We’ve just finished the first week of the new year. I love this time of year – it is filled with new promises, new beginnings, and new hope. We take great pains in promising ourselves that this year will be different. We start new diets & exercise plans, we start new projects, we clean out our closets and our cabinets and discard things that weigh us down.
I am doing these things, too – but today’s sermon at my church reminded me that Paul says the ONE THING we must be certain to do in order to move forward in life, is to forget what is behind us.
“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, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
What does that look like? In order to fully grab on to God and walk into his favor and grace in the new year, we must leave behind those things that will hold us back. If we are unhealthily still focused on your past, you cannot move forward.
So, if you are intending to really make strides in your life this year – I’d like to share with your the list my pastor, Albert Tate, gave us on Sunday of things you must unpack from 2017. As he opened a suitcase on the stage and unpacked each t-shirt with these words on it, he shared why hanging on to these things will keep you from experiencing the fullness of God in the new year…
ANGER and UNFORGIVENESS
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Louis B. Smedes
“Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.” Rick Warren
Godly community is powerful. Find friends that want to know, “how’s your soul doing?” and ditch the friends who push you into feeding your flesh.
WORRY and FEAR
“Put away worry and fear and watch God be God. Every day, give the day to God and worship him at every step. Don’t walk in worry and fear – walk in worship and faith.” Albert Tate
Two words: STOP IT.
PRIDE and SELFISHNESS
Leave behind your failures, yes – but we also must leave behind our successes. If we assume we are the source of our success, we won’t be able to let God bring us to new things in the new year.
Once you’ve unpacked and made a commitment to yourself and to God to leave behind the things that will hold you back in the coming year – you must also remember to re-pack your bag to push ahead on the journey ahead. Fill it with
Confessing the broken areas of your life takes away any power it has to hold you back. You are meant to soar!
Grace comes in a double portion – always. No one is too far from God to receive his grace, and once you have received that grace it is your duty to freely give it to others.
You cannot do this life alone. Who knows what you struggle with? Have someone you can call for prayer and positive affirmation that you can do this!
Christ’s resurrection represents the NEW thing God wants to do for you in this NEW YEAR. You will never experience the new thing God wants you to do without first letting go of the old things.
Don’t be stuck.
Don’t be stagnant.
Make the choice to unpack those bags and move forward for God’s glory!
(Author’s note: This is a brief recap of a sermon from 1/7/18 at Fellowship Monrovia. No one tells the gospel story quite like Albert Tate – to enjoy the whole sermon, you can watch on Facebook by clicking here, or on the church website here.)