Summary: Message encouraging people to break out of the ruts of their previous behaviors and attitudes for the new year.
Turn the Page
December 27, 2009
NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT IS FROM ANDY STANLEY’S BOOK, "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."
Me: Can you believe that we’re about to enter the 11th year of the 2000’s?
Does anyone here remember the panic over Y2K? It’s kinda silly now that we look back on it, huh?
Bill Vaughn was quoted as saying, “Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to.” He also said, ‘An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.’ (SermonCentral.com. Contributed by Jim Kane)
But on Friday we start 2010, and as with any new year, we have new opportunities.
One thing I really like about the New Year is that it’s an opportunity to start fresh on things.
I’ve got a number of things I’d like to accomplish, both personally and with the ministry of the church, and the new year is a great time to start things.
We: It’s the same for a lot of people, right?
People look at a new year and they start to think of things they’d like to accomplish in that new year.
Maybe it’s a health goal, so they join the Y or some health club.
Or they set business goals, or even spiritual goals.
The new year is a great time to turn the page on stuff you’d like to get going on and accomplish in the next year.
It’s also a great time to turn the page on some things you should put behind you.
And that’s what I’d like to talk with you about today.
God: The passage we’re going to look at today is one of those perfect passages in looking at what we can accomplish as we look at entering a new year.
I’ve used this passage before in this context, but I want to revisit it a bit and look at some lessons we can take away from it and apply to this next year.
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, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Five lessons we can learn from Paul:
1. We all have an imperfect past.
None of us can look at our past and see nothing we aren’t ashamed of.
We all have blemishes and stains that we’d just as soon no one knew about or that we’d just as soon forget.
The apostle Paul was no different.
He had a pretty ugly past in persecuting the Church of Christ, and my guess is that he had plenty of time to reflect on the shame of that.
But we also have to remember that Paul was a religious guy even before he met Christ.
He was a Pharisee, he was an up and coming religious leader who had the trust of the religious establishment in place during the early days of the Church.
He could quote Scripture, he attended the synagogue probably every week, he had it going.
But all of his religion didn’t keep him from having a past that he didn’t treasure as time went by.
You might have grown up in church, you might have been involved in church, you might have been a church leader of some sort.
But just the same, you have an imperfect past.
It’s imperfect because of the presence of sin in your life. It’s imperfect because you have chosen your way over God’s way many times.
And there’s no way to get away from that fact. But the second lesson we can learn from Paul is that…
2. We don’t have to be a slave to that past.
Paul could have said, “Look. I put people in prison, and I voted for the death penalty for Christians I arrested. There is no hope for me, and there is no way I could ever be used by Christ.”
But he insisted here that he had something work moving on for.
He could look back on the fact that Christ redeemed him from his past, and was continually working in him.
He says here that in spite of his past, he was moving on.
How does he say it? “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what’s ahead.”
He recognized his past, but he refused to be a slave to it.
Paul was a few years away from his death when he wrote this book.