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Summary: New Year's message.

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Behind and Before

Philippians 3:

Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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I. The Deficit – “…Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended…”

Clarke observes that: In spite of any gifts or graces or honors that he has received, he still is incomplete until that day when he finishes his course and receives his crown from the Lord. Paul was keenly aware of his deficiencies. Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

DEAD OR ALIVE?

ILL -When elderly Adele Gaboury turned up missing four years ago, concerned neighbors in Worcester, Massachusetts, informed the police. A brother told police she had gone into a nursing home. Satisfied with that information, Gaboury’s neighbors began watching her property. Michael Crowley noticed her mail, delivered through a slot in the door, piling high. When he opened the door, hundreds of pieces of mail drifted out. He notified police, and the deliveries were stopped. Gaboury’s next-door neighbor, Eileen Dugan, started paying her grandson $10 twice a month to mow Gaboury’s lawn. Later Dugan’s son noticed Gaboury’s pipes had frozen, spilling water out the door. The utility company was called to shut off the water. What no one guessed was that while they’d been trying to help, Gaboury had been inside her home. When police finally investigated the house as a health hazard, they were shocked to find her body. The Washington Post (10/27/93) reported that police believe Gaboury died of natural causes four years ago. The respectable, external appearance of Gaboury’s house had hidden the reality of what was on the inside. Something similar can happen to people: We may appear outwardly proper while spiritually dead. All sorts of religious activity may be happening outside, while the real problem is missed: spiritual death on the inside.

SOURCE: Vialo Weis, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 3.) Contributed by Gerald Flurry

II. The Determination – “…but this one thing I do…”

The sole business and concern of my life, the thing that I am devoted to, the thing that occupies my thoughts, hope, dreams, plans and aspirations is this journey that I am on. Nothing else takes precedence over it.

PRAY TILL YOU GET COOKIES

ILL - We should be like the 3-year-old boy (that Paul Harvey told about) who went to the grocery store with his mother. Before they entered the grocery store she said to him, "Now you’re not going to get any chocolate chip cookies and so don’t even ask." She put him up in the cart & he sat in the little child’s seat while she wheeled down the aisles. He was doing just fine until they came to the cookie section. He saw the chocolate chip cookies & he stood up in the seat & said, “Mom, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you not even to ask. You’re not going to get any at all.” So he sat back down. They continued down the aisles, but in their search for certain items they ended up back in the cookie aisle. “Mom, can I please have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you that you can’t have any. Now sit down & be quiet.”

Finally, they were approaching the checkout lane. The little boy sensed that this may be his last chance. So just before they got to the line, he stood up on the seat of the cart & shouted in his loudest voice, “In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?” And everybody round about just laughed. Some even applauded. And, due to the generosity of the other shoppers, the little boy & his mother left with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies.

Jeff Strite in "The Power Of Persistent Prayer" on www.sermoncentral.com.

WHY AM I SO EXHAUSTED?

ILL - I decide to water my garden. As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and decide it needs washing. As I start toward the garage, I notice mail on the porch table that I brought up from the mail box earlier. I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car. I lay my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the rubbish bin under the table, and notice that the bin is full. So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the rubbish first. But then I think, since I’m going to be near the mailbox when I take out the rubbish anyway, I may as well pay the bills first. I take my check book off the table, and see that there is only one check left. My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find the can of soda I’d been drinking. I’m going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the soda can aside so that I don’t accidentally knock it over. I feel the soda getting warm, so I decide to put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold. As I head toward the kitchen with the can, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye--they need water. I put the can on the counter and find my reading glasses that I’ve been searching for all morning. I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I’m going to water the flowers. I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote someone left it on the kitchen table. I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, I’ll be looking for the remote, but I won’t remember that it’s on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the living room where it belongs, but first I’ll water the flowers. I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spills on the floor. So, I set the remote back on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill. Then I head down the hall, trying to remember what I was planning to do. At the end of the day, the car isn’t washed, the bills aren’t paid, there is a warm can of soda sitting on the counter, the flowers don’t have enough water, there is still only one check in my check book, I can’t find the remote, I can’t find my glasses, and I don’t remember what I did with the car keys. Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I’m really baffled because I know I was busy all day, and I’m really tired.

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