A Baptist church tried to get a man to attend, but he never did.
“Why don’t you come?” the pastor asked.
The man finally admitted it was because he didn’t have the proper clothes.
So, a member of the congregation took him to a clothing store and got him a nice suit, shirt, tie, and shoes.
But, on the following Sunday, he still didn’t show up.
So, the pastor visited him again and asked him why he didn’t come.
“When I got dressed up in my new suit,” the man explained, “I looked so good I decided to go to the Episcopal Church.”
How a person is dressed is not what is important.
It is what is inside us that is important.
As we look forward to the New Year in 2018, many in our culture make New Year resolutions that will help them to look good on the outside.
We, as believers, need to concentrate on the inside as we look forward to 2018.
In Philippians 3:12-14, we see how we are to approach 2018:
1)We need to have a Divine Dissatisfaction.
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet” (vs. 12-13a).
We have not arrived spiritually yet. There is room for more growth in our walk with the Lord.
The word “perfect” does not mean sinless but means “spiritually mature.”
Even though Paul was a mature believer, he had not come to the place in his spiritual life where his growth in Christ was complete.
We, as individual believers, are never to be satisfied with our present level of spiritual growth.
We are to have a divine dissatisfaction. The phrase, “I press on” means “to pursue relentlessly.”
Are we relentlessly pursuing Christ?
Paul presses on so he can “lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ.”
The phrase “lay hold” means, “to seize and take possession.”
The idea is that we are to run the race to win what Christ has already won for us at the cross, so we can be what Christ saved us for.
2) We need to have a Single Devotion.
“but one thing I do” (vs. 13b)
The idea is “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing.”
This expresses his single devotion or purpose.
Nothing could distract him or divert him from becoming like Christ.
3) We need to have a Deliberate Direction.
“forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead” (vs. 13c).
Forgetting what lies behind is everything in the past, both good and bad.
This includes our sins and mistakes, the victories and achievements in the past.
We do not forget by trying to erase the past from our memory, rather it is not allowing the past to control the future or to hinder our present progress.
We need to have a deliberate direction by stretching out to what lies ahead for us in our growth in Christ in 2018.
4) We need to have a Spiritual Determination.
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (vs. 14)
Paul’s pressing on towards the goal is describing an intense pursuit.
The Greeks used it to describe a runner sprinting down the home stretch and having his eyes riveted on the finish line.
We need a spiritual determination to finish well in 2018.
There was a man who visited a very formal church one Sunday.
He said that right in the middle of the service a guy had a heart attack and died, but that the ushers carried out 5 guys before they found the right one.
May we not be dead spiritually in 2018 but have a divine dissatisfaction, a single devotion, a deliberate direction, a spiritual determination in our pursuit of Christ throughout the New Year!
Pastor Ken Keeler, Director of Church Ministries