Dear Savior, as we begin a new earthly year, we’re grateful that You are starting us out on the right foot. Today You have already caused us to be honest about our lives as sinners and to confess before You. Today You have already forgiven us and unburdened our souls thereby. Today You have already instructed us in eternal truths from Your Word. And today You will listen to our many petitions and fulfill them better than we ask. Lord, thanks for making our new year just right! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE BEGINNING AND END OF EVERYTHING FOR BELIEVERS!
TEXT: Colossians 3: 12-17
Dearly Beloved By the Baby Jesus:
How many of you stayed up till midnight in order to welcome in 2012? Don’t look at me, I have service today and needed my rest….And how many times last night did you say: “Happy New Year?” and then repeat that same greeting today? But, exactly what does: “Happy New Year” really mean? What’s involved, what’s included in it? What expectations are laid out in that age-old sentiment? Today it is all explained to us in our lesson which is really:
GOD’S PRESCRIPTION FOR A TRULY HAPPY AND BLESSED NEW YEAR
If you were to poll the American people and ask them what they wanted in this new year, the answers would be both obvious and quite general.—Love for each other, world peace, food for the hungry, prosperity for all. What’s distinct about the Godly prescription penned by Paul in our lesson is 1st: it’s very specific and 2nd: it reveals exactly how to achieve its goals.
First, let’s hear the specifics: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
You and I are God’s elect in Christ. He chose us before the world was even created to be saved, to be believers in His holy Son, and to be eternal members of His family. All this was made possible by Christ Who loved us without conditions on our part, went to the cross, and gave His life for ours in order to make us right with God. So we need to act what we are. We need to show off the Christian clothing that Jesus has put upon us. Compassion is a caring heart. Kindness is that heart moved to action. Humility is concern for others first and yourself second. Gentleness is always trying to do the right thing without hurting anyone in the process. Patience is never allowing yourself to write someone off because God doesn’t write you off when you make a mistake.
Of course, none of those specifics are achievable or attainable without a forgiving heart. Or as Scripture says here: “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” And forgiveness means you bear with each other and always, always, always try to “put the best construction” on each other’s words and actions. Even if someone hurts you, let it go, if possible, for the greater good of not erecting a roadblock to their faith or your relationship. Winning an argument, but losing a soul for Christ in the process is really quite foolish, is it not?
God’s Prescription for a truly happy and blessed new year is based off of employing these specific virtues within your life on a daily basis. We know they work, too. After all, Jesus employed them and His followers are still in existence to this very day! And that ushers in the 2nd point of this lesson: exactly how do we achieve their results and employ their power? Well, listen again to St. Paul: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
What’s Paul talking about here? It’s worship isn’t it? It’s public worship at church and private worship at home. It’s putting into practice that old-fashioned attitude of: Sunday morning is God’s time. It’s the time to join with my fellow saints to praise Him, learn from Him, and have Him feed and water my soul with the Water of life and the Bread of life. A few months back one of our faithful members had been away on vacation for a couple of weeks. Upon returning, I asked that person: “How are you this morning?” Their reply was: “I’m parched.” They missed worship and they realized how much they were missing out on because at worship Christ honors us and uplifts our souls with the direct application of forgiveness for all our sins. All blessings in life stem from that reality. Cutting yourself off from it is really the same as denying yourself daily blessings and these wonderful virtues of our faith.
But worship doesn’t stop at the church door. It is a lifestyle—”whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in Jesus’ name, giving thanks to God through him.” By now most Americans know all about Tim Tebow, the openly Christian quarterback of the Denver Broncos. He proclaims God’s goodness towards him very publicly both before, during, and after games. Now St. Paul isn’t saying that everyone must do it exactly like that. It’s perfectly fine to be more quiet in your prayers, less strenuous in announcing your faith, and the like. But, a worshipful heart and a worshipful lifestyle are not optional if you truly want to have a blessed and happy new year. Because in the end, worship isn’t just about what we give to God, but primarily about what God gives to us! Don’t you want and need His gifts in 2012? I do. Amen