Summary: New Year’s resolutions are easily broken. New Year’s expectations are a work in progress throughout the entire year. Jesus taught us what is most important in our lives in His Sermon on the Mount.
The trouble with turning over a new leaf is that once you’ve done it twice, you’re right back where you started.
What was the greatest blessing for you last year? The whole year, January through December, on what one day did you find your greatest blessing? It may have been the day your great-grandchild was born. It may have been the day you were offered a job after interviewing countless times before. It may have been the day when your Doctor told you after your surgery that your body was cancer free. It may have been the day the adoption of your little boy or girl was final. It may have been the day you found out you were pregnant, the day you were married, perhaps a special anniversary or when you celebrated another Birthday. It may have been the day your baby was born. It may have been the day you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, or the day you were baptized. It may have been a children’s program, a concert, a vacation to a far-away place or even here at home. It may have been when you bungee-jumped for the first time, dove out of an airplane and parachuted to the ground, surfed the big waves at Wiamea Bay in the North Shore of Oahu, or walked on the moon. It may have been the night you were overwhelmed by the sky filled with stars, or when you danced in the rain. There are lots of possibilities. What one day stands out for you? What was the greatest blessing in your life during this past year?
Many of you received a letter in the mail this past week. The surprising thing was that it came from you. Every year during this time we hand out a half sheet of paper. On it again I will ask you to write down your greatest blessing from the past year. And then I’ll ask you to write down your “expectations” for the upcoming New Year. Notice I didn’t say resolutions. I don’t like the word “resolution.” Everyone makes resolutions for the New Year and everyone breaks them. One slip and the resolution is over. You know the standard ones we make every year: I’m going to lose weight. I’m going to work out and get physically fit. I’m going to get organized. I’m going to stop smoking or stop anything else that may be a vice in my life. I resolve to read the Bible every day, spend more time with family. And the list goes on. The problem with resolutions is that they go in one year and out the other! But expectations are a work in progress. It may be that your expectation for the upcoming year is to lose some weight. Therefore, throughout the course of the year, when I reach December 31st, I expect that I will weigh less than I do now. What are your expectations for this upcoming year?
And once your half sheet of paper is complete, I again will ask you to put it in the envelope that is included, seal the envelope and address it to yourself. What you have written down is between you and God. Please place your self-addressed envelope in the offering plate and sometime during the week between Christmas and New Years, we will send it back to you.
Did you remember what you had written last year? Were your expectations met? Do you still have more work to do? We all do, our lives are a work in progress each and every day, every week, every month and every year. God loves us just the way we are, but He doesn’t want us to stay that way. He wants to push us, to mold us, to transform our lives, to change us so we would take risks to become more like Christ in everything we do. Our first expectation every year should be to become more and more like Jesus Christ.
Let’s see how Jesus addressed what was most important in our lives? What are God’s expectations for us? How should we live our lives to reflect how Jesus lived His?
Reading from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6, verses 25-34. These are the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the plain to the people on the mount. This is Eugene Petersen’s translation known as “The Message.”
"If you decide for God, living a life of worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you put on your body. Look at the birds, free and liberated in the care of God. And you count far more to him than the birds in the air.