This new year is a landmark one for me. On New Year’s eve I turn 50. This has caused me to do a lot of reflection and this sermon is a a result of that reflection. The New Year’s holiday is one that signifies putting the past behind us and looking forward to the future. For me, the past is getting longer and the future is getting shorter but does that mean that God does not have a lot of life and adventure in front of me? This is the question that I had to ask myself. So join with me and hopefully together we can learn that God does not look upon your past, your age, or your earthly talents, but instead He looks upon the heart of a person and their willingness to be used by Him.
The New Year Is a time to consciously forget the past.
Pressing toward the Goal
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
As we get older in our lives we get more and more set in our ways. I think that this comes from a mentality that would say we have learned all their is to learn or have achieved all there is to achieve. We stop making goals for ourselves and we stop challenging ourselves with new ideas and adventures. The Apostle Paul recognized this tendency and reminded himself that he had not achieved the greatest goal that there is for a Christian to achieve. In the Christian life, the greatest goal is to know Jesus as intimately as He knows us. It is that intimate personal relationship that can be pursued for all our lives.
In order to do this, the Apostle Paul tells us that He is not looking at the past. In fact he is forgetting what has happened in the past and is looking towards the future. Now some of us might think that is fine for a good church boy or a saint, but our past is something that we cannot forget. I would just like to remind all of you that the Apostle Paul had a history of persecuting the church and condoning the murder of Christians. That is quite the checkered past. If he can forget his past, then my friend, so can you and I. So this New Year why don’t you take some time to get before God, ask forgiveness for the mistakes you have made and the dumb things you have done, and leave them there. Forget them. God throws your sins into the sea of forgetfulness.
19 Once again you will have compassion on us.
You will trample our sins under your feet
and throw them into the depths of the ocean!
God really does not look at your age
We have all heard the verse that says that to God a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day.
2 Peter 3:8
But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.
We always look at this verse in the light of the return of Christ which is the context of how it is used, but have you ever thought that the same is true concerning how God looks at us? To Him we are not 50 or 60 or 70 but we are just a few days old. You see, God transcends time. So His plans and purposes for you are not gauged by time or age.
Remember that the Apostle John wrote the Revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelations) at the ripe young age of 90 or so. Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt at age 80, and Abraham entered into a covenant with God at age 75 and left his homeland to enter the land promised to him by God. At age 100 he fathered Isaac. All of these men are great examples of the blessings of God like was given to Job after his temptation by Satan.
12 So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.
So for me, reaching age 50 is only just the beginning. God does not look at my age and I am not too old for Him to use me in wonderful ways and open doors that I cannot imagine still.
The one thing that God wants is your heart to be willing to be used.
It has been said that 50 is the new 40 and 60 is the new 50. Well whatever your age, God wants you to become willing to be used by Him. Our nation, our children, our communities need God desperately. Somehow and someway we have not passed down our faith to our families and our culture. God wants to use you and I to change this. The question is whether or not we are willing.
I had to ask myself some pretty hard questions. Things like if God called me to go to a city known for sin, would I go? Would I give up my comfort zone to follow His leading? I like country living. I like no crime, good neighbors and the church I pastor. Would I give that up if asked?
Some of you might need to ask yourselves some hard questions like those. What would you give up? Would you enter into a covenant with God to go to His promised land for you like Abraham did? Would you lead people out of bondage and slavery like Moses did? What if it cost you your comfort zone in order to do so, would you do it?
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.
Now that is something to think about!
Resource: Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.