Psalm 1447:12-20
Ephesians 1:3-14
“It’s Going To Be A Great Year”
Christmas 2
January 4, 2015
I heard about a high school principal who, at the start of the New Year, decided to ask the teachers to write their New Year’s resolutions and give them to him. He then posted the teachers’ New Year’s resolutions on the bulletin board in the main hallway of the school. As the teachers and students gathered the first day in school of the New Year, a crowd began gathering around the bulletin board, reading the teacher’s resolutions. Suddenly a great commotion started. One of the teachers was yelling:
“Why weren’t my resolutions posted?”
She was throwing such a temper tantrum that the principal hurried to his office to see if he had overlooked her resolutions. Sure enough, he had mislaid hers on his desk. As he read her resolution, though, he had to chuckle to himself. Her first resolution was:
I will not to let little things upset me in the New Year.
Four days into 2015, I don’t know how you are doing on your New Year’s resolutions. I do know something that is more important than resolutions, though, and that is this: How do you see this New Year?
Is 2015 a year that you approach with anxiety or anticipation? Are you excited about the new opportunities God may give you to serve Him or are you too worried or preoccupied with what you consider past mistakes to think God can bless you in a new way and make this year different?
For that matter, how do we as a Church see 2015? Do we approach 2015 with fear or with excitement? Do we see it as a year where we can focus on new and great things that we can do for God or do we see it as a year where problems are going to hold us back and keep us from being the Church that God is calling us to be?
How we see the year ahead of us, as individual Christians and as a Church, is of vital importance!
There’s a great story about the Egyptian archaeologist Howard Carter. In 1922 Carter was completing nearly fifteen years of digging in the famous Valley of the Kings in Egypt. He was hoping to find the royal tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen, who we know as King Tut. However, in fifteen years he had had no luck, and his days of digging seemed to be coming to an end. Money was running out. It seemed he was going to have to pack up and go home. Then workers discovered sixteen stairs leading into the earth. Filled with hope, Carter and his workers removed rocks and sand until eventually a door was found at the end of a long passageway. Carter drilled a small hole in the door and stuck an iron-testing rod into a dark, blank space. He then inserted a candle into the hole and peered in. As his eyes grew accustomed to the light, details emerged into his view, and he saw strange animals, statues, and everywhere the glint of gold. One of his colleagues asked: “Can you see anything?” And Carter’s reply was, “Yes, wonderful things.”
Like Howard Carter peering into the chamber of the tomb of King Tut, we can look into this new year and see wonderful things. We can look into this New Year and be filled with excitement instead of anxiety. We can look into the New Year and know that it’s going to be a great year.
How do I know that? I know that because I take God at His word and I trust what He says. You can, too. In Ephesians 1:3-14 Paul gives some reasons for why you and I can look into this New Year and see wonderful things. He gives us 3 reasons why we can look at 2015 with anticipation instead of anxiety. He gives 3 reasons why we can know it’s going to be a great year.
First, he writes, we are blessed. In verse 3 Paul writes:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
We are blessed! You are blessed! Paul says so! God says so! If you don’t feel blessed, maybe you aren’t believing God’s word to you. God says that you are blessed. It’s up to you if you are going to believe it or not.
Maybe you’ve heard about the king who called in two of his servants. To the first he said, “I want you to travel for six months through my kingdom and bring back a sample of every weed you can find.” To the second servant the king said, “I want you to travel through my kingdom for six months and bring back a sample of every flower you can find.” Six months later, both servants stood before the king. The king asked, “Have you carried out my command?” The first servant answered: “I have, and I was amazed to find there were so many weeds in the kingdom. In fact, there is nothing but weeds in this kingdom!” The second servant answered, “I have, and I am amazed how many beautiful flowers there are in the kingdom. In fact, there is nothing but beautiful flowers in this kingdom!”
These two servants each found what they were looking for. So do we. God has blessed us but we have to look for His blessings in our lives instead of overlooking them. Has God really abandoned you and left you with any blessings? I seriously doubt it. I believe that if you look you will find a lot of ways that God has blessed you and a lot of reasons to believe that God will continue to bless you and make this year a great year for you. Has God really abandoned our Church and given us nothing to hope for, or no future bright with opportunities to serve Him? No! If we look we will find a lot of ways that God has blessed us and given us a future bright with opportunities to serve Him. If we look we will find many reasons to believe that it’s going to be a great year!
Some college girls were renting a house and one day an old man appeared at the back door. They were a little leery of him. His eyes were glassy and his furrowed face glistened with silver stubble. They thought he was an alcoholic and had no idea what else he might be. He clutched a wicker basket holding a few vegetables, bid the girls a good morning and offered his produce for sale. They were uneasy about having what they thought was this old alcoholic at their doorstep and made a quick purchase to get rid of him. To their chagrin, he returned the next day and introduced himself as Mr. Roth, a man who lived in the shack down the road. As their fears subsided, they got close enough to realize it wasn’t alcohol but cataracts that marbleized his eyes. On subsequent visits, he would shuffle in, wearing two mismatched right shoes, and share his philosophy about life. On one visit, he exclaimed: The Lord is so good! I came out of my shack this morning and found a bag full of shoes and clothing on my porch.” “That’s wonderful, Mr. Roth!” the girls aid, “We’re happy for you.” “You know what’s even more wonderful?” he asked. “Just yesterday I met some people that could use them.”
Friends, you are blessed, you just have to see it and live like it. As a Church, we are blessed. We just have to see it and live like it.
It’s going to be a great year. Let’s count our blessings.
So, first of all it’s going to be a great year because God says we are blessed and we need to believe it an act like it.
Second Paul says that we are chosen. He writes in verse 4:
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
You have been chosen. We have been chosen. Wow! That, friends, is exciting! You and I have been chosen! What a beautiful word “chosen” is. There were times that I felt the sting of being “unchosen” as a kid. I was never good in sports, and while now I know that doesn’t really matter, as a kid I felt like it did. On the playground at school I was usually the last one chosen for the softball games. In fact, at times they would fight over me, not because both team captains wanted me, but because neither team captain did! When I was in High School I tried out for the basketball team and made the team! I was so excited! Then I found out that everybody who tried out made the team. I spent every day in practice running laps with the rest of the guy, but unlike the rest of the guys I would spend the games on the bench. I was not first – second – or even third string! I think I played maybe one or two minutes a season.
For all of you here today who have known what it feels like to be “unchosen” and to “ride the bench” I have some good news for you: God has chosen you! God has chosen us! When it really matters, you and I are not left out. We have been chosen. God has chosen us. Do you believe that? Live like it! God has chosen you to be a part of His great work of salvation into the world. You just have to see it ad live like it. As a Church, we are chosen. We just have to see it and live like it.
It’s going to be a great year. God has chosen us to do His work and will this year. It’s going to be great! It’s going to be great because God says we are blessed and God says we are chosen.
Thirdly Paul says that we are predestined. In verse 5 Paul writes:
He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
God’s ultimate will for all of us is that we recognize ourselves to be members of His own family, and when we realize that we are predestined from the beginning of time to be members of that family we come to see ourselves as we really are, that is, sons and daughters of our divine father.
Do you believe yourself to be predestined to be a part of God’s great family? Do you believe that we are all predestined to be a part of God’s great family? God has predestined you to be a part of His great family and as a part of that great family you can not fail! God has predestined us to be part of His great family and as a part of that great family we can not fail! Friends, you are predestined to be a part of God’s great family, you just have to see it and live like it. As a Church, we are predestined to be a part of God’s great family, we just have to see it and live like it.
It’s going to be a great year! God has blessed, chosen, and predestined us to do His work and be His people this year! It’s going to be great!
As we look into this New Year, why shouldn’t we see great and wonderful things? We have been blessed, we have been chosen, we have been predestined to do God’s work and will in the world! These promises gvve us hope for our lives, and for the new year. Amen.