Peninsula Community Church
Making Resolutions that Count
January 1, 2012
Philippians 3:13-15 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
It is always interesting to me as to how many people make New Year’s resolutions and then never keep them. Most resolutions made are broken by February. Of course, I have been just as guilty as anyone else. I make a positive and genuine gesture to make a change that will benefit me either physically, emotionally or spiritually. For example for a number of years I would make a resolution to read through the Bible in that year. If I read three chapters during the week and five on Sunday I could accomplish the task. Everything would start well but on day three or four I would end up missing a chapter. On the following day instead of reading four chapters, I would only read two chapters. Now I am behind two chapters. But on over the weekend I will catch up but something happens and I only read three chapters over the whole weekend. Now I am behind eight chapters and as the week goes on this gets worse so eventually I give up.
The same thing happens to us whether it is losing weight or trying to stop smoking or drinking less. We do well but then we have a failure of some sort and soon we give up. It is not by chance that advertisers increase their advertising dollars for weight loss programs, and other such programs at the beginning of each year because they know that people will inevitably make a weight loss resolution.
A few years ago I spoke to the director of the YMCA at Smith Mountain Lake and she said that every year in January that there is a huge increase in the numbers of people who join the YMCA because they have made a resolution to lose weight. But, by the end of February their numbers are down and people end up paying for a service they never use. The first few weeks of the New Year are extremely busy but by mid February the numbers of people coming into the center are down.
A survey has shown that there are some common resolutions made every year. A number of these show up on every list:
- Lose weight
- Become better parents
- Work less
- Enjoy life more
- Take up a hobby
- Become debt free
But here are some resolutions that I am sure that you will never hear:
- Spend more time watching TV / movies.
- Chat more over phone / Internet.
- Read less.
- I want to gain weight. Put on at least 30 pounds.
- Stop exercising.
- Waste time doing nothing.
- Procrastinate more.
- Spend more time at work.
- Stop bringing lunch from home: I should eat out more.
- I am going to be a bigger pain in the neck.
- Go deeper in debt.
The idea of being circumspect and reviewing our life is critical to our growth as believers. But we do this evaluation with an understanding that we cannot change the past but we can certainly impact and make a difference in the future. As we look back, we can learn both positive and negative lessons that will benefit us for the future. As we look back, we also walk forward to a new day with a sense of forgiveness for wrongs committed by us or to us and an inner gratefulness for all that God has done for us and in us. This does not mean that we forget about the past or what has happened to us or what events have transpired but we allow these things to shape us and make is into the person who has greater strength, wisdom, patience and understanding of life.
Paul uses an Olympian symbol here. In the days of the Greek games the winners of the games would be brought forward and have a prize placed around their neck. It is similar to our Olympic games today where the name of the athlete is named, his country an d the event he won is announced. The prize that he was looking to was the recognition of a greater understanding of who Christ is and a deepening relationship with Christ.
Paul in Philippians 3:13-15 understood this process. Paul understood that the greatest resolution that could be made is to press forward in our understanding of Christ. He had a goal that was in front of him and he was pressing toward that goal. Paul says here that we forget that which is behind us and we press on to the prize of God. This is not an implication that there is a lack of forgiveness but a realization that nothing can be changed about the past.
Lessons we should learn:
- We must not allow our past to dictate our future. We have all made mistakes and have failures.
- We must never become stagnate in our growth in Christ. This is why Paul states that we should forget the past for the past will usher in guilt and despair as we look at the failures and mistakes made.
- We must never stand on past laurels and victories or successes. We must never consider ourselves to have arrived at some spiritual place that exempts us form any further growth.
- We must keep our focus on getting to know Christ in a greater way. the prize and not on those who are running the race or on the competition.
But what is the prize that Paul is looking to receive. To understand this we must go to the previous verses for it was Paul’s desire that whatever else he had attained would be counted as rubbish when compared to his every growing understanding of Christ. Paul in the previous verses open the door for us to understand that his greatest desire was to know Christ more. This was not just knowledge of Christ but that deep understanding of who Christ is and an understanding of his character. The problem is that too often we look for his hand and not his character.
So what is the greatest resolution we can make. It is this that in 2012 we would make it priority to know and understand Christ and His ways even more than we have in 2011 or any year prior to this one.
As we consider our resolutions for this year let us consider a couple of things. Resolutions we can make:.
- Commit to pray for one another and for the church
- Consider sharing
Christ with someone at least once a WEEEK.
- Consider inviting one or more families to join you at church.
- Look to do something for someone in the name of Jesus.
- Develop a regular Bible reading and study habit in order to understand his character. Look for ways in the scriptures that God’s character is revealed.
- Begin a journal where you record the ways you see God’s character in action in your life and the revelation of who He is.
Learn something new this year. Pray for God to show you what that might me.
As we close the service today we are going to gather around the Lord’s Table. Because there is no greater place to accomplish this and to come to an understanding of God’s character than around the Lord’s Table where we can repent of past wrongs and begin a new year filled with hope and the idea that I do not have to repeat the failures of the past.
Pause for a moment of meditation. What would you change about your life? What regrets do you have from 2011? Are there areas of guilt or shame that overtake you? Are their people in your life that you need to forgive or need to seek their forgiveness?