Summary: What kind of mindset should we have as we approach a new year? Using Paul's comments in Phil. 3, this message identifies three ways of thinking that should be embraced by all Christians.
Philippians 3:8-14 in NLT “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead!
12 I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.”
I want to focus, this morning, on Paul’s statement in vs 13, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.”
Today marks the beginning of a new year and the opportunity to access and possibly adjust our journey through life. Time is a gift from God. God is infinite in every way. He lives above the confines of time. Time and seasons were created for our benefit.i As finite beings, we are not equipped to handle timelessness. We need the journey divided into segments so that we can handle one step at a time. So we are taught by the Lord to pray, “Give us this day, our daily bread.” There is enough challenge in each day to keep us occupied (Matt.6:34).ii
In Eccl. 3:1 we read, ”To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: 2 A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; 3 A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; 7 A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; 8 A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.”iii
It is important to discern what season you’re in and manage your affairs accordingly. Life Church had a season in which we primarily focused on prayer and personal consecration. That is always important; but it is not always the prime focus. We are entering a new season—a season of outreach, a season of ministry to others, a season of fruitfulness. What do we do next? God is directing us by His Spirit and by circumstances. Circumstances beyond our control took us out of Executive Conference Center. It looks like we will be moving into the facility on Mellville Road. There are a few more details to work out; but we should have it confirmed next week. Along with everything else it represents new territory and new opportunity.
Paul’s words in Phil. 3:13 provide a good mindset for us to embrace as we enter into 2017. This is what I want to talk about this morning.
1st he acknowledges his current position.
When you go to the mall you will find a directory near the entry that shows you on a map where the stores are. But that’s not all it shows you. It also shows you where you are. In order to make progress we need to know where we’re going and where we are now. Your GPS does the same thing. Paul says in our text, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be….”
This was written in about 60 AD. Paul has been in ministry for 20 or 30 years.iv He is a seasoned, consecrated believer. He is the most effective Christian, the most effective apostle, alive (2 Cor. 12:11). He had led thousands to the Lord, turned cities upside down with the gospel, cast out demons, healed the sick. Yet, God is still working on him. He is still work-n-process. Phil.3:13 “I am still not all I should be….” (NLT). Look at his statement in verse 12 “I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be” (NLT).