A New Year

New Years   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:08
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Ephesians 5:15–20 ESV
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Happy New Year!
As we bring in this New Year, I want to bring you some sage advice, passed along as traditions from generations to generations.
Run with an empty suitcase. It’s believed that lugging around an empty suitcase will bring you a year filled with adventure and travel.
Put cash in your wallet. It suggests that if you have cash in your wallet, you’ll have a year of prosperity.
Don’t cry. Some say it could result in you having a year of sadness.
Eat collard greens! And hog jowl, and black eyed peas, and stewed tomatoes, etc… This southern tradition is thought to bring about lots of good things in the months ahead, including prosperity and good luck.
Avoid eating chicken. (Hard for a Baptist!) If you don’t, the year may end up being full of bad luck because chickens have wings, and your luck will fly away if you have it on New Year’s Eve.
Run 7 times around your house. It’s believed that if you run around your house seven times, you’ll have good luck in the New Year.
Step with your right foot. Several cultures think that you shouldn’t step into the New Year on your left foot. That way you’re guaranteed to start things off on the right foot!
Open the doors at midnight. If you open your door just before midnight, it’s supposed to be a way you can let the old year out and welcome the new one in.
Know what you do on New Years, you will do all year. Wow, what better way than to be in church!
Make New Years Resolutions. How well does this work for us?
Do you see a trend with these traditions? They’re mostly focused on “ME”! More money, good luck, travel, better living, lifestyle changes…it all focuses on our own well-being and mostly selfish desires. But is that what God desires for us?
1 Corinthians 10:24 ESV
24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
Instead of being self-focused, God changed the focus of this world through the gift He gave us so that we could not only enjoy a new year, but a new life.
Romans 5:8 ESV
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
In all Christ did in His life on earth, he showed us what sacrificial love was like. He proved to us, there is more to life than what this world offers.
Matthew 6:19 ESV
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,
But instead, we should focus on the things HE desires for those who believe in Him.
Matthew 6:20 ESV
20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
So, how is it we live a life that is pleasing to God?

Live a Life Pleasing to God

Ephesians 5:15–16 ESV
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
As Christians, we are a peculiar people.
1 Peter 2:9 ESV
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
If we are set apart as someone different, then what should that different look like? It should look like Christ. Selfless, and obedient to God. We should no longer walk as unbelievers walk. Instead, we should be walking in the way of educated believers. These Gentiles had heard Christ, had been taught by Him, had been urged to know and follow Him. The same thing happens to each of us, we hear from Christ, we are being taught by Christ, and we are urged to know and follow Him through Scripture. He is our pattern. We put off the old, and put on the new, as the old was done away with on the cross.
Romans 6:6 ESV
6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
As we seek to be more like Christ this year, it will help us understand God’s will, especially as time passes and the days become more evil.

Understand God’s Will

Ephesians 5:17 ESV
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
How do we become less foolish?
Romans 12:2 ESV
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Our mind is renewed, it is a rebirth - from a life of sin, into a life of truth. Now, here comes the hard part - truth is not always what we want to hear. As we look at the new year, let it be a time where we seek to understand what the will of the Lord is in our lives. Even when that understanding comes by testing. If we look at what Paul is trying to say here, it is for us to know what God has already revealed to us as His will. Today, that is an urging to read and understand the Bible. We have been called to pattern our lives around the life of Jesus.
We can take peace and comfort knowing that we are not alone, and it is not up to us to only read scripture and try to find out on our own what God’s calling for us is, BUT we have been given another promise.
John 15:26 ESV
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
We have been sent the Holy Spirit, but do we choose to be FILLED by Him?

Filled with THE Spirit

Ephesians 5:18 ESV
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
I’m sure there were many last night were full of liquid spirits…and are probably suffering the consequences this morning, and maybe making empty resolutions to “never do that again”. A sign of excess well beyond what is necessary or needed, and leading to undisciplined actions. This is NOT the life we are called to live.
Galatians 6:9 ESV
9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Paul wants us to have a healthy resolution to be filled with the Holy Spirit! We know these past few years have been full of uncertainties, unknowns, losses, pain, and uneasiness. But that is not what this life is intended to be. We should not grow weary of life, but should be seeking to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We should not be living to fall under the influence of spirits, but the influence of God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, controlled by the presence of Christ through His Word.
When we finally submit to God’s Will, then our countenance changes, our outlook changes, our hope changes, our SOUL changes and we can sing a cheerful song.

Sing a Cheerful Song

I have a question for the congregation. Why is it we (at least Baptist) always look as though we sucked on a lemon, right after eating a green persimmon, and tried to cure it by eating a tablespoon of alum? Our heart should be so full of the Holy Spirit, that we carry a cheerful song with us everywhere! God intends for us to be joyful and cheerful! How do we keep this cheer? By following in God’s commandments and abiding (staying) in His love.
John 15:10–12 ESV
10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Once we learn to love as God has loved us, then we can no longer contain our joy! We would be singing and testifying when we come together. Instead of church becoming a social engagement, it would be centered around the public worship and adoration of God for all He has done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ!
Romans 15:13 ESV
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
It is through that hope that we can truly be thankful.

Be Thankful

Ephesians 5:20 ESV
20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Is it easy to always be thankful? When everything is going the way we want them, then we seem to be more thankful. But then we seem to get complacent, and we lose our thankfulness, and we forget the reason we should be thankful.
If we want to keep the Spirit filled song in our heart, we should always give thanks. Not when we feel like it, not when we remember to, not when something good happens, but in EVERYTHING we should give thanks. Thanks given TO God, through the Name of Jesus Christ. And just as Jesus submitted to the will of the Father, so we must submit to each other.

Submit to Each Other

Ephesians 5:21 ESV
21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
In some sense we are all servants, i.e. we are bound to serve others; the very father is, in this sense, servant of his child. So in the Christian Church we are all to serve one another by love.
John 13:15 ESV
15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
But does this always happen? Even within the church, there are times where there will be disagreements or differences of opinions. But is what happens among believers that matters. We must guard ourselves and our thoughts, attitudes, and actions when we disagree.
Galatians 5:15 ESV
15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
We should, instead, be humble - giving to others what Jesus teaches that we owe them.
Philippians 2:5–8 ESV
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
It is by modeling our lives after the life of Christ, that we find true comfort, peace, joy, knowledge, understanding, humility, and thankfulness.


Don’t you think we could use more of these traits in 2023?
Don’t you think we could try things God’s way instead of “our way”???
What awesome changes could occur in our lives, in our families, churches, communities, state, nation, world IF we chose to submit to the will of God, the one who has given ALL we have to us? You see, we don’t need self centered resolutions, but we need to recenter our obedience on/to God out of reverence. Let us strive for a right relationship with God, and fellow Christians in the upcoming year.
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