Summary: Will 2012 mark the end of the world or will it be yet another opportunity for us to surrender our plans, hopes and ambitions to God. This expository sermon suggests we Surrender our plans, Savor each moment, and Seek God's will. Custom PowerPoint is avail
New Years 2012
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 1/1/2012
Today is the first day of a new year and, according to certain prophecy pundits, it could be your last year on earth! Both soothsayers and science-fiction scribes have been predicting the end of the world in 2012 based on their interpretation of the ancient Mayan calendar. The Mayan civilization was extremely advanced in mathematics, engineering and astronomy. They also had an incredible understanding of time and space and used various calendars to track time in linear progressions within cycles. The Great Cycle of the Long Count calendar equates to 5,125 years. The current Great Cycle is due to be completed on the winter solstice of 2012, December 21. Many have interpreted the end of the Great Cycle as the end of the world. You may have even seen the blockbuster movie a couple of years ago, titled 2012, billed as an epic adventure about a global cataclysm that brings an end to nearly all life on earth.
Not to be outdone, Bible prophecy fanatics have jumped on the bandwagon with their charts and codes and you-better-believe-it prophecies. But if there is one lesson Harold Camping and his ilk have taught us, it’s that you can rest assured these so-called “prophecy experts” will be proven 100% wrong, 100% of the time. If Jesus does choose to return in 2012 it will be in spite of these doomsday predictions, not because of them.
But let’s suspend disbelief for just a moment. What if Jesus really did return in 2012? What if this really was your last year on earth? Would you live your life differently? Would people notice the changes? What alterations would this knowledge have on your stress levels? Your work schedule? Your mood swings? Your temper? Would you sleep better? Would you see sunsets differently?
Bottom-line, we don’t know when Christ will come and we don’t know when we will take our last breath. So as we stand at the threshold of a brand-new year, what are you living for? How can we make the most of the next 365 days. There is a passage of Scripture that I believe can be of help to us as we look forward to the coming year—if we’ll listen to it, that is. The passage is found in the book of James, written by Christ’s younger brother. Here’s what it says:
Pay attention to this! You’re saying, “Today or tomorrow we will go into some city, stay there a year, conduct business, and make money.” You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. What is life? You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears. Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and carry out our plans.” (James 4:13-15 GWT).
James gets right to the point, doesn’t he? In this brief passage I see three lessons, codified by three simple verbs that are worth remembering as we embark on 2012. The first of those lessons is codified by the verb surrender.
Surrender your plans for 2012 to God. There’s an old adage—if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. James addresses this passage to people who seem to be doing just that. Their business plan was pretty good. They had everything figured out. They would choose when they would leave, where they would go, how long they would stay, what business would be conducted, and even how much profit they would earn.
James’ reply to them is simple: “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow?” (vs. 14 NLT).
A while back, the Associated Press ran a story about Andre-Francois Raffray. Almost fifty years ago, at the age of forty-seven, he worked out a real estate deal with Jeanne Calment, who was ninety years old. He would pay her $500 each month until her death, in order to secure ownership of her apartment in Arles, France. That might seem strange to Americans, but this is actually a common practice in France, benefiting both buyers and retirees on a fixed income. Unfortunately for Raffray, Jeanne Calment had become the world's oldest living person. She lived to be 120, outliving Raffray, who died at the age of seventy-seven. He paid $184,000 for an apartment he never lived in. According to the contract, Raffray's survivors had to continue the payments until Mrs. Calment died.
Mr. Raffray thought he was looking to the future and making a shrewd investment. But, as it turned out, he had no idea what tomorrow would bring.
Neither do you.
Does this mean shouldn’t ever make any plans, just live by the seat of our pants? No. Of course, not. That would be irresponsible. But it does mean that we must always surrender our plans to God’s purposes. In Psalm 139, David writes, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Psalm 139:6 NLT). You see, God has his own plans. He mapped out your entire life before you born. He’s the boss. He calls the shots and he has the authority. What he says goes. In other words, God is in control—of everything!