Summary: We have a choice. We can live out the last years of life fearful of growing old, of being helpless, of being a burden, or we can live in great expectation of our Savior’s return. (Powerpoint available - #301)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoint for this sermon available at no charge. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for #301)
ILL. Look at the picture of the man up on the screen. It is the face of someone you have undoubtedly seen many times before.
He grew up in the toughest part of Houston, TX, in a family of 7 children, a perpetually drunken stepfather, & a mother who struggled to support them all. Being large for his age, he became a bully & a troublemaker, constantly getting into fights at school & in the neighborhood. Then, at age 15, he quit school.
He joined the Job Corp & moved to CA. where a supervisor offered to train him to be a boxer. He did very well & was chosen to be on the U.S. Boxing Team for the 1968 Olympics where he won a gold medal.
Then, at age 19, he turned Professional & won 45 of his next 47 fights, including, at age 24, defeating Joe Frazier, the World Champion title holder. So now he was the WBA & WBC Heavyweight Champion of the world. Four years later, at age 28 he lost the championship & retired.
Then 10 years after that he came out of retirement & the result was one of the great sports stories of the 1990’s. At age 45, 20 years after he had first retired, & being more than a decade past the prime of most fighters, he knocked out his opponent, Michael Moorer, & regained the Heavyweight Championship of the world.
Almost immediately, advertisers flocked around him, wanting him to endorse their products because, they said, “George Foreman has become the hero of every old, fat, & bald person in this country.”
A. Now how do we face growing older? I think a couple of mistakes that many of us make are:
#1, we try to deny or disguise the fact that we are getting older. And certain slogans become popular with us: “You’re only as old as you feel.” “Life begins at 40.” “Those aren’t wrinkles, they’re expression lines.” And we have a lot more of them, too.
# 2, The second mistake we make is in thinking that when we get older we’ll be relieved of our responsibilities - that we can lean back & fade into the sunset.
When we’re younger & raising children, with all the stresses of life, we look forward to vacations. We take off with the family, go wherever we want, & do anything we choose. Our vacations are great!
And it is often during such vacations that we begin to fantasize about retirement & being able to live like that for the rest of our life. But that can get boring after a while.
ILL. After he retired, one man wrote, “I get up in the morning & dust off my wits. I go out, get the paper & read the obits. If my name is missing, I know I’m not dead. So I eat a good breakfast, & go back to bed.”
B. Our Scripture text this morning is Philippians 3:12-21. And when we look at it, you need to realize that as Paul wrote those words, he’s a prisoner in Rome, awaiting trial & possible execution. He’s also an old man, & he knows that his life is winding down. So it’s important we hear what he has to say.
In vs’s 12-14, Paul writes, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 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.”
I. FORGET WHAT IS PAST
A. The first thing Paul tells us is, “Forget the past. Don’t bask in it. Don’t dwell on your achievements.”
Paul had many attainments. He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, of the tribe of Benjamin, & a strict Pharisee. His credentials as a Jew were faultless. But Paul says, “When I compare all that to knowing Christ, those things are as trash.”
B. Then Paul says, “Let God wipe away your sins.” In 1 Timothy 1:13-15, Paul writes, “Even though I was once a blasphemer & a persecutor & a violent man, I was shown mercy… The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly…
"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.”