Happy New Day
Custom to say Happy New Year.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning,
Great is Thy faithfulness” Lam. 3:22-23
We somehow relate to weekends better than thinking in terms of years. The idea of years somehow seems to put a longer sense of distance from death for us. But when I measure my life by weekends it shakes me enough to ask myself,
“What am I doing with my life?”
If you are age 20 and live to age 70 you have 2,500 weekends left.
If you are age 30 and live to age 70 you have 2,000 weekends left.
If you are age 40 and live to age 70 you have 1,500 weekends left.
If you are age 50 and live to age 70 you have 1,000 weekends left.
If you are age 60 and live to age 70 you have 500 weekends left.
Avg age of longevity in America is now 78 and increasing.
What if you are above the age of 80?
Start celebrating “Happy New Day” and don’t buy any green bananas!
New Years is a time for changes:
Resolutions, goals, diets.
Some churches join Jentzen Franklin for a 21 day fast at beginning of year. We have and it is a good idea. But don’t let it become a work where you think you are earning some favor form God if you do this. Be led by the Spirit. Jesus said, “When you fast” – it should be a private matter between you and God. There are corporate fasts in the Bible and a time when God leads a leader to call it. I have done this and will as the Lord leads.
Some people bring a first fruits offering – above and beyond to the church during January. Again I think it is a good idea but don’t let it become a work you think you are earning favor from God if you do it.
Ask God if He wants you to do any of these things and wait for His answer.
People tell me all the time things we should do as a church – 21 day fast, or this or that. Sometimes they are right and I hear God through them. But somehow I am discerning something else needs to happen first before we do those good things. David must have struggled with this too.
“For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God Are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Psalm 51:17
A broken and contrite heart is one that has met with God and in the light of His Holiness sees their sin and abhors it.
Ill. This was written by David after his sin with Bathsheba and arranging the death of her husband so they could be married and look like a normal thing. God confronted David through Nathan the prophet and it cut David to the heart. As you read through Psalm 51 you see the deep on-going repentance of David from the heart.
David realizes what we all must realize. God is after our heart first! Whatever this broken spirit before God is – is good.
Whatever a contrite heart is – is good.
Then a couple verses later he wrote,
“THEN You will be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
THEN THEY WILL OFFER - young bulls on Your altar.” Verse 19
You can offer religious sacrifices to God without a broken and contrite heart. It is not until you first have this broken spirit and this contrite heart that God will be pleased with such sacrifices. Once your heart is open to God then you willingly offer sacrifices to Him freely.
Ill. A typical Pharisee fasted 2 times a week and brought sacrifices and tithes down to the penny. But one thing they lacked – a broken and contrite heart. If they would have had this, then their sacrifices would have been pleasing to God.
Ill. Rich young ruler came to Jesus, “What else must I do to inherit E.L?”
I’ve done this and that and all the things my church tells I must do. Scripture says Jesus loved him. “Go sell all you have and give it to the poor and come and follow Me.”
Jesus was saying in essence to him. I do not desire sacrifices from you but first I desire a broken and contrite heart.
Scripture does not give us this man’s name. I think it is because we are to put our names in his place and see ourselves as this man before Jesus. “Lord, what do You want me to do with my life? What do You want from Me?”
Jesus’ answer is ambiguous, unclear, not a clear outline with guarantees for security for his future. “Follow Me and I will make you a famous and successful. Give all your money a way and I will make you wealthier than you can imagine. Quit your job and follow me and I will give you a better job. Give this offering and I will give you greater riches. We have to be careful not to try and test the Lord.
- We don’t do something in hopes of getting a greater return.
The only promise is, do this and you will have treasure in heaven. I don’t know about you but that is not very motivational for me! “Lord, could you give me some more details of how this will turn out?” No!
The Lord knows where we lack confidence in Him.
I guarantee you He is working on you in this particular area where you lack confidence in Him.
Ill. Like the man who crossed a part of Niagara Falls on a tightrope in 1800’s. People cheered. Then he did it blindfolded. Then he crossed carrying a sack of potatoes. Then with Wheel barrow. Each time he asked the cheering crowd if they thought he could do this. “Yes you are and greatest.” Do you believe I can cross pushing a wheel barrow with someone in it? “Yes we believe!” then he said okay who wants to volunteer to be in the wheel barrow. No one obliged. I wouldn’t either.
But confidence in the Lord is a greater matter. The way we grow in confidence in God is knowing God. Paul said,
“For my determined purpose is that I may know Him; that I may become more progressively and deeply acquainted with Him . . .” Phil. 3:10 Ampl
A relationship involves 2 people with individual responsibilities.
Our part of our relationship with God is to seek more intimate relationship. God’s part of our relationship is guidance and direction to us. God wants us to say the same thing David said to God in Psalm 27.
“When You (God) said, ‘Seek My face’, my heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, I shall seek.” Psalm 27:8
God’s will for your life is not a tightrope. You have been given a lot of freedom. There is a broad green pasture to explore. The pasture has some boundaries but you have tremendous freedom to choose so much. If we stay close in relationship with God we will know when God says, go, no, or slow.
Pastor is it God’s will for me to do this that? I don’t know unless there is a clear no from the Word. Am I to marry this person? You have freedom to explore with Him and to recognize the boundaries. The Apostle Paul knew the boundaries:
“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.”
I Cor. 10:23
Guidance is a by product that will come out of a right relationship with God.
1. Child – needs an adult to hold their hand crossing the road.
2. Teen – holding hand may seem overbearing. Let them decide.
3. Adult – God’s will is a green light until is turns yellow or red. God does not want us to wait for a prophetic word to do things.
Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” WHENEVER you turn to the right hand or the left.” ISA. 30:21
ILL. God is our Shepherd and we are the sheep. He knows how to communicate to us – if we will listen and not be stubborn and go our own way.
Not long ago I made a decision to do something and then I asked God that night if it was not His will that He would make it clear to me and give me a red light. Next morning a phone call from a friend made it clear not to proceed. If God does not like our choice He will make it clear!
God sees that your relationship with Him is all you need for success in life! We have a tendency to put more confidence in what we have rather than Who we have.
Ill. King David got in trouble with God for wanting to check the numbers of the men who could go to battle if needed. That doesn’t seem like a bad idea. God was deeply offended at David for this.
God wanted David to know, It is not what you have that makes you strong, but Who you have. All God wanted from David was the confidence that God was with him. He wants us to grow in this confidence too.
David wrote a love song to God in Psalm 27. By now He had a lot of history with God. Many times he faced overwhelming odds and was outnumbered. Read from my Bible. But the phrase that stands out to me to give to you as a motto for this year, the last part of verse 3.
“In spite of this, I shall be confident.” Psalm 27:3d
God wants us to be confident in Him. He wants to rid us of fear and worry about the future. He wants us to look to Him and say, “He is all I need!” Hell is after your confidence.
Should we make plans for our life without knowing God’s plans first?
Yes – start moving. You have a green light until God makes it red. But you will only see a red light if you are alert to Him.
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9
Out of this close relationship - guidance for our lives will come.
Ill. In Acts 16 Paul and Barnabas on a mission trip. At one place Paul was so beaten with stones, some say he died and was resurrected. What would you do in a case like this.
- Question was I in the will of God since bad things happened? They didn’t question it. They didn’t spend 40 days fasting about where they should go next. They just went to the next town knowing persecution would come, attacks from the devil will happen. But, “In spite of this I will be confident.”
- At one point they were making plans to go into Asia but somehow “the Holy Spirit did not permit them.” Acts 16:7
How? We don’t know but we do know they had such a good relationship with God that they could recognize a red light when they saw one from God.
Paul took care of the relationship and God took care of the direction.
You take care of the relationship, God will take care of the direction.
Ill. Have you ever ran a red light? You only see a stop light if you are alert to it. Have you ever ran past God’s red light? Our first priority is to be alert to God and “in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:7
Concl: Regarless of your past and how many of God’s red lights you have ran – good news from Him. Happy New Day. Let’s leave here alert to Him and paying attention when He is saying – go – slow – or no.
“In spite of all this, I shall be confident.” Psalm 27:3d