Summary: The New Year is a a time when we as the apostle Paul said “forget those things which are behind” (Phil. 3:13) and face the challenge of a new day and a new year.
Note: Source material for this sermon has been gleaned from many different sources. I have attempted to acknowledge these sources whenever possible.
A New Year’s Challenge, Covenant and Call to Commitment
Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; 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.
Today is the first day of a new year. Though there is no real difference between it and any other day, yet in our minds and thoughts it represents a time to reset and begin anew. It is a time when we as the apostle Paul said “forget those things which are behind” (Phil. 3:13) and face the challenge of a new day and a new year.
I. The Challenges of a New Year
A. Forget the Past
1. Philippians 3:13 “...forgetting those things which are behind...”
2. Phillips Translation – “My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead.”
3. David Guzik, “We often let those things which are behind distract us, whether they be "good" things or "bad" things, we may let them keep us from what God has in front of us. Satan wants us to live either in the past or in the future; God wants us to press on in the present, because the present is where eternity touches us now. Paul knows that a race is won only in the present, not in the past or in the future.” - Guzik, David. "Commentary on Philippians 3". "David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible" 1997-2003
4. Italians, have a custom. In many communities, as midnight on New Year’s Eve approaches, the streets are dear. There is no traffic; there are no pedestrians; even the policemen take cover. Then, at the stroke of 12, the windows of the houses fly open. To the sound of laughter, music and fireworks, each member of the family pitches out old crockery, detested ornaments, hated furniture and all sorts of personal possessions which remind them of something in the past year they are determined to wipe out of their minds” (adapted from Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations).
5. The end of one year and the dawning of a new one provides an excellent opportunity to wipe the slate clean and make a fresh start. The well-known preacher Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) said: "We have passed through one more year. One more long stage in the journey of life, with its ascents and descents and dust and mud and rocks and thorns and burdens that wear the shoulders, is done. The old year is dead. Roll it away. Let it go. God, in His providence, has brought us out of it. It is gone; . . . its evil is gone; its good remains. The evil has perished, and the good survives." – Richard De Haan, Our Daily Bread, © RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI.
B. Grow Personally in Christ
1. A humorous birthday card read: “You are only young once, but you can be immature forever.”
2. The sad truth is too many Christians have made that their mantra. Paul said to the believers at Corinth, “I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:1)
3. We are challenged by God’s Word to grow...2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.”
4. We are called to come to a deeper awareness of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We are called to deepen our prayer lives. We are called to study and hide God’s Word in our hearts. We are called to be more Christ-like every day of our lives.
5. Proverbs 4:18 “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day.”
6. Spiritual growth is a choice that we must make.
C. Build the Kingdom through the Body of Christ.
1. Ephesians 4:11-13 (ESV) “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God”
2. If the body of Christ is to be build up, then the saints have to do the work of the ministry.
3. We build up the body with our presence - Hebrews 10:25 “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”