Summary: 2010 is upon us. If we want to be begin afresh with God, leaving behind last years failings, where do we start?
Sermon for CATM – A New Year, A New Day – January 3, 2010
I’ve heard recently some interesting New Year’s resolutions: "I have resolved not to do drugs anymore, because I get the same effect just standing up really fast."
“I will stop sending e-mail, ICQ, Instant Messages and be on the phone at the same time with the same person”.
"I have resolved to live in my own little world, because at least they know me here." Perhaps we can aspire to something a little better.
It’s a new year. It’s a new day. The year of our Lord 2010. God’s mercies are new today. And this is, for us, an opportunity to begin afresh, to consider where we are in life and to face the challenges of life and of faith with a renewed vigour and passion.
But if we’re serious about being renewed, where do we begin? Is there somewhere where God wants us to start? And if there is, how in the world do we find it?
There’s an old story about a professor who was assigned to teach an introductory class about time management for 1st year university students.
Without saying a word, he walked into the classroom and set a one-gallon, wide mouthed glass jar on the table in front of him.
Then he produced about a dozen tennis-ball-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, inside the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”
“Really?” he said. Then he reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel into the jar and shook it, causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.
Then he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was starting to catch on. “Probably not,” one of them said.
“Good!” he replied. Then he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it filled all the spaces between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted.
Again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour in the water until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked back at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”
One eager student raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit something more into it!”
“No,” the teacher shouted, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is this: if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”
Have you ever picked up your Bible because you knew you ought to read it but then just put back down in frustration because you didn’t know where to start?
Well, if you’ve ever wondered what was most important to God, you’re not alone. What mattered most to God was a topic commonly debated among Rabbis in Jesus’ day.
One of the teachers of the law came and heard Jesus arguing with the Sadducees.
Seeing that Jesus gave good answers to their questions, he asked Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" Mark 12:29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: ’Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these."
God’s Laws are very similar to Russian nesting dolls. Have you ever seen those? They’re these wooden dolls that open up and there’s another doll inside.
You open that one up and there’s another one. Each doll contains another until you get down to the smallest one.
Well, God’s Laws are like that. You start with the entire Bible, open it up, and inside you find the 613 Torah laws.
When you dig into those, you can narrow it down to the 10 Commandments—God’s basic laws of right and wrong. And nestled snuggly inside the 10 Commandments are two very simple principles: Love God. Love people.
That’s what matters most to God! These are the Greatest Commands. These are the big rocks!
As simple are those two commands may be, they are THE place to start when we’re thinking about a new day, a new year and a renewed commitment to living for God.
Sometimes we get the idea that a fresh commitment to God means first that I determine to get my behaviours in line. That I confront my bad habits; that I try to remove from my life everything that’s getting in the way of my walk with God.