Summary: New Year is a good time to refocus ourselves. In this new year's sermon, I suggest seven priorities for the new year that will give us 20/20 vision.
A. Happy New Year! This is 2020!! And today is the first Sunday of 2020!
1. It is hard to believe we are beginning the third decade of the 21st Century!
2. For many people the first week in January is the most depressing week of the year.
3. The holidays are over, the family and friends have gone home, the Christmas presents have been opened, and now its time to go back to work and school!
4. And even more depressing than that are the New Year’s resolutions we make and then so quickly break.
5. We tell ourselves, “This year I’m going to be more active in church. This year I’m going to get my finances in order. This year I’m going to get into better shape and be healthier.”
6. But then as the new year begins, and the rubber meets the road, the resolutions are discarded.
B. An old Irish New Year’s toast goes like this, “May all your troubles in the coming year be as short as your New Year’s resolutions.”
1. Today, I want to encourage us to think more positively than that.
2. Our awesome God offers us much more hope than that! Amen!
3. In 2 Cor. 5:17, Paul says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
4. Paul also wrote these words, even from a Roman jail where he was under arrest, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)
5. As we approach this new year, I want us to be praying this prayer of thanksgiving, “Lord, thank you for fresh starts.”
6. A new calendar year alerts us to the fact that we have been given a new beginning, the old year is past and the new year is before us.
7. Every new year and every new day is an opportunity to get it “righter” than the day before and the year before.
C. So on this first Sunday of the new year, I want to encourage us to make a commitment to focus more on spiritual things in the coming year.
1. One of the best NT texts on that subject is the one I chose for the Scripture reading.
2. Writing to the Colossian Christians, Paul reminds them: 1 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col. 3:1-3)
3. Those of us who are Christians have experienced both a spiritual death, and a spiritual birth.
4. All of our hopes and dreams, all of our purpose and power, are centered in Christ, who is seated at the right hand of God.
5. Therefore, our focus and priorities must no longer be centered in the things of this earth, rather, they must be centered on the things of God.
6. This, of course, is a very real challenge, because we still have to live in the real world, with all of its stress and struggle.
7. Focusing on spiritual things does not remove the stress and struggle altogether, but it certainly makes a huge difference in our ability to both survive and thrive.
D. As we try to live a more spiritually focused life in the new year, I want to point us toward 7 practical priorities.
I. Priority #1 - Forget About Yesterday.
A. The Apostle Paul wrote, “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.” (Phil. 3:13-14)
1. As we know, Paul was a man who had some things from his past that could haunt him if he let them.
2. Paul had made some terrible mistakes that brought great suffering to others.
B. And certainly, there is not one of us who doesn’t have something negative and sinful in our past that could immobilize us, if we let it.
1. Failures, hurts, disappointments happen to all of us.
2. But God does not want us dwelling on them.
3. What God wants us to do is to come to Him for forgiveness and healing about the pain and regret of yesterday.
4. When we bring these things to God, we receive God’s forgiveness.
5. This forgiveness is God’s gift to us so that we can walk in newness of life, so that we can forget those things in the past and be able to live in the present.
6. So this is a good place for us to start the new year – let’s put the past behind us and forget about yesterday.