IT IS A NEW YEAR
PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH
EPHESIANS 5:15-21 01 JANUARY 2023
It happens once every year. And it is on this day that it happens. Sometimes it happens and no one knows it happened. What am I talking about? Well, Today is January 1st, 2023. It is the dawning of a new year. It is a time to reflect back on 2022 and see where we have been successful, or when we have not measured up to our own expectations that we had for ourselves at this time last year.
I don’t know how many of you make new year’s resolutions. I know I stopped making them many years ago. And why wouldn’t I continue to make them? One main reason is that the record of making the resolution and the length of the keeping of the resolution are non-existent. In other words, I didn’t keep those resolutions.
Someone said: “Last year when I called my parents to wish than a Happy New Year, my dad answered the phone. I asked him, “Well, Dad, what is your New Year’s Resolution?” He answered, “I resolved to make your mother as happy as I can all year. Then Mom got on the phone, and I asked her, “What is your resolution, Mom?”. Mom answered, “To make sure your dad keeps his resolution.”
Here is something to think about as we consider making resolutions – If you do not do anything different from last year, who is to blame? Some might blame a spouse, a friend, or their economic situation, or a dozen other reasons – or excuses. Some might even blame God. But, if we don’t do anything any differently – don’t blame God, or anyone else for that matter.
This morning let’s look at some help from Scripture as we look at how we will face this new year. Ephesians 5:15-21 READ
One Christian Church preacher I read about put it this way: “Here is some good solid advice for making the new year better
The New Year – Be Careful
The New Year – Be Thoughtful
The New Year – Be Thankful
It is fairly easy to pinpoint what are the main New Year Resolutions that people make:
Spend more time with the family
Work on getting my body in shape
Enjoy life more
Get out of Debt
Learn something new
Now, it will take some work and dedication to accomplish any of those resolutions. You probably have heard it said: “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” The resolution will only work if we put forth some work to make it happen.
Let’s go back a moment to those common resolutions people are making today. Did you notice that not one of them has anything to do with spiritual growth? Growing closer to our Lord? Did you notice following Jesus was not included? That is the way it is with most people who make resolutions. They don’t include God or Christ in their plan to have a better year.
As Christians, we should be very careful and ready to include our Lord in every aspect of our lives: our marriages, our family, our children, our work, and what we do in our free time.
In the passage I just read a few moments ago, The Apostle Paul tells the church at Ephesus, to “be careful how you walk”. Be careful in the way you live. Be careful. Be wise. Be careful with your time. Remember it is God’s time. Don’t be a contributor of evil. Seek the Lord’s Will in all things, in every day and in every way.
I am told that a man named Steve Roe, who has sustained many self-induced injuries from a fractured skull, torn rotator cuff, broken wrists, fractured elbows, torn muscles, and on and on.
Steve is a patent attorney who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, a man about 50 years old. He says his injuries were not caused because he tripped. He simply was always in a hurry – worrying about something, multitasking, and being stressed, and these are the things that caused him to become accident-prone.
Stress is a huge factor when it comes to accidents. Hurry, worry, multitasking, stress will lead to accidents.
The same is true when we think of our spiritual life. If we are not properly focused on life, we will suffer for it. Instead of being spiritually focused, we are too often worldly-focused. If we are honest with ourselves, we are not as spiritually focused as we should be.
The Apostle Paul gives us some powerful advice about what we should be focusing on – Colossians 3:1-4 – READ
Several years ago, on November 25, 2009, Toyota Motor Corp. said it will replace accelerator pedals on about 4 million recalled vehicles in the United States because the pedals could get stuck in the floor mats. A lot of companies find, occasionally, that a recall is necessary due to a malfunction or poor planning.
It is possible that on occasion, we, as followers of Christ, need a recall in regard to or lives because we don’t always function as God intended us to. Sometimes we get out of hand and do things contrary to God’s teaching to us. No matter how good we are, sometimes we mess up. So, hopefully, we realize that and attempt to be more careful and use our time more wisely for serving Jesus Christ.
The story is told about a man who was making a delivery to a customer. He is in his truck and pulls up to the entrance to an alley, where he is supposed to make the delivery. At the entrance to the alley, there was a sign, which read: “Blocked. Do Not Pass. Difficult to turn back.” He went ahead anyway. Then he discovered that the alley actually was blocked by a fallen tree. And, just as the sign said, it took a while to turn the truck around. When he finally got back to the entrance of the alley, he saw a second sign. This sign read, “TOLD YOU SO!”
God has told us so many times in life, but it seems that we don’t listen very well! Do you think that is true, for some anyway?
Some people will just keep right on doing the same old things, even when they know they are not right. Someday it will catch up to them. And, at that time, God will do more than just block the road, or put up a sign that reads, “I told you so!”
So, we must be careful how we live. We must make every effort to use our time for the Lord. Seek the Lord in all your life. Serve the Lord no matter what else you do.
Ephesians 5:18 – be filled with the Spirit, not the spirits.
Be thoughtful of others. Always good advice. Paul is actually telling us here that we are to also be thoughtful of God’s Spirit who lives within us.
Someone wrote an article titled, “How To Be Miserable”. It says, “Think about yourself. Talk about yourself. Use the word “I” as much as possible. Listen greedily to what people say about you. Expect everything you do to be appreciated. Be suspicious. Be jealous and envious. Be sensitive to slights. Never forgive criticism. Trust nobody but yourself. Insist on consideration and respect. Demand agreement with your own views on everything. Sulk if people are not grateful to you for favors you show them. Never forget a service you have provided for someone. Shirk your duties as often as possible. Do as little as possible for others.”
Are we ever guilty of that? Maybe, at times. We all like to be appreciated for the good things we do. But we can also get caught up in ourselves if we are not careful. We can become too focused on ourselves and forget about others.
A man named Roy DeLamotte was a chaplain at Paine College in Georgia. He preached the shortest sermon to the students there at the college. But the title of his sermon was fairly long. Here is the title: “What Does Christ Answer When We Ask, “Lord, What’s in Religion for Me?” The total content of his sermon was in one word. “Nothing”. He later explained that the one-word sermon was meant for people who were brought up on the “gimme-gimme gospel. Someone asked how long it took him to prepare his message. He said, “Twenty Years.”
Many people are only interested in what they can get; not what they owe the Lord or not what they can give to others.
Paul has given us several passages of Scripture which will guide us in our thinking and in our lives.
1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Galatians 6:2 – “Bear on another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
Others include: Galatians 5:13; Galatians 6:9-10
Matthew 22:36-40 – When asked which is the greatest commandment in the Law, Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
These two are the greatest commandments. If we love God first of all and then love our fellow human beings, we won’t go wrong.
Going back to verse 18 we can learn this: Instead of being self-centered, we should be Spirit centered. We should think more of Him than we do about ourselves. We need to be more spiritual-minded than worldly or fleshly-minded. If we will set our minds on Scripture, prayer, praising, and serving we will have a much better new year in 2023.
Thirdly, we need to BE THANKFUL
Ephesians 5:20 tells us to always be giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Be thankful in Christ. Living a life of gratitude will keep us on the straight and narrow. People who cannot recognize the blessings they receive in life will never be thankful. Instead, they are always looking for more.
Here is something which is a result of the lack of recognition of the receiving of blessings. The Associated Press conducted a poll among the generation who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s. I don’t know the questions which were asked, but here are the results: The poll revealed that 70% of people are ruder than they were 20-30 years ago. Peggy Newfield, who conducted the survey, reported that the generation which came of age in the 60s and the 70s are now parents who don’t stress the importance of manners, such as opening a door for another person. 93% of persons in the poll were faulted for failing to teach their children well.
Are you quick to be polite in your actions and in your speech? It is easy sometimes to forget to say “thank you” to someone for something they did to help you.
But are we ever rude to God? When we fail to express to Him our thanks and our gratitude for what He does for us every day, that is being rude to God. It is to Him that we owe our greatest thanks and praise. God pays attention to us when we pray and when we don’t. When we praise Him and when we don’t.
Dr. Dale Robbins wrote in one of his books: “I used to think people complained because they had a lot of problems. But I have come to realize that they have problems because they complain. Complaining doesn’t change anything or make situations better. It amplifies frustration, spreads discontent and discord, and can invoke an invitation for the devil to cause havoc with our lives.” In short, what he is saying is this: Complaining makes us miserable. Paul says, in Philippians 2:14 – “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure…”
A positive, thankful person is a great witness in this dark world. We shine only when we are thankful. Our light shines for the Lord when we live it and express it.
It is much more encouraging to hear someone say things like, “bless the Lord” or “Thank you, Lord” than complaints.
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
It is a real and positive statement that a grateful person, a thankful person will live a better life and will be blessed with a better life. Do you want a better life in the year 2023?
How do we make that happen? Be quick to praise God, recognize His blessings to you, give Him thanks for them, and, very importantly - give proper worship to His Son, Jesus Christ.
God would certainly like to see us keep His resolutions. He knows that is the way for us to be blessed and He will be blessed as well.
Walking with the Lord, and doing things His way is the way to be blessed.