Summary: In Phil. 3:12-16, Paul offers three principles to follow as we enter the new year: Forget your Past, Focus your Priorities, and Function in the Present.
New Year’s Resolutions
Scott R. Bayles, preacher
There is an old story about a happy little boy who went out into the field wearing a baseball cap. In one hand he carried a baseball, and in the other his trusty bat. His face bore a look of tremendous confidence. Cocking his bat, he tossed the ball into the air, saying, "I’m the greatest batter in the world!" Then he swung and missed. "Strike one," he said. He picked up the ball, examined it, and then threw it into the air again. As he swung, he repeated, "I’m the greatest batter in the world." Once again he missed. "Strike two," he said. This time, he stopped to examine his bat to make sure there wasn’t a hole in it. Then he picked up the ball, adjusted his cap, and tossed the ball into the air for the third time. He repeated again, "I’m the greatest batter in the world," and swung with all his might -- and missed for the third straight time. Now most boys might be discouraged by that, but this boy said, "Wow! I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!"
Today is the first Sunday of 2004, and as we look back over the last 12 months, I?m not sure whether most of us would consider ourselves pitchers or batters. One thing for sure, is that we have all struck out from time to time. So I guess it’s good to be able to start fresh. Boys and girls are back in school. Young people have headed off to college. And most of us have recovered from the holiday season and are well into doing our jobs and the activities of the new year.
As we anticipate the next 12 months, some people might eagerly look forward to what each day will bring. Others might be filled with dread, worried that this year will be worse than the last. Like the little with his baseball bat, I would suggest that our attitude will make all the difference in the coming year. How we react to its event will largely determine whether it is a year of victory or a year of defeat.
The Apostle Paul was never one to let circumstances conquer him. Rather, with the help of God, he was determined to win the victor?s crown. Let me invite you to read Philippians 3:12-16 with me and listen as Paul’s attitude shines through these words.
Philip. 3:12-16 (ESV)
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.  Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Paul’s personality, I believe, really comes through in these verses. And, with these thoughts, Paul lays out some principles concerning our attitude that we can carry with us into the New Year. The first of those principles is...
I. FORGETTING YOUR PAST:
At the end of verse thirteen, Paul said, "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead..." Humans are very special beings, in that God has given us the ability to remember. However, your memories can be you friend or your enemy.
Paul had a dreadful past and it could have easily haunted him for the rest of his life, if he allowed it. He persecuted the church. He used his authority to kill Christians. By his own admission he said, "I am the chief of sinners." He could have walked around all his life with this tremendous burden of guilt crippling him and he would never have become the great Apostle and missionary for God that he went on to be.
Many people dwell on their past failures, mistakes, and sins so much so that they become spiritually paralyzed, unable to live productively for God. Paul is telling us that we can turn our past sins and failures over to God and start moving "forward to what lies ahead."
Someone once said, "Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall." We’ve failed many times, although we may not remember. We fell down the first time we tried to walk. We probably almost drowned the first time we tried to swim. Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs. R. H. Macy failed seven times before his New York department store finally caught on. We can’t allow ourselves to become fixated on our failures. We are all human. We make mistakes. We sin. We fail. But what is worse, is missing the opportunities that God puts in front of us because we are afraid to fail.