Saturday, January 1, 2011

New & Improved


Have you ever noticed that the standards of life have a way of repeating themselves? For example: Each new day begins one second after midnight the previous day and every day lasts a predictable 24 hours; Summer always follows spring, then fall dependably arrives before winter sets in; each new year starts with the month January and ends with December; and every week begins its seven days of existence with Sunday.

These along with the other continuous routines we observe serve to make much of life fairly predictable and each one is designed to offer periodic opportunities to try it again. This dependable cycle of the standards of life insures that everyone from the farmer to the family is always given another chance to start fresh with a new day, a new year or a new season of life.

Genesis 8:22 "While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease."

This is all by God’s design. In fact, God has ordered that all these things continue to revolve in their place for as long as the earth remains.

Everything which operates on God’s time schedule does so predictably and without much noticeable variation. Even the sun, the moon, the stars and the rotation of the earth follow His dictates and submit to the schedule of life which He first prescribed for them. The Bible says that even the wind and the seas obey Him … how much more then should the fashion of His own hands.

One of the only creations of God to fall into disorder and create chaos is mankind. It seems that people have the propensity to want to choose their own way, do their own thing or do things in their own time while attempting to improve on God’s plan. Yet almost every trouble known to mankind started with somebody getting something out of order with God.

And for some reason it seems like the hardest thing in the world to do is to just let go and let God be God, not only in the universe but in our own individual lives. Why is it so difficult to simply do things God’s way?

It has to do with the rebellious nature and the stubborn and selfish will of man. I know some of you think that I’m not talking about you this morning … you’re not rebellious, you’re not stubborn or selfish … well, let’s take a simple self examination that will help determine if you need to listen any further this morning.

Now don’t raise your hand, or raise your spouse’s hand if you please … just consider in your mind and answer this question in your heart for yourself.

Are you doing everything you believe God wants you to do just like you believe God wants you to do it? Are you praying as much as you should; giving as much as you should; reading your Bible as much as you should; and witnessing as much as you believe you should? Do you always think, speak and act like God says a Believer should? Do you love your enemies and bless those who curse you? Are you ever critical, judgmental, prideful or undisciplined? (Shall I go on???)

Life is a series of choices, decisions which must be made and then made over and over again, each time the demand is faced.

God knows your heart, but He also knows you need help from time to time. It is for this reason He gives us continual opportunities for new seasons and fresh starts in life. God is a God of the new! (Even though He says in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new … it is nonetheless “new to us”.)

We, in America at least, are enthralled with the concept of New. We seem to fall into the luring attraction of almost anything new as though the words, “new and improved”, actually meant something.

Why is it you think that we are so fascinated with something new? Could it be a God quality? Perhaps it is.

God is the one who wants us to recognize that He is the God of a new day, a new thing, even a new life.

Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?

Isaiah prophesied God would do a new thing. Jesus told John that He would one day make all things new.

Revelation 21:5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."

In fact, the very picture of God’s redemption is that of us becoming a “new creation”.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Nine times the Bible speaks about singing a “new song”. Six times you find the new song in the book of Psalms, once in the book of the prophet Isaiah and twice in the apocalyptic book of Revelation. Sometimes I like to think about these verses as commands from a counselor or friend who is just plain tired of hearing our repetitive complaints.

Psalms 96:1 Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Almost like, “Oh put a sock in it … for heaven’s sake, could you sing a new song for once” (my emphasis, not the Lord’s I’m sure.) God said the He would even put a new song in our mouths if we would just sing it.

One day, we are told, God will even call us by a new name and create a new heaven and a new earth.

And, when God wanted to give us His very best, He offered us a new covenant built upon better promises and secured not by the blood of bulls but by the blood of His very own Son.

I’m telling you, God is a God of the new! At, least new for us … And, He is always offering us new seasons, new days, new weeks, new adventures, new opportunities and new years.

And, here we are again with another chance to make a New Year’s Resolution and get our life in the order God intends. I know that New Year’s Resolutions are out of vogue and they say “what’s the use of making a commitment you’re only going to break?”, but let me be the first to tell you –

You don’t have to fail! Don’t believe what the world is trying to tell you – they don’t want you to change … they finally have you right about where they want you … but you know some things really do need to change – and they won’t change by themselves.

You will never change anything worthwhile if you cannot or will not change yourself first.

How can you have a new day? How can you change and put your life in order? How can you defeat those rebellious, stubborn, and selfish tendencies of the old nature?

This morning I want to draw your attention to two scriptures in the Bible.

Joshua 24

15 "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

Tell the history leading up to Joshua’s final speech in Shechem, around 1370BC. He was 110 years old at this point and it was time for him to pass off the scene. Why did Joshua choose Shechem. (Abraham; Jacob; Joseph)

Putting our life in order begins with a choice. We can make that choice today.

However, Success demands more than a beginning

Our second scripture for today is found in:

Acts 2

42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

We must begin but we must also continue …

If you want to begin putting your life in order as a part of your New Year’s Resolution for 2011, then might I suggest:

· Set aside one evening each week and designate it as a Sabbath evening for you and your family.

o This is a part of ordering your life and family around God’s plan

o Commit to this and don’t miss it by choice

o This will require you to put away some idols which you have allowed to become gods to your family; if only one hour …

· Read the scriptures together as a family.

· Enjoy family fellowship time.

o Get to know your children and counsel their life

o Play games or enjoy movies together

o Stress “together”, not individually

· Eat a family meal together

o This was a part of the new day strength of the first church

o There is something powerful about breaking bread together

· Family Prayer

o A family that prays together, stays together

You will not begin to take back control of your life and family until you get your life in order … God’s order!

Why not? Make your new year’s resolution today.