Warning: Past successes are not indicative of future goals.

Now that you are two workdays into 2011, here is a review from our time together this past Sunday morning. I hope it helps as you seek to be all that you are called to be in Christ. Allowing Him to live through you. Happy New Year!

The year 2011.
What does that mean for you?

For some it means you will write the wrong year on your check for the next 3 months. For others, it means new focus in business, new quotas!
Maybe for you it’s about getting in shape! (I can never get a treadmill the first month of each year!)
Maybe it’s about better grades. Trying harder. Or, being more disciplined in some area.

For most however, a New Year means a new beginning, a fresh start. As you evaluate your life and areas where you desire to improve or be more disciplined, I’d ask that you stop and consider your relationship with Christ as well. As we consider life, let’s not compartmentalize, but understand that it all goes together!

Here’s a look at new beginnings for 2011 and specifically what a guy name Paul had to say about the topic.

Philippians 3:13-14 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, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Paul is talking about our sanctification (the process of becoming more like Christ). The process each believer is called to and should be pressing toward. Being set aside more significantly each day for His purposes. As Paul writes to the church in Philippi, three principles can be found that will assist us in this New Year. As we seek to be all we can be for Christ Jesus. Let’s have a look.

1. Forget the Past
A lot of people like to live in the past. But Paul says, “…forgetting what is behind!” The question comes: what things specifically are we to forget about? Here are a few.

Past Sins.
Psalm 103 says that God removes our sins as far as the east is from the west.
When we repent of those things that miss the mark of God’s desire for our lives, God removes them: They’re covered by the blood of Jesus! God puts our sins behind us and we should do the same!

Don’t let Satan bring up past sins that God has already dealt with and forgotten! When he does, remind him that you repented, you are free, and you are covered by the grace of Jesus!

Past Failures:
These may not be sins. They may be things that you desired to accomplish. Or, things that you did but weren’t pleased with the outcome. Maybe it has to do with business, or family, or service and giving at church. Maybe it has to do with your relationship with Jesus. The areas where you have fallen short–Let those things go!

Past Successes:
Some of us have experienced great successes in our relationship with Christ. Times when we were close to Him and were serving. Maybe we shared the Gospel with someone. Maybe our small group at church grew or we actually had that quiet/devotional time with God.

Those are all great, but today is a new day. A new day to make the decision to follow after Christ. Like the disclaimer line that financial companies so often use, remember: Past successes are not indicative of future results. Everyday, we have to make spiritual decisions to do the things, and live in such a way, that would honor Christ with our lives! So, forget the past!

2. Be Honest With Ourselves

Paul says, “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it…”

To move forward in this New Year or even in each new day we are given, we have to be honest with where we are currently in our relationship with Christ. Maybe honesty is admitting you have no relationship with Christ and that you need one. What a great way to start the New Year!

If you are a follower of Christ, you need to evaluate where you are in your relationship. Does your life bring glory to God and point people towards Him? Are you serving Him and giving Him your very best. Do you honor God with your finances or does He get your leftovers? Do you love others? Do you share with the poor? Do you share Christ with those who need Him? Do you pray and spend time in His Word?

This may sound like a tall order, the life of a super Christian, but the reality is: this is what the normal life of a follower of Christ should be like! And while it may seem overwhelming to you at this second, God is saying that He will walk with us as we become more like Him. It’s a process, remember?

Take a moment. Think back over this past year. Have you divided your affections towards things that didn’t matter? Or did you focus your energies on things that brought glory to God?

Being fairly moral and coming to church a few times a month makes most of us feel like adequate Christians. However, I don’t believe that’s the way God sees it. If we are being honest with ourselves, let’s imagine how that makes God feel. I think it makes Him feel brokenhearted and disgusted.

Jesus said, “If we want to be His disciple (which just means a follower, not a super Christian) we are to deny ourselves, take up our Cross and follow Him!”

Now here’s the great thing. When we are honest about where we are, we can make changes. We can begin afresh! That’s why we love the New Year, its symbolic of a new beginning. In our relationship with Christ, we don’t have to wait until a New Year; we can begin anew each and every day! So let’s be honest with ourselves…

3. Be Ambitious For God

“…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.”

Let’s go back to the process of sanctification. (Becoming more like Christ). Paul says he is straining toward what is ahead. Giving it his all.

For those of you who work out at home or the gym, you realize that there are people who are more advanced than you. They can lift more weight or run further than you. Those people work hard to get to that point in their physical development. Working out becomes a part of who they are. It affects their sleep, their diet, and their overall lifestyle. They strain and push themselves to get to this point.

Let me compare them to myself. I run 12-15 miles per week, play some basketball and at times lift weights. I eat horrible. I love pizza and sweets and like to eat until I am stuffed full. I haven’t been willing to make the sacrifices to take it to the next level. You see working out is a part of my life, a few hours a week. But being healthy and excelling is not a part of my lifestyle.

Most of us are this same way in our relationship with Christ. We give Him a small place in our life but aren’t willing to make the sacrifices to make our relationship all encompassing.

Let me encourage you in this next year to be ambitious for God.

Ambition: An earnest desire for some type of achievement and the willingness to strive for its attainment.

I hope this helps you as you seek to follow hard after Christ in 2011!

Join us next Sunday. We’ll be starting a new series! Come check it out.
Serving alongside,
Matt

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