Forgetting The Past and Going Forward In 2012

                                        
                                                        PHIL. 3:12-16

Introduction: There is an old story about a happy little boy who went out into the field wearing a baseball cap ... And in one hand he carried a baseball, and in the other his trusty bat!
* His face had a look of tremendous confidence ... Cocking his bat, he tossed the ball into the air,
saying, “I’m the greatest batter in the world!” * Then he swung and missed.
* “Strike one,” he said. * He picked up the ball, examined it, and then threw it into the air again.
* As he swung, he repeated, “I’m the greatest batter in the world.”
* Once again he missed ... “Strike two,” he said. * This time, he stopped to examine his bat to
make sure there wasn’t a hole in it.
* Then he picked up the ball, adjusted his cap, and tossed the ball into the air for the third time.
* He repeated again, “I’m the greatest batter in the world,” and swung with all his might, and
missed for the third straight time.
* Now most boys might be discouraged by that, but this boy said, “Wow! I’m the greatest pitcher
in the world!”

Today is the first Sunday of 2006, and as we look back over the last 12 months, I’m not sure whether most of us would consider ourselves pitchers or batters!
* One thing for sure, is that we have all struck out from time to time.
* So I guess it’s good to be able to have a fresh start.

* Kids are going back in school .......
* Young people will be headed back to college.
* And most of us will soon recover from the holiday season and will returning to our jobs and the activities of the New Year real soon.

As we anticipate the next 12 months, some people might eagerly look forward to what each day will bring!
* Others might be filled with dread, worried that this year will be worse than the last.
* Like the little boy with his baseball bat, I would suggest that our attitude will make all the difference in the coming year.
* How we react to its events will largely determine whether it is a year of victory or a year of defeat.

Like the little boy we just hear about the Apostle Paul was never one to let circumstances conquer him .......
* Rather, with the help of God, he was determined to win the victor’s crown.
* Paul’s personality, I believe, really comes through in these verses!
* And, with these thoughts, Paul lays out some principles concerning the attitude that we should carry with us into the New Year!

 

* The first of those principles is this.......

(1) FORGETTING YOUR PAST!

* At the end of v.13, Paul said, “... forgetting .......”

A) Humans are very special beings, in that God has given us the ability to remember!
* However, your memories can be you friend or your enemy.
* Paul had a dreadful past and it could have easily haunted him for the rest of his life, if he allowed it to!

* He persecuted the church ... He used his authority to kill Christians.
* By his own admission he said, “I am the chief of sinners.”


B) He could have walked around all his life with this tremendous guilt crippling him!
* And he would’ve never become the great Apostle and missionary that he went on to be.
* Many people dwell on their past failures, mistakes, and sins so much so, that they become spiritually paralyzed, unable to live productively for God.
* Paul is telling us that we can turn our past sins and failures over to God and start moving “forward to what lies ahead.”

C) Our greatest glory is not in ever failing, but in rising every time we fall!
* We’ve failed many times, although we may not remember or realize.
* We fell down the first time we tried to walk ... most felt as though they almost drowned the first time they tried to swim.

* Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs.

D) R. H. Macy (Macy’s dept. store) failed seven times before his New York department store finally caught on!
* We can’t allow ourselves to become obsessed with our failures.
* We are all human ... We make mistakes ... We sin ... We fail ... But what is worse, is missing the opportunities that God puts in front of us because we are afraid to fail.

E) In a Nike advertisement some years ago, a voice came over the television saying .......
* “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career ... I’ve lost almost 300 games.”
* “Twenty-six times I was trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.”
* “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life ... And that is why I succeed.”
* Those words were spoken by Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player who ever played the game!

F) God once told the prophet Jeremiah that He would, one day, establish a New Covenant with the children of Israel!

* And when He did, He said .......
* “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:34)
* That covenant was established when Jesus Christ died on the cross.
* Since that day, God’s forgiveness is so complete that it is forgetfulness.

G) If we have been washed in the blood of Christ, God has forgotten all of our failures and sins!
* It is time that we forget them as well!
* Let’s follow Paul’s example here, “... forgetting those things which are .......”
* The first principle Paul teaches us for the New Year is Forgetting the Past,

 

and the second is .......

(2) FOCUSING YOUR PRIORITIES!

* In v.14 Paul says, “I press toward the mark for the ...”

A) He introduced that statement in v.13 with “but this one thing I do.”
* Obviously Paul did more than one thing! * He made tents ... He preached sermons.
* He planted churches ... He wrote books ... Paul did a lot of things!
* But what he is telling us is that his top priority in life was to “press toward the mark for ...”
* Paul is saying, “I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.”

* In other words, Paul’s number one priority was the Kingdom of Heaven!
* He was running straight toward that goal, and he wasn’t gonna let anything distract him from it!

B) A while back an expert on the subject of time management was speaking to a group of business students!

* After speaking to them for a while, he said, “Okay, it’s time for a quiz.”
* He set a one-gallon, wide mouthed Mason jar on the table in front of him.
* Then he produced about a dozen tennis-ball-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, inside the jar.
* When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” * “Really?” he said.
* Then he reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of small gravel.
* He dumped some gravel into the jar and shook it , causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.
* Then he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full? ”By this time the class was starting to catch on ... “Probably not,” one of them said.
* “Good!” he replied. * Then he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand.
* He started dumping the sand in and it filled all the spaces between the rocks and the gravel.
* Once more he asked, “Is this jar full?” * “No!” the class shouted. * Again he said, “Good!”
* Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim.
* Then he looked back at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”
One eager student raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit something more into it!”
* “No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point ... this illustration teaches us: If
you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

C) What are the big rocks in your life?
* As you look ahead to 2012, what are your priorities?
* Jesus said in Matt. 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God .......”
* Drawing closer to God through worship, spending time with Him in prayer, and seeking His guidance for your life, by reading His Word ... These should be some of the big rocks in your jar!

D) If you are considering resolutions for the New Year, let me make two suggestions:
* (1) set aside 30 minutes every day to read your Bible and pray, and

(2) Determine to be more involved in God’s work.
* By that I mean, attending church and finding other works of God to be involved with.

E) It’s a sad, but true fact, that many Christians do not make God’s work a priority in life!
* There will be, generally, one third fewer Christians lifting their voices in praise at evening services than at morning services.
* Those who feel like they are doing their spiritual duty by going to church once a week, punching their spiritual timecard, are not seeking “first His kingdom.”
* If we intend to press on “toward the mark to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers,” then we need to make God and His kingdom our top priority in life!

F) There is just one more principle that Paul offers us for the New Year,

which is .......

(3) FUNCTIONING IN THE PRESENT!

* Please notice v.13 again.......

A) Paul said, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do,”
* Notice that Paul did not say, “one thing I will do.” * He didn’t say, “one thing I’m going to do,”
* Or “one thing I will get around to someday.” * He said, “one thing I do.”

B) Paul was living and working in the present! * Many people today try to live in the future.
* Do you know what the busiest day in the world is going to be?
* It’s not Christmas ... It’s not the day after Thanksgiving ... It is “someday.”
* Everyone in the world has something scheduled to do “someday.”
* You hear people all the time saying, “Someday, I’m gonna do this or that ...”
* The problem is that “someday” is not on any calendar.
* I’m sure that we’ve all made plans for “someday,” but the fact is, “someday” will never come!

C) Paul is the ultimate example of living each day to the fullest ... Living each day as if it were your last!

* For example .......
* When he was imprisoned in Rome, he didn’t sit there stewing, thinking about all the things he would do when he got out of jail.
* He wrote letters to churches, sang praises to God, and even converted some of the people who had put him jail! * Paul used everyday to the fullest.

D) Benjamin Franklin once said, “Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff that life is made of.”
* It was Abraham Lincoln who first said, “The leading rule for a man of every calling is diligence; never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

* That’s not the way we think!

E) Perhaps, the saddest example of procrastination is found in the life of the Roman Governor Felix, who listened to Paul “speak about faith in Christ Jesus.”
* But as he was discussing “righteousness, temperance and judgment to come,” Felix became frightened and said, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient ...” (Acts 24:25)

F) Never again did Felix listen to God’s Word!
* Once he had put it off for a time, as with so many things in life, that time never came.
* We all ought to be more like the psalmist, who wrote in Psalm 119:60, “I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.”

Conclusion:

A) What if there were no church next week because we were too busy to worship God today?
* What if God could not hear your prayers tomorrow because you were too busy to pray today?
* What if there was no Bible tomorrow because you would not read His Word today?
* What if there was no forgiveness tomorrow because you were not thankful for salvation today?
* What if there was no invitation tomorrow because you did not respond today?

B) As we embark on the journeys of 2012, let us determine ahead of time that it
will be a year of victory!
* Let us choose our own attitudes and follow the advice of the Apostle Paul. Resolve to ... Forget your Past: Look beyond the sins and failures of yesterday; learn from them, repent of them, and then move forward.

C) Focus your Priorities: Place God at the top of your “to do” list everyday! Worship Him ... Study His Word ... Put His Kingdom first in your life and everything else will
fall into place!

D) Function in the Present: Stop living in the future! Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today.


* Invitation: Would you bow your heads and close your eyes for a moment? This morning, the absolute best way to start this year is to become a part of God’s eternal
Kingdom! Focus your priorities by making Jesus the Lord of your life ... Allow the cleansing power of His blood to wash away your past sins, and start living your life for Christ everyday! The Bible says in 2 Cor. 6:2, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of ...”
* The invitation is open to all! If you are ready to be begin your life anew today ... Or if you are already a Christian, but need a fresh start ... The Lord invites you to please come!