Summary: This sermon is about setting goals for the new year, making a plan to realistically achieve those goals and having persistence to follow your plan to the end.
Reaching Forth in the New Year
January 3, 2010 (AM) / January 4, 2015 (PM)
TEXT: Philippians 3:12-14– “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
A few days ago we began a new year. Traditionally, we make New Years Resolutions, but we don’t always do so well, do we?
Joke – Dan Mahan was quoted as saying, “It’s time to make New Year resolutions. Have you made yours yet? Last New Years I made 6 resolutions and I am proud to say that I kept them all year long. I kept them in an envelope in the top drawer of my desk!”
Illus. – I read this week about a high school principal who decided to post his teachers’ new year’s resolutions on the bulletin board. As the teachers gathered around the bulletin board, a great commotion started. One of the teachers was complaining.
“Why weren’t my resolutions posted?” she protested.
She was throwing such a temper tantrum that the principal hurried to his office to see if he had overlooked her resolutions. Sure enough, he had mislaid them on his desk. As he read her resolutions he was astounded. This teacher’s first resolution was not to let little things upset her in the New Year!
Well, why do we make New Year’s resolutions? We do them because we recognize that we need to improve on some areas in our lives. We can’t change the previous year, but we can do something about a new year.
But I hope your resolutions this year are a little deeper than “I resolve to lose 20 pounds.” There’d be nothing wrong with those kinds of resolutions, of course. In fact, I could stand to make that resolution this year myself after packing on a few pounds myself during the Christmas season.
Illus. – Katina Fisher writes about helping one another with their New Year’s diets: “My friend Kimberly announced that she had started a diet to lose some pounds she had put on recently. ‘Good!’ I exclaimed. ‘I’m ready to start a diet too. We can be dieting buddies and help each other out. When I feel the urge to drive out and get a burger and fries, I’ll call you first.’ ‘Great!’ she replied. ‘I'll ride with you.’”
Nothing wrong with that kind of resolution, but as I said, I hope you went a little deeper than that and had some loftier goals than merely physical goals.
I don’t know about you, but as I enter a new year, I want to make my life count for God. I hope you have some goals that encompass making your life count more for God in 2010. I don’t suppose anyone was more successful at making his life count for God than the Apostle Paul, other than the Lord Jesus Himself.
In our text, Paul tells the secret to his extraordinary success at making his life count for God.
Let’s look and see how he did it:
I. PAUL HAD A PURPOSE – Verse 12 –“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”
What was Paul’s goal? I think Paul was saying he had not arrived spiritually, so he sought for spiritual growth and maturity Peter tell us in 2 Peter 3:18 to “…grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
This was Paul’s main desire—to grow in the Lord. In order to make your life count, you, like Paul, should have some spiritual goals or purposes for your Christian life, what you might call “resolutions.”
The beginning of a New Year is an excellent time to think about some goals to turn into resolutions to help you grow in the Lord.
As you do that, let me give you some guidelines on goal-setting and resolution-making:
1) First, our goals need to be RIGHT goals.
Paul said that he desired spiritual growth. What about you? What do you want to see happen in your life for the Lord in 2010?
• If you’re not sure if you are saved, you need to get some answers and get this matter of your eternal destiny squared away once and for all.
• If you’re struggling with a bad habit, make some decisions to conquer it.