Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Sermon-- It's Time-- New Year's Sermon

What a difference a year makes. In 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected as the president of the United States and even before he took office, 7 states seceded and by April 12th, 1861, the Civil War had begun. Between 1917 and 1918 the United Sates lost 110,000 casualties.

Many things

Last year at this time, where were you? What were you doing? What has happened between then and now? What has changed? Some of you have lost loved ones, others have gained grandchildren that you would have never suspected this time last year. What can happen in the next year that will change your life?

Think of your first year of marriage, your first year as a parent, your first year of high school, your first year of college. So much can change in so little time.

• This Year and Every Day in it is a Gift from God
o More than just the year, every day is a Gift
o PS 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
o God made this day and He has allowed you, granted you the privilege to be a part of it. You and I are not eternal, we do not control our presence

o The Psalmist wrote, "PS 39:4 "Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. PS 39:5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath." [Psalm 39:4-5].
o And then again, "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" [Psalm 139:16].
o God is the One who created our life each day, each moment is a gift from Him. So every day should be appreciated—every day no matter what is going on in life.

o He doesn’t fill us in on all the details.PR 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”—but He desires that we be faithful with the gift He has given.
o You Have a Choice--Every day of this year must be dedicated and given over to God—every day’s problems must be given to Him—every day’s needs must be sought from Him—ask Him for your daily bread.
o Commit to live each day as a gift from God, as something irreplaceable—don’t waste it, don’t take it for granted. Dedicate yourself and your day to Him and a year of those kind of days those years will never be considered a failure. Your life and the life of those around you are precious.
o So many things can happen in the next year—what can you think of?
o Most of those examples were bad—why do we do that? Why aren’t there more thoughts of the good things that can happen in the coming year?

• This Year You Will Fight Many Battles
o You may be glad that this past year is over—maybe it’s been pretty tough on you. I will not stand up here and say everything’s going to be easy—everything’s going to be a piece of cake.
o I guarantee, you will experience tough times this year. They may be as a result of your health, of your job, they may even be in your relationships, friendships, family member, even your marriage. You will have your feelings hurt, you will want to cry, to lash out.
o You and I will battle, daily temptations—especially the temptation to face these moments alone.
o The enemy will hurl fiery arrows in our direction to take out our effectiveness for the Kingdom of God.

o Sin is a guarantee for trouble in this world—as a Believer Jesus guaranteed it—JN 16:33 "In this world you will have trouble.”

o You are a part of a larger battle—our enemy the devil prowls around searching for someone to devour As much as we will have battles as a Nation, we will have battles to fight as a church—we will have important decisions to make—you will have battles as an individual. You and I, in desiring to serve our Savior will be on the front line of the battle that is not against flesh and blood.
o Eph. 6:12—“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

o We are not left defenseless—we are given armor to put on, we are given the Holy Spirit to lead us, we are given the Sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.
o But it is the Battles that most often grow and strengthen our faith. What would we have to say about Moses if there was not a struggle to leave Egypt—What about David—he is most famous for what?

o What about Elijah—if there’s one thing we know about him it is ____________.
o Paul wrote many of his letters from prison. And Jesus endured great temptation in the desert, great opposition which eventually led Him to the Cross—and it is there in that Battle, that our greatest Victory was won.

o So don’t be surprised or dismayed by my saying you will have battles to fight this year.

o Our hope comes from the fact that Jesus also said “But take heart! I have overcome the world."” This simple truth—that Jesus has overcome the world is what makes the challenges, difficulties and battles you and I are going to face this year bearable.

o Peter says in 1 Peter 1:6-7--though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
o Our struggles and battles refine and prove our faith genuine. And they also result in Praise, Glory & honor for Jesus
o So in that—since every day is a gift, since every day there will be a battle of some kind--

• Every Day is Filled with Opportunities
o To Make a Difference
o To Give Glory to God
o To Bring Glory to God
o Every Day is a Day to Impact the Kingdom of God
o In 1269 Kublai Khan sent a request from Peking to Rome for "a hundred wise men of the Christian religion...And so I shall be baptized, and when I shall be baptized all my baron and great men will be baptized, and their subjects baptized, and so there will be more Christian here than there are in your parts." The Mongols were then wavering in the choice of a religion. It might have been, as Kublai forecast, the greatest mass religious movement the world has ever seen. The history of all Asia would have been changed.

But what actually happened? Pope Gregory X answered by sending two Domnican friars. They got as far as Armenia, could endure no longer and returned home. So passed the greatest missionary opportunity in the history of the church.

o How would this world be different if we don’t miss the opportunities that God puts before us.

o Galatians 6:9-10--9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
o EPH 5:15 Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
o Colossians 4:5-6--5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
o Don’t miss an opportunity to share your faith when God opens the door, or God interrupts your routine
o Don’t miss an opportunity to say “I love you” or God loves you.
o Don’t miss an opportunity to do Good and be a neighbor—even when it’s inconvenient, even when it’s an interruption, even when it may make you late—when someone is in need—be the presence and power of Jesus in that moment.

• Romans 13:11-12 says, "The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness & put on the armor of light."
• You’re and my salvation—that moment when Christ calls us home, or when He returns in glory—that moment is nearer now, today, this year than ever before.
• We need to have our Hearts Awakened to the Heart of God and make the most of every opportunity—that is where our great challenge and adventure lies.
• Commit to make a difference every day

• You want to make a resolution, don’t make one that is for your benefit only—make one that has can have an eternal impact
• Commit to reading through the entire Bible this year
• Commit to Deliberately seeking out 5 of your neighbors or coworkers to ask them if you can pray for them touching base with them 3 times a month
• Commit to inviting 3 people or families to church every month
• Commit to personally leading 2, 3 or 5 people to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior this year.
• How many of you already have the battle raging inside of you?
• I can’t do that?
• I don’t know my Bible that well.
• I’ll be embarrassed.
• I always hate it when someone comes to my door.
• Someone else more gifted can do it.
• Live each day with the expectation that God has something wonderful to do in you and through you. Live each day with the expectation that you will see God do something wonderful in your life, something wonderful through you.

If you have no dream or expectation or no vision for growing our church then get ready. In the coming weeks, we’re going to be looking at the dangers of not having a vision, the benefits that come from having a vision, and the choice made between them. In that time, I want you to commit to asking God to give you a vision for this church and your part in it. Vision is rarely easy, it rarely makes you comfortable—so if your vision for UBC is something you can do from your couch, while you sleep or the comforts of your own home, then you need a bigger vision.
In the coming days and weeks—some moments are going to be laid before you—some decisions that you will have to make, some commitments you will need to pray over. You’ll be hearing us talk about them here—and some of them will be a battle. I guarantee some things you won’t be too interested in—there will be a voice whispering in your ear—don’t do that—you’ll look silly

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