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Synopsis of A New You – A New Look for the New Year & What to do With Yesterday?
Good and joyful day today to all Christian brothers and sisters on this day the Lord has made, on this last Sunday before the beginning of the new year. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or whatever is your favorite. We’re about to slice a piece of the bread of life, the Word of God. And todays slice comes from: Philippians 3 : 1-11 Where Paul is preaching to the Church of Philippi of the Righteousness Through Faith in Christ
PHI 3:1 Whatever happens, dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord give you joy. I never get tired of telling you this. I am doing this for your own good. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those wicked men and their evil deeds, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. 3 For we who worship God in the Spirit are the only ones who are truly circumcised. We put no confidence in human effort. Instead, we boast about what Christ Jesus has done for us. 4 Yet I could have confidence in myself if anyone could. If others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! 5 For I was circumcised when I was eight days old, having been born into a pure-blooded Jewish family that is a branch of the tribe of Benjamin. So I am a real Jew if there ever was one! What’s more, I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. 6 And zealous? Yes, in fact, I harshly persecuted the church. And I obeyed the Jewish law so carefully that I was never accused of any fault. 7 I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead!
Most of us will not have the unique opportunity of Alfred Nobel who read his own obituary. It happened because of a mistaken identity. Alfred’s brother died, but the news media had confused the name and thought Alfred had died. As he read his own obituary, he was horrified to find that as far as the public knew, dynamite was his whole life. There was nothing in his obituary that spoke of his efforts to break down barriers that separated people. He was merely depicted as a merchant of death. And so he made a new resolution. In his last will and testament, he made great funds available, resulting in the Nobel Peace Prize, the most valued of awards given to those who have done the most for the cause of world peace.
Well, today, we will not turn to a mistaken obituary but to God’s word for insights and instructions on how each of us can be “A New You in a New Year.” I believe the Apostle Paul, writing to the church at Philippi gives a time-honored principle that worked in 63 A.D. or today, in three steps.
First, if you want to make every day count, you must choose a priority. We sometimes miss the great opportunities of life because we get sidetracked. I once heard the tale of a talented and gifted bloodhound in England that started a hunt by chasing a full-grown male deer. During the chase a fox crossed his path, so he began now to chase the fox. A rabbit crossed his hunting path, so he began to chase the rabbit. After chasing the rabbit for a while, a tiny field mouse crossed his path, and he chased the mouse to the corner of a farmer’s barn. The bloodhound had begun the hunt chasing a prized male deer for his master and wound up barking at a tiny mouse. It is a rare human being who can do three or four different things at a time–moving in different directions.
Apostle Paul would not allow anything to cross his path that would deter him from his priority. Paul knew that his new life was a gift from God, not from the promises of humanity. His life was to be lived for his master. Nothing would sidetrack him of that priority!
Paul was a great time manager because he knew we can’t do three or four things at once and move in two or three different directions. This is why Paul stated, “This one thing I do.” This is why Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount, “We are to seek his kingdom first, and then the rest of our lives and priorities fall into order.” .
Christ’s spirit lives best in his disciples who say, “This I will do,” rather than, “Something ought to be done around this place.” Pick a priority and then perform it to the best of your ability.
Second, Paul says, “Forgetting what lies behind, I strain forward to what is ahead.” Notice Paul says we are to “forget what lies behind.” Everybody could benefit from having a good mental trash basket. We are to confess our sins, place them under the blood of Jesus and know we have been freed from their condemnation and power. Jesus can clean the slate (the blackboard of your life) and propel you to work for righteousness, rather than unrighteousness. Forget both your sins and successes of the past year, and begin this year anew with God.
Have you ever noticed that your car’s windshield is fifty times larger than your rear view mirror? It is quite simple–we are to spend 50 times as much energy and time looking forward rather than looking backwards.
Third, I want to share with you a prayer by the Rev. Dr. Kenneth G. Phifer, from a book titled A Book of Un-Common Prayer. It was written for New Year’s Eve, and because it reinforces some of the ideas and pictures I have today.
Eternal God, before whom we are creatures of the day and children of the hours, I did not expect the sorrow that was thrust upon me. I was surprised by the turn of events that changed my life. I look back. I remember how different life a year ago was. The slow, quiet erosion of the days has gone on, and I am not quite the same person I was, for better or for worse. I have had a whole year to grow in love or to fall out of love, to turn my hands to constructive tasks, or to turn away in laziness. I have had a whole year, No matter what I have done or failed to do, O Lord, keep me from dwelling on it too much. If I have failed, help me put my failure behind me. If I have done well, help me to be glad but not satisfied. There are other hills to climb and new hopes to be realized. I know, O God, you understand my need to look back for a while, regretfully looking at the past. But start me looking forward. I do not know what events are ahead, but I do know you are there, and I am grateful. AMEN.
Now, a “New Look for the New Year.” This newness is the result of three important looks that are being urged upon us: the backward look, the inward look, and the upward look.
First, the Backward Look: “In him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood” (v. 7). As we glance backward we are confronted immediately with a lonely cross erected on a hill centuries ago. This backward look reminds us that our Savior has delivered us from a situation from which we could never have delivered ourselves. Every honest person is conscious of his own inadequacy and sin because men love their wickedness and hate them at the same time.
Our second look is the Look Inward: “the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of his grace” (v. 7). Having seen the redeeming love of God expressed at the cross, we look within ourselves and see that forgiveness is ours, forgiveness even for things we thought to be unforgivable. That, is forgiveness; and assurance that creates newness. Yes….. a new you!
We turn now to the third direction, the Upward Look. “To the praise of God’s glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (v. 6). All that has come to us in the past, all that we have in the present, all that we ever hope to have in the future are gifts of grace from our loving Father through the merits of his Son, Jesus Christ. That is why, whenever we hear the blessed Words of forgiveness, our eyes drift heavenward in gratitude for so great a love.
If we have Christ, we have everything. Without Him, we have nothing. When we have Him, our priority in life is to worship Him, celebrate Him, and obey Him in everything we do, and share Him and His message with the world.
O.K., so, What to Do with Yesterday – Psalm 103 : 8-12 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious; he is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love. 9 He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. 10 He has not punished us for all our sins, nor does he deal with us as we deserve. 11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. 12 He has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as the east is from the west.
After a hurricane or any bad weather condition there comes a week or two where there is no garbage collection If we just let it sit there, it would begin to stink up our lives. So, we had to pack it up, and take it to the dump. We had to get rid of it. Of course, there is more than one kind of garbage. But there is another kind of garbage that is more difficult to manage. It is the garbage of our past.
Many people have never learned how to deal with yesterday. Instead of looking to the future with hope, excitement, and positive expectation, they are bogged down in the past. They feel guilty about this. They are disappointed that they didn’t do the other. They are bitter over the way they were treated. For so many people, the past is like a heavy weight around their necks, holding them back from the good future that God intends. We can’t get on to new business because we are so bogged down in old business!
What is it in your past that keeps giving you a hard time?
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Synopsis of A New You – A New Look – and What to do with Yesterday