January 2020 Lakeside United Methodist Pastor's Message

Happy and Blessed New Year!! 

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, 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.”  Philippians 3:12-14 NIV.

Very shortly, we will celebrate the last day of the year and the beginning of a new one.  Many of us have been looking forward to the end of this year.  For a lot of reasons this has been a hard year for a lot of people.  That particular day, is a day commonly reserved for resolutions for the new year.  It is a time for serious reflection of where our life has been, where it is, and where we want it to be.  Deep down inside, we know that our lives are not all doomed to fate.  We know that our attitudes and actions have an effect on what direction our life goes.  Is there any advice in Scripture on how to go through this process?  Read the verses above one more time.  Paul is describing the process he goes through.  I believe it is a process we all should go through daily, but New Year’s Eve is a great day to start.  The first thing Paul admits is that he hasn’t already obtained perfection. Even John Wesley spoke to excuse slight misdeeds by “perfected” Christians by saying, “there is no such perfection in this life, as it implies an entire deliverance, either from ignorance, or mistake, in things not essential to salvation, or from manifold temptations, or from numberless infirmities, wherewith the corruptible body more or less presses down the soul.”  

We need to understand that God is alright with our flaws, but He doesn’t condone our sinfulness.  He knows what effect sin has on our lives and that is why He sent His Son into the world to redeem us. It is OK that you are not where you thought you would be at this point in time.  None of us is.  But here is the most important part!  Paul says, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind…” Brothers and Sisters that is a key thought.  Paul is saying that there can be no significant improvement in his life until he forgets what is behind.  What he is saying is, that he must forgive and forget what lies behind before he can move forward. 

If there is one thing we must do today, it is to go through the process of true repentance.  We need to lay our wrongs before the cross of Christ and find that there they are forgiven and forgotten.  God punished Jesus for our sins and today He remembers them no more.  If God has forgiven and forgotten our sins, why do we continue to carry them around?  All they do is drag us down and make us feel like nothing can change in our lives.  Right now, stop for a minute and reflect upon the past year.  Give up any ugliness that still hides there and place it on the cross.  Now, walk away in the freedom of that forgiveness.  Feel the load being removed from your shoulders?!?!  Stop!!  Do not look back again!!  Never look back again!!  God has forgotten our sins and it is time for us to forget them too.  

Have you truly “forgotten what is behind”? If so, then continue with Paul’s instruction.  Paul says that now that he has forgotten what lies behind, he “strains toward what is ahead.”  He presses on!  The imagery here is of a runner straining for the finish line.  As we look to the coming year, Paul tells us not to be dragged along through time but to strain toward goals and plans that we have made.  Here is where successful resolutions are made.  Now that we have let go of the dead weight of the past, we can move forward toward the things we want for the New Year.  If it is not already on our resolution list, we need to add that we will strive to be more deeply rooted in God’s Word this New Year.  Paul places first on his list, his spiritual resolutions and I think we should as well.  It will be tough to get our physical resolutions going right, if our spiritual ones are not in place.  Let’s agree to put spiritual things first.  Jesus said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33 NIV) 

Please read the Philippians verses one more time.  May they be the guiding words to your resolution process today and into the new year. 

On a personal note, I want to thank each of you for your support of the ministries of the Lakeside United Methodist Church.  You have inspired me to be all that Christ wants me to be.  Let us join together, as we forget what is behind and to strain forward in a New Year together!!  May God richly bless your New Year! 

See you in Church, 

Brother Don  

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