Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we stand at the threshold of a new year. The future, the unknown, stretches out before us. We don’t know exactly what 2005 will bring.—Will it be sickness, job changes, financial stability, memorable moments?—We don’t know. But, what we do know is that Your love and blessings for us and toward us will not cease! Lord, move us to cling to that truth, because then we will be able to bask in the comfort and joy that only You can bring. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GIVER OF EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT!
TEXT: I Timothy 4: 8: “For physical training is of some value; but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
Fellow Redeemed Sinners Blest By God:
Last Sunday one of the members told me about a tsunami that had hit Southern Asia. At the time I didn’t give it much thought aside from a passing: “That’s too bad.” Like most of you, the information was sketchy and natural disasters are always over-reported in our information driven world. But, this one was under-reported, wasn’t it? And since last week we’ve all be inundated with horrible pictures along with tales of heroism and wonderment as to how some of those poor people survived.
Amid all this pain, suffering, and loss people are asking that age-old question: “Why?” Why did it happen? And many are blaming God for being some sort of bully Who really doesn’t care about people after all. One of the sad things about all this commentary has been that people immediately point their finger at God during such negative events, but they never seem to give Him glory when blessings are showered upon this world that He created.
Why do natural disasters occur? Why did God allow this one to occur? Well, the answer to that question belongs to the realm of the hidden God. But, what we do know is that God wants us to learn from it. What we do know is that God wants each of us to optimize our time of grace on this earth. What we do know is that we should all:
MAKE TIME FOR GOD AND RECEIVE HIS COMFORT
A new year has dawned and you and I are still here on planet earth unlike those 125,000+ that have died in Asia. We’re blest, aren’t we? We still have our families, our jobs, our homes, our possessions, our health, but most of all we have our Savior. He’s right inside our hearts. He has humbled Himself in order to live in, to dwell in, the temple of our bodies and especially our souls. Why? Why would God choose to live in and with me? Of course, the answer is: He loves you that much. And He proved it on the cross by giving His life up as a ransom for yours and mine.
Do you think about this amazing truth every day? Do you marvel at it and rejoice over it, or do you take it for granted? Is your God a rabbit’s foot that you trot out when you feel the need, or is He an ongoing reality that you seek to honor in good times along with bad ones? Obviously He’s made time for you. In fact, He created time for you to live in and to use to honor Him. So, do you actively seek to reciprocate and make time for Him?
Today is a new year. Today is a wonderful time to clean up your act by cleaning up your soul. Today is a great time to let God be God—in, with, and for you! In our lesson St. Paul writes words of advice and encouragement to young pastor Timothy. He says: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” In our health-conscious, beauty-driven culture, where people are hitting the gyms today to “get in shape,” we can relate to the first half of that statement. We put a premium on what we can see. We value good health and the appreciation of blessings that come from it. But man and woman do not live on bread alone. Or for that matter on cars, money, vacations, or having a 20 year old body forever, either. And that’s where the second half of our lesson comes in. “Godliness has value for all things.” Putting God # 1 in your life pays huge dividends both in “the present life and in the life to come.”
When you make time for God, you will receive His Comfort! Let me give you some examples. If you’re married and follow God’s prescription for a healthy marriage by honoring each other and practicing the “forgive and forget” advice He gives you, you can overcome any and all problems with a clean conscience. If you raise your kids according to the commandments, practicing love which sometimes has to say: “No” you’ll teach them to respect you because when life gets tough and says “No” they’ll be able to cope. When you take your problems to the Lord in prayer, they’ll become less weighty because you’ll be handing them off to Someone who can really help! Just knowing that God is in your corner and that you can rely on Him is a tremendous comfort! For thereby you’ll also know: “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength!”
Obviously making time for God means regular worship attendance. For every week you’re reminded right here that God forgives you every sin while also giving you new directions for your life. But making time for God is really an attitude, isn’t it? It is an attitude born of the knowledge that “nothing in all creation (including tidal waves) can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Armed with that truth you know that job changes, financial instability, a health crisis, terrorism, even death—none of that really matters in the end because the certainty of heaven and its happiness awaits.
Over the years I’ve officiated at many funerals. Funerals are sad. They are final. They are the closing of an individual’s book of life. At some of those funerals I’ve observed non-believers, or even very weak Christians, fall apart. They’re sad, angry, and forlorn all at the same time. But, when they hear the gospel. When they hear that God gave His life for their loved one and them. When they hear of the resurrection they are intrigued and hope that such comfort is real. Well, when you make time for God it will be real for you! When you make time for God His comfort will sustain you here and hereafter.
We don’t know exactly what the new year will bring our way. But, we do know that when we make time for God we will receive His comfort. And it is that spark my friends that makes living worth continuing and death worth embracing. Because for the Christian, hope, hope stands behind and anchors both! Amen