Summary: In this new year, let’s make this one simple resolution -we’re going to make a change for the better. (Powerpoint available - #329)
"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind & 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."
Now stop for a moment & ask yourself, "What is Paul trying to grab hold of?" Paul tells us in vs. 10, "I want to know Christ & the power of His resurrection & the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, & so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."
What is he reaching for? What is his goal? Paul's goal is the resurrection from the dead. His goal is eternal life with Jesus. That is what he is reaching for & striving for every day. His goal is heaven.
APPL. Now here is the point. If our goal is heaven, if our goal is eternal life with Jesus Christ, then all these little setbacks in life are only stepping stones getting us closer to the time when we will be with Jesus.
There will be disappointments in life, but every day that passes is one day closer to the time when we will be with Jesus. If that is our goal, then Romans 8:28 is true. "All things" do "work together for good to those who love God & are called according to his purpose."
C. The world says that the way to feel good about yourself is by climbing the ladder of success by making a lot of money by having influential friends by receiving a lot of awards by belonging to the right circles. Those are the things that make you feel good about yourself.
But the Bible teaches us that we are to feel good about ourselves because God loves us. You are such a treasured person in God's sight that He gave His only Begotten Son for you. That makes you valuable, & you can feel good about yourself.
ILL. Frank Peretti said, "It's no wonder that our young people today have poor self images when they go to school & read books that tell them that they are the products of blind chance that they are just accidents of nature unplanned, unloved, & unwanted.”
But the Bible tells us that we are wanted & loved & cared for by God Himself.
ILL. Jim Valvano was head coach of the N.C. basketball team. He rose to fame when his team started winning championships. Everybody liked him. He was always cracking jokes & had a winning way of dealing with people.
But in 1991 Valvano learned that he had inoperable bone cancer. During Christmas time, 1992, he said, "It's difficult to be thankful this Christmas because I'm not sure I'll be here next Christmas." And he wasn't. He died in 1993. "But," he said, "this Christmas I'm getting down on my knees & thanking God for every day of the 46 years of my life."
He was positive about life because he realized that life is a very precious gift God has given us. It must sadden the Lord that oftentimes we take this gift He has given, & don't treasure it for the precious thing that it is.
II. DEVELOP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE TOWARD THE CHURCH
Secondly, I think we need to have a positive attitude toward the church. I don't say this in a self serving way at all because one thing that is right about the church is that our desire is simply to lift up Jesus, to reach out to a lost & dying world with the message of salvation. Yet, at times I hear people criticizing the church.