Summary: This is a New Year message focused on our decision to move beyond our past to press towards the goal within our future. It asks the reader to consider the impact of past failures on our present and future plans.
I’m Pressing On
Scriptures: Philippians 3:8-14; 4:13
We have entered into a new year that represents a year of change for our lives. This year represents the first year of the rest of our lives. This statement will make more sense shortly. The title of my message this morning is “I’m Pressing On.”
Each New Year brings on the excitement of new possibilities of what lies ahead. Each New Year also causes us to reflect on the opportunities and or possibilities that were unfulfilled in the previous year. It is those missed and unfulfilled opportunities and possibilities that lead many to establish New Year resolutions at the beginning of a new year. We want to make changes so that in the upcoming year we will not make the same decisions that led to how we finished the previous year. For some people they refuse to make New Year’s resolutions because they always fail to complete them so their thinking is why try when they know they will fail. Everyone sitting under the sound of my voice has experienced some unfulfilled personal promises and missed opportunities at some point in your life. How we think about our “failure” with these unfulfilled personal promises or missed opportunities impact how we think about our future. For example, maybe you had planned to pray more only to discover that life kept you in the same habits from the previous year so this year your plan is to do “the best you can” without setting any specific goals. The impact of not hitting your goal last year stops you for setting a new goal and potentially failing this year. Maybe you had planned to lose weight last year only to find that you weigh a little bit more on December 31st than you did on January 1st 2016. So this year maybe your goal is not to gain any additional weight versus actually losing what you currently have. Again, the failure of the past impacts the goals of the future. If you have unfulfilled promises and missed opportunities from 2016 that you are thinking about in this New Year I want you to listen closely to this message for you are not alone.
There are many people walking around in the daylight but living under the cloud of something from their past. It follows them wherever they go and it is always there. No matter how bright the “Son” is in our life this cloud cast its shadow of our past failures and disappointments and seem to always take away our ability to enjoy our present. All of us know someone who is “living in the past” and are operating based on protecting their future based on the past failures. While I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist I do know this, we have all failed and have come short of our goals. We have all been hurt and felt the need to protect ourselves moving forward. We have all done stupid things that if we could take them back and wipe the slate clean we would. We all have pasts that continue to influence our present and potentially our future. Mistakes and failures are a part of life, but at some point we have to start looking ahead and stop looking behind. We have to focus on where we are going versus where we left. This focus will require that we put some things behind us so that we can walk freely into our future. Turn with me to Philippians 3: 8-14.
“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3: 8-14)
In verse eight Paul states that he counts all things as loss in view of his knowledge and acceptance of Christ Jesus. In other words, there was nothing more valuable to him that what he had in Christ. He stated that he had lost all things for Christ and he was telling the truth. Prior to his acceptance of Christ, Paul had an impeccable pedigree and status. He walked away from all of it and actually counted it as rubbish in light of what he learned and received in Christ. In verse nine he talked about the righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus Christ versus what he thought he had attained under the Law of Moses. Prior to his conversion Paul believed that he had attained righteousness through his actions in following the Law. That is what made him so dedicated in persecuting Christians because in his eyes he was on a righteous journey against those who were actually operating outside the Law of Moses. Before his conversion he had powerful friends in high places; after his conversion, he had powerful enemies in those same high places. Before his conversion he had financial security; after his conversion, he lived off the generosity of others. Before his conversion he probably had a nice home with servants. After his conversion he was homeless and lives with other Christians as he traveled delivering the word of Christ (that is when he was not living in prison because of the same Christ that he now professed such a faith in.) Paul said he lost it all, willingly, to follow Christ. He gave it all up for something he valued more than any earthly possession he had, eternal life and the resurrection from the dead to be with Christ (verse 11).