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Summary: In this sermon I borrowed and built on the seven priorities from a sermon by SermonCentral contributor, Darrell Garrett called "How to Meet the New Year".

Introduction:

A. Happy New Year! This is the first Sunday of 2008! It is hard to believe we are almost through the first decade of the 21st Century!

1. For many people the first week in January is the most depressing week of the year.

2. The holidays are over, the family and friends have gone home, the Christmas presents have been opened, and now its time to go back to work and school!

3. And even more depressing than that are the new year’s resolutions we make and then so quickly break.

4. We tell ourselves, next year I’m going to be more active in church. Next year I’m going to get my finances in order. Next year I’m going to get into better shape.

5. Then December 31st, turns to January 1st, and the rubber meets the road.

B. An old Irish New Year’s toast goes like this, “May all your troubles in the coming year be as short as your New Year’s resolutions.”

1. I would really like to think more positively than that.

2. God offers us more hope than that.

3. In 2 Cor. 5:17, Paul says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

4. Paul also wrote these words from a Roman jail, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)

5. As we approach this new year, I want us to be praying a prayer of thanksgiving, “Thank you, Lord, for fresh starts.”

6. A new calendar tells us that we have been given a fresh gift to build and change our lives.

7. Every new year and every new day is an opportunity to get it “righter” than the day before and the year before.

C. So on this first Sunday of the new year, I want to encourage us to make a commitment to focus more on spiritual things in the coming year.

1. One of the best NT texts on that subject is the one I chose for the Scripture reading.

2. Writing to the Colossian Christians, Paul reminds them, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:1-3)

3. Those of us who are Christians have experienced both a spiritual death, and a spiritual birth.

4. All of our hopes and dreams, purpose and power are centered in Christ, who is seated at the right hand of God.

5. Our focus and priorities must no longer be centered in the things of this earth, but on the things of God.

6. This, of course, is a very real challenge, because we still have to live in the real world, with all of its stress and struggle.

7. Focusing on spiritual things does not remove the stress and struggle altogether, but it certainly makes a huge difference in our ability to both survive and thrive.

D. As we try to live a more spiritually focused life in the new year, I want to point us toward 7 practical priorities.

I. Priority #1 - Forget About Yesterday.

A. The Apostle Paul wrote, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and 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.” (Phil. 3:13-14)

1. As we know, Paul was a man who had some things from his past that could haunt him if he let them. He had made some terrible mistakes that brought great suffering to others.

B. There is not one of us who doesn’t have something negative in our past that could immobilize us.

1. Failures, hurts, disappointments happen to all of us.

2. But God does not want us dwelling on them.

3. God would have us come to him for forgiveness and healing about the pain and regret of yesterday.

4. It is God’s gift to us that we can walk in newness of life, that we can forget those things in the past and live in the present.

5. So that’s a good place for us to start the new year, to forget about yesterday.

II. Priority #2 - Don’t Worry about Tomorrow.

A. I know that this is easier said than done.

1. Tomorrow can be so overwhelming with the potential for pain and insufficiency.

B. Jesus gave us this prescription, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?...So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Mt. 6:25-27, 32-34)

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