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Summary: A New Year’s message designed to encourage change and growth.

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PRESSING ON INTO THE NEW YEAR

Philippians 3:12-14

INTRODUCTION: At this time every year many of us make resolutions. We resolve to lose weight, to exercise more, to be a better person, to dispense with old bad habits and begin some new good ones. None of those are surprising, but I have found a few that are. A newspaper in Boston has allowed people to post New Year’s resolutions on their web-site. Here are a few interesting ones:

I resolve to stop feeding the office plant leftover coffee. I will use water instead.

I resolve to try and get a law passed that requires every person on the face of this earth to have to use their common sense at least once a day!

I resolve to try REAL hard to stop eating McDonalds and Wendy’s for 2 out of 3 meals a day. If that isn’t possible, I promise to at least clean the remains from my car.

I resolve to become as wonderful a person as my dog thinks I am.

I resolve to never take responsibility for my decisions, to never take the blame, not stand by my promises, and to ignore the needs of the poor. In short, my resolution is to become a politician!

Webster defines a resolution as "a course of action decided upon; a fixed purpose."

I. LET GO OF PAST ACCOMPISHMENTS

A. We have had a great year here at Westwood. We have seen steady growth through evangelism and hospitality that has produced many baptisms and new members. Beginning last Spring our contribution took a great jump and easily exceeded our budget.

1. We have produced great events such as Amazing Discoveries, Change the World, and The Verge each one drawing 100’s of people from all walks of life. We launched a new outreach program with Faith In Action that is making great progress.

2. We increased our presence in the community through our radio program, The Community Greeting Service, and the local newspaper. We gave thousands of dollars to the disaster relief effort in New York. And we are nearing the completion of a new 3/4 million-dollar multi-purpose facility, something we have needed for a long, long time.

3. In fact this seems to be an ongoing legacy for this church. Always working, always helping, always growing. And now approaching 50 years in this place, the sustained effort and growth has been phenomenal, in spite of the adversities that came along on occasion.

B. Yet as great and praiseworthy all of that is, the last thing we need to do is to live in the glory days of the past. Those days are gone. We cannot revisit them, even if we wanted to, and they will never come our way again. We must let them go.

1. This is the sentiment Paul expresses in Philippians 3:13. He states that he is forgetting those things that are behind him. He is letting them go. His heritage, his prestige, his wealth, his influence, the acceptance of the religious elite – all of it counted as rubbish.

2. Not only that, but I also believe he is leaving behind all his accomplishments as an apostle – "have not attained." He had converted thousands, preached the Gospel all over the Middle East, Asia Minor, and now into Europe. He had established countless churches/congregations and had never failed to give witness to the Gospel message.

3. But that was the past and he was not content to dwell in it. Neither should we.

a. Isaiah 43:18

b. Luke 9:62

c. II Corinthians 3:10,11

C. All that we have done, all of the great blessings we have received, all of the wonderful works and grand accomplishments that have been a part of our past are just that – the past. We need to let them go.

II. PRESS ON INTO BETTER THINGS

A. Someone once said that the future is like a blank canvas waiting for the artist to produce a masterpiece on it. I like that, because the future, this New Year we anticipate, has yet to be written. It is wide open – full of new challenges and new opportunities.

1. What lies ahead for us on one can predict. I am sure there will be moments of sadness as well as moments of joy. There will be more baptisms, more new members, more growth spiritually, numerically and financially, all because God’s hand rests on us.

2. There is no way to know exactly what He has in store for Westwood, but knowing the great power of His presence and the tremendous impact of His blessings, whatever comes down the pike will be well worth receiving.

3. Our God is an awesome God! He will lead us to greater, better things. He will exalt His people, reward His people, and establish His people in the midst of all He is.

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