1/1/2012 New Years Day Sermon Notes
I love that God our Father gives us new mercies every day. We don’t have to be stuck in yesterday. Or even be the same as we were yesterday. There are always new beginnings for us. There are new chances to start over, to make things right, to begin again. We even get to be born anew. How cool is that?! And the best of all He is making all things new: a new heaven and a new earth.
I am struck by the fact that we have a part to play in our new beginnings. Our choice. This is a gift that God has given to every person that makes these new beginnings possible. It is the gift of choice, or the gift of free will. It is a precious gift.
We can say yes.
We can say no.
We get to choose:
Light or dark
Life or death
The power or authority to choose is ours.
Every day we choose which path we are going to follow. This is where we meet God.
He chooses us, we choose him. He does not force us to love and follow him, but invites us. Then the choice is ours.
He shows us the way – we choose to follow or not
He invites us in to the banquet – we choose to stay out in the cold or come in
Sounds easy right? But why is it so hard?
Why do we struggle so hard to do the right things, to say no to the wrong things?
Jesus said some really strange words once:
Luke 16:16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.”
I am not sure I know exactly what this means but I get the sense there is some action on our parts to enter this kingdom. We have been given an Inheritance from our Father. It is a gift to us. Yet, we have a part to receive it. We can think of it as a matter of a few legal issues. Can you imagine the daughter or son of a very wealthy person who has just inherited all of her/or his Father’s estate? I think there are few legal matters to take care of in order to claim that inheritance. #1 Prove who you are. Yes, I can prove that I am the heir. Sign a few documents perhaps. It is not going to do you any good if you just point down the road to the property and say yeah, that is mine, and not do anything about it, to claim it.
I think this is where again we meet God with our free will. He invites us to come into his kingdom and join his family. We have a few things to do to claim our inheritance.
Agree to the adoption
We belong to Him. He is our Father.
Leave our old house and come into his.
Sign up and follow him.
Back to the question why is it so hard?
We forget we are in a battle. One of the areas the enemy strikes us at is at our will. He wants to get us to lay it down. It is very dangerous to him when we use it to choose the things of God: The good, the light, the life. It pushes him right out of the picture. He lives in evil, in darkness, in death. He tries to get us to believe we can’t do it. Anybody ever hear voices like this in their heads: “It is just too hard. Or you have failed before why even try? You have messed up this far, might as well keep going. It doesn’t really matter. You’re never going to be able to change.” We have heard them so much that we start agreeing with them.
On the contrary: “We can do all things through him who strengthens us!” We can! We are able. We have the gift of free will. We have authority. We just need to learn how to use it.
Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
Another reason it is hard. Between choosing and receiving our promises there is often a space called waiting. We don’t like to wait. We pretty much want everything now. It is an important part. The waiting is a preparation for the gift. Sometimes we aren’t quite ready for it. When we wait we get stronger.
Isaiah 40: 28-31: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope (wait for) in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
One more verse to help us with our resolutions:
Hebrews 12:12-13 “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
You see we have a part in our healing. We strengthen our feeble arms and weak knees….then we wait. In that waiting and strengthening our Healer comes.
This is really good news. Everyday is new. Everyday we have the opportunity to walk more into our inheritance. We get to choose to say yes to our Father, hoping in Him and waiting for all that He has promised us.