Sermon:  2006 AD or BC

Summary:  In reflecting on how we order and use the gift of time, we,
 like Paul, must consider our former life (BC) with all its self-centered 
pursuits as garbage so that we may have the only thing of true value, 
which is knowing Christ.  In knowing Christ, we need to live out his
death and resurrection daily by making his will our will.

Know:  Becoming a Christian means a total transformation of our
thought, goals, and aspiration.  We leave behind former aspiration 
and make our only aspiration this - To know Christ intimately daily.

Feel:  A dissatisfaction in personal pursuits, and a desire to pursue 
Christ above all else.

Do:  Consider how you can know Christ better this year, and how 
you can fulfill his purpose and mission in your life. Reflect on 
personal pursuits and God's role in personal pursuits.  Evaluate 
how your personal pursuits take you closer or further away from 
God.  Consider and commit to a plan to transform your pursuits 
by valuing knowing Christ above all else.  

Text:  Philippians 3:4-16

Scripture Reading:  

1.  Happy New Year.  What we mean?  Ball drop, songs, expectation, old grind
	a.  Happy New Year fades away just like the tinsel and lights
	b.  Many not in the spirit of the season this year
2.  Why is January the New Year?
	a.  Many other nations different calendars, and new year
	b.  Like days of the year, name of months pagan background
	c.  January set as new year by Julius Caesar, after "Janus" god of doors 
                     and openings
		- Janus would open the new year
	d.  Early Christians saw March 25th as New Year - Annunciation of Mary
		- Gabriel announced to Mary she would give birth to the Messiah
		- Over 1000 years later, Pope Gregory 13th returned New Year 
                                   back to January
3.  As I reflect on the New Year, I think of Exodus 12, preparation for Passover
	a.  About to transition from slavery to God's people
	b.  God directed that this month would be the first month of the year
		- Appropriate, day become God's people, their year begins
		- The way they count time centered in on God's act of redemption
	c.  Their time and life revolved around God's act of redemption
	d.  How do we view our time?  What determines how we order and use it?
		- I don't mean whether we use a calendar that originated in 
		- Talking about out attitude toward time
4.  Paul had a distinct view of time
	a.  For Paul, there was BC and AD, not like our BC and AD years
	b.  Phil. 3:4-16
	c.  Paul reflects on two lives.  Life before Christ, and life after Christ
	d.  We can learn how we should order and use our time from this

I.  Life Before Christ
	A.  Paul had a certain kind of life before Christ
		1.  Self confident
		2.  Many would have admired him, had it all together
		3.  A Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, highly respected
		4.  Went above and beyond, he was on fire
	B.  What characterizes life before Christ?  -- Self
		1.  Like Paul, it may be self-confidence, or it might be self-____
		2.  In any case, the focus is on how to be fulfilled and happy
			a.  Unwritten creed, seek fulfillment where you can
			b.  Many seek it in various places
				- Career, sport, writing, crafts, music, good deeds
				- Some seek it through being with friends
			c.  What is wrong with any of this?
		3.  Fundamental right - pursuit of happiness?
			a.  Value second only to life and liberty
			b.  Irony - pursuit of happiness can cancel out life and liberty
	C.  The pursuit of happiness is an endless, elusive quest
		1.  Statistic - 20% of Americans are truly happy
			a.  In a nation where free to seek it, should be more happy
			b.  Anti-depressant sales on the rise, new ones come out
			c.  Dr. Phil and self help books are increasing
		.	d.  All to try and find happiness and fulfillment
		2.  Problem - Looking the wrong places?    No
			a.  I am convinced that if you be a Christian in order to find 
    			    happiness and fulfillment, will eventually be disappointed
			b.  Jesus is not a Prozac pill
			c.  Problem is with the pursuit itself - By nature is self 
			d.  Never be truly fulfilled and content with focus on self
		3.  Chinese Proverb - Happiness is the absence of striving for 
	D.  The Bible never says to pursue happiness
		1.  It does say to pursue godliness, holiness, righteousness, love 
     		     and peace with others
		2.  May feel good about accomplishments, as Paul did
		3.  But if it is self centered and not Christ centered, it will be empty
		4.  Nothing is of any real value without Christ.  Paul explains….
II.  Life After Christ
	A.  Paul counted all personal accomplishments as loss (v.8)
		1.  How did Paul gain Christ?  Counted everything else as rubbish
		2.  Everything previous that he had valued was as trash now
	B.  What is it that you value?
		1.  Hair, hobby, clothes, music, job, good deeds
		2.  If you want to know Christ, consider it all rubbish to know him
			a.  If he calls you to leave it behind, do it without a thought
			b.  Friendship with world is hostility toward God
		3.  That is what Paul did, he left it all behind with no regrets
			a.  The only true thing of value to him was knowing Christ
			b.  For Paul, it was all or nothing
			c.  He did not waffle or straddle the fence
		4.  That is the only way to gain Christ, it is all or nothing
	C.  ILL:  Group of people, fence in middle, God and Satan on either side
		1.  Each began to call to the people, they went with one of them
		2.  One man wanted neither, so he sat on the fence until they left
		3.  A little later, Satan returned, looking around
			a.  Man said, "Did you lose something?"
			b.  Satan said, "Oh there you are, come with me."
			c.  Man said, "I did not chose either of you, I'm on the fence."
		4.  Satans reply, "I know, I own the fence, come with me."
	D.  To gain Christ, it is all or nothing
		1.  You cannot truly know Christ if you are self-centered
		2.  Must offer yourself as a living sacrifice to know him
		3.  This is the AD life, the true life

III.  The AD Life involves 3 things:
	A.  The Power of his Resurrection
		1.  Jesus died on the cross, and redeemed us to God
		2.  His resurrection gives us new life
		3.  It transformed and propelled Paul into ministry
		4.  That same power is available for us if we appropriate these 
     		     other two things - 
	B.  The Fellowship of His Sufferings
		1.  Usually do not think of suffering as an expression of fellowship
			a. Think potlucks, communion, singing together, good times
			b.  These are indeed expressions of fellowship, but…
		2.  Suffering together in a common faith and cause is perhaps the 
    		     strongest expression of fellowship
			a.  Heb 2 - Jesus fellowshipped/shared in flesh & suffered
			b.  When we stand with him, in suffering, we identify with him
			c.  Shows out love and devotion for him
		3.  Most of us will probably not suffer as Christ did, or even Paul
			a.  But today in a foreign country, it is a real possibility
		4.  Surely we can endure
			a.  Surely we can endure ridicule, put up with being oddball
			b.  Surely we can live with losing friends, losing a job
			c.  All of that is rubbish compared to knowing Christ…
	C.  Conforming to His Death
		1.  The greatest expression of all or nothing
		2.  Jesus gave up his life, we are to be living sacrifices for him
			- (Invitation)
		3.  As living dead people, characteristic is dead people not argue
		4.  We go wherever he leads, his interests are our interests
	D.  ILL:  Colin Smith tells about learning to bid on an auction from Dad
		1.  Never scratch your nose at the wrong time
		2.  Most important - Know what your upper limit is
		3.  Danger - When we live Christian life the same way
		4.  Jesus does not allow any limit, it is all or nothing
			a.  Mk 8:35 - Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but 
    			     whoever loses his life for my sake will find it
			b.  This means to count everything else as rubbish
			c.  This means being sold out for Christ
			d.  Conformed to his death

1.  What does this means for us?  Put his mission first above all.
2.  Jesus has given us a purpose and a mission
	a.  We are more than worshippers, we are also ministers
	b.  We have a mission to bring the lost and the Gospel together
	c.  Jesus wants us to make disciples of all the nations, including this one
	d.  Will talk more about our mission as we continue in Ephesians
3.  BC perspective - This is inconvenient, its not my ministry, don't want to stand 
     out, offend anyone, etc.
4.  AD perspective - I am crucified with Christ, not my will but yours,  use me.  I 
    will use it and not bury it in the ground
5.  Where are you this morning?  2006 BC or 2006 AD?
	a.  If AD, God has great things in store, Jesus will come for you and take 
                you home
	b.  If BC, then come to Christ today, let him turn you right side up.  Live in 
                the AD
	c.  Let it truly be in Christ - A Happy New Year, not - Another Old Year.


Small Group Questions:  2006 BC or AD

Summary:  In reflecting on how we order and use the gift of time, we, like Paul, must consider 
our former life (BC) with all its self-centered pursuits as garbage so that we may have the only 
thing of true value, which is knowing Christ.  In knowing Christ, we need to live out his death 
and resurrection daily by making his will our will.

Open (choose one)
- What is your most memorable New Year
- What do you like about New Years?

Explore (Phil 3:4-16)

1.  If Paul were in modern day times writing to a modern day church, what might he say about his 
previous life in modern day terms?

2.  Paul uses some strong words, such as rubbish, or loss.  Why would he count these things 
rubbish or loss "in order to" gain Christ?  Can't he have these things and Christ too?  Why or why not?

3.  Normally self confidence is considered a good thing, but Paul apparently thinks of it as a bad 
thing.  What can be some of the dangerous or destructive things about self confidence?

4.  Describe the things Paul valued most in life from what he says in this passage.


5.  What role does Christ play in your plans, accomplishments, and daily activities?

6.  In what way can/do your personal pursuits challenge you to take you further away from God?

7.  In what way can you place Christ at the center of your plans, pursuits, and activities?  In what
way can Christ use you for his purpose in these things?

8.  What does God want you to do?