really go after the things
of God, everything else will fall into place. It is kind of like driving. When I
first learned to drive my focus was just a few feet in front of the car. When
you put your focus so close to you, you end up swerving all over the place. It
was when I learned to concentrate on my destination ahead that my driving
smoothed out. It is the same with life. When we set our goals small not only
will it be difficult to reach them, in many cases we will fail in the trying.
But when we look past the ways and concentrate upon the means of things the way
comes along as we press towards our higher goal.
No matter what your resolutions have been in past years if you resolve today to go after God this next year like you never have before in your life, I can assure you by the word of God that you will be richly rewarded. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV) “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
There is a
direct correlation between the physical and the spiritual world. There are
spiritual laws that effect our physical world as well as the things we do in the
physical world effect our spiritual lives. God’s word is truth and so it is how
we react to the truth that determines our future. It is not the circumstances in
your life that makes the difference it is how you react to the circumstances
that makes all the difference. When we keep our eyes upon Jesus we can remain of
good cheer because it is with His strength and His righteousness that we have
the victory over all our trials and temptations.
So this years
resolution will be one of eternal perspective. This year let your New Year’s
resolution be to please God. Have faith in Him. Strive towards the high calling
that is in Him. God has called you from the foundation of the earth and wants
you to know that He loves you with an everlasting, never-ending love. If you
have never asked Jesus into your heart then now is the time of your salvation.
Say yes to the forgiveness of your sins. Say yes to an eternal home in heaven.
Say yes to the Holy Spirit filling you with the presence of the one true living
God. It is time to change directions and please God with all that you do for the
rest of your life.
Now for those of you who have been striving to please God for many years. Remember how the author of our scripture verse tried to please God. When Paul was known as Saul and he was a Pharisee of Pharisees. It was not until Paul discovered that He was going the wrong way on the road to Damascus that He turned His life around and began to please God by placing his faith in Jesus. Jesus is the way the truth and the life. There is no other way to the Father then by Christ Jesus our Lord. There is nothing that we can do to earn it but as we press towards a closer relationship with Him our entire lives are naturally changed as we go from glory to glory, faith to faith, day by day, being transformed by the Spirit of God. True faith in Christ will become manifested in our changed lives.
I will end
today with this. You might remember a few years ago how the Special Olympics
were in Seattle Washington. During one of the races nine contestants lined up at
the starting blocks and took off with the sound of the whistle. These Special
Olympiads were doing all they could to get towards the finish line. About half
way down the track one of the runners fell and cried out in pain. With the fall
of the runner and his cry the other eight runners stopped, turned around and
went back to their competitor. One girl bent down and gave the young man a kiss
on the cheek as the other runners helped him to his feet. The racers then linked
arms together and all nine of them walked to, and crossed the finish line
We would like
to link our arms in yours as we all head toward to prize that God has in store
for us. As we each hold closely to one another, each of us holding the treasure
of Jesus Christ in our hearts nothing is impossible. I want to wish you the most
blessed New Year. And not only wish, but I pray that our Heavenly Father give
you your hearts desire as you delight in Him in this new beginning.