Summary: An annual message for reflection during New Year's

Out with the Old

New Year’s Message

December 30, 2012

Morning Service

Some of the questions for reflection are adapted from John Wesley and the material from Nelson Searcy's Year End Podcast.

10 Resolutions anyone can keep

1. Gain weight, at least 30 pounds.

2. Stop exercising. It’s a waste of time.

3. Read less. It makes you think.

4. Stop cooking. You should eat out more.

5. Get more credit cards.

6. Break at least one traffic law.

7. Focus on the faults of others.

8. Sleep in every chance you get.

9. Go on a chocolate-only diet

10. Never make New Year’s resolutions again.

Dan Mahan (Ringing in the New)

12 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. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, Philippians 3:12-14

Forgetting what is behind

The image that Paul pulls from society is one of a runner. Not just any runner but the lead runner. The lead runner needs to forget those who are behind and focus on the remainder of the race that lies ahead. The same is true of our walk with God.

There are things that are left behind, why do we insist on continually reliving those things? There are things that are in the past that are washed away by the redeeming blood of Jesus, we bear them no more. Why do we insist on looking back on those things? We are called to run our Christian race in the leader status. We are called to live the Christian life focused not on what we have left behind but on what we have yet to embrace.

Paul had a past that would be haunting to say the least. Before Paul had his life changing encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road, he was Saul the persecutor of the church. The only goal that Paul had was to wipe out Christianity and he was doing a good job. Paul became what he was trying to stop and destroy. He was changed by Christ and would never be the same. The memory of his past, made Paul view his previous life as rubbish. Paul moved beyond his past and we need to do the same. There is no way for us to do great things for God while we are wrapped up in the past.

Straining toward what is ahead

Paul continues the metaphor and imagery of the race. The goal of the runner is to reach the finish line. The goal that Paul is looking toward is the completion of Christ’s work in his life. The completion of that perfect relationship he was meant to have with God. Paul was looking forward to the day when the victory over sin would be complete. Paul was straining toward the moment when everything that Christ had died to provide would be his. The finish line is found only in heaven. It is in heaven that the work of Christ is made complete.

Paul was making a commitment to no longer live chained to his past. Paul was living with a glorious future in mind. Paul was focused on the finishing of Christ’s work. We need to set our sights on the work that is to be finished. We need to get focused on the day that Jesus completes His work in us.

Judgmental behavior flows out of the unfinished work of God. The problem is that we often look at what Jesus is doing in other people and judge the unfinished work. We do not have the right to judge anyone. We should be asking the question, how do we want God to treat us? Are we treating other people in the same manner? If the answer on our treatment is no, we have a major problem that needs correcting. Stop looking at others and strain toward what is ahead.

Paul called on the church to go through a period of self examination before participating in the Lord’s Supper. John Wesley formed a series of questions that were asked on a regular basis of those who were part of The Holy Club. The Holy Club became the basis for the rise of a holiness movement. An insulting name was given to the group and they were consistently called Methodists.

Following the pattern of Wesley we are going to do some personal self-examination this morning.

Ten Point Self Examination

Am I closer to God now than January 1st 2012?

If yes, what are you doing to keep growing in 2013?

Spiritual growth is not static or still. To keep growing, we must be willing to continue to put an effort into spiritual disciplines.

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