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
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ILL. One of the great sports stories of the decade of the 1990’s was of George Foreman regaining the heavyweight boxing championship of the world. At age 45, George Foreman, more than a decade past the prime of most fighters, knocked out his opponent, Michael Moorer, & regained the championship.
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.” Isn’t that great!
A. Now I think many of us make a couple of mistakes as we get older.
1. #1, we try to deny or disguise the fact that we’re getting older. So we use anti-wrinkle cream, & get tummy tucks & face lifts, & use oil of delay – all in an effort to disguise that we’re getting older.
And certain slogans become popular with us: “You’re only as old as you feel.” “Life begins at 40.” “Those really aren’t wrinkles, they’re expression lines.” We have a lot of them, don’t we?
2. The second mistake we make is in thinking that when we get older we’ll be relieved of all responsibility - that we can just kick back & do nothing & drift off 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. We don’t have to get up at any certain time. We can stay up as late as we want, & do anything we choose. Vacations are great, aren’t they?
It is often during times like that we begin to fantasize about retirement & being able to live like that for the rest of our life. But I think it would get boring after a while, don’t you?
ILL. After he retired, one man wrote, “I get up in the morning & I dust off my wits. I go out & get the paper & I 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 attainments.”
Paul had many. 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.”
Jesus Christ came into the world for one reason, to save sinners & Paul says, “I’m right there at the top of the list. I’m the worst!’
Yet, I don’t care what your sins are, or how repulsive your life may be. Jesus died on the cross for you. And if God forgives you, you need to forgive yourself, too.
ILL. There’s a bumper sticker that say, “If Satan reminds you of your past, you remind him of his future.” I like that. He’s going to hell. But if your sin is covered by the blood of Jesus, you’re headed in a different direction.
ILL. We used to sing a chorus that went like this, “Gone, gone, gone, gone, yes, my sins are gone. Now my soul is free, & in my heart’s a song. Buried in the deepest sea. Yes, that’s good enough for me. I shall live eternally. Praise God, my sins are gone!’