Summary: A message for the New Year
A TIME FOR EXAMINATION
INTRO: It is traditional in many churches to share the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper on the first Sunday of the year. Paul’s admonition to the Corinthian Christians is especially appropriate as one begins a new year: “Let a man examine himself.”
The new year is a trust from God. This year contains 366 days, 8,784 hours, 527,040 minutes, 31, 622,400 seconds. Every moment is important. We spend our time as certainly as we spend our money-even more so. We might save our money, but we can-not save our time. Ephesians 5:16 says: “Redeem the time,” or, spend your time well.
I. THE NEW YEAR IS A TIME FOR INVENTORY.
Many business places are in the process of taking inventory as a new year begins. It is a time to know what is in hand. For financial institutions, the new year is a time of accounting and auditing.
The psalmist said, “Search me, O God...” (Ps 139:23). As a spiritual inventory is made, accuracy and honesty are important. Romans 12:3 reminds us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. Like Little Jack Horner, we are tempted to think, “What a good boy am I.”
The psalmist dared to pray, “Cleanse thou me from secret faults” (Ps 19:12). His reference was probably not to faults kept secret from others, but to faults secret to himself. We easily deceive ourselves.
Measuring ourselves physically is done with a yardstick, a measuring tape, and scales. We can compare our physical size with last month, last year, or ten years ago.
Measuring ourselves spiritually is not so easy or so objective, but it is necessary. A new year is a good time for taking spiritual inventory of yourself.
II. THE NEW YEAR IS A TIME FOR ANALYSIS.
Taking inventory involves more than counting objects. Once an accurate inventory is made, an analysis is required as to its meaning. Past, present, and future needs are considered.
An analysis at the beginning of a new year requires looking realistically at the past, present, and future. Time becomes an important factor.
Football, basketball, soccer, and hockey are played for a specific number of minutes. Most sports count the time “down” to zero; that is, the
clock starts with the time allowed and always shows the time remaining.
Life might be clearer if we knew the time remaining in life rather than the time lived. Certainly, if we knew the time remaining, we would take more seriously the advice of Benjamin Franklin: “Loveth thou life? Then do not squander time, for it is the stuff of which life is made.”
Life must be lived with the reality that it’s like a vapor and tomorrow cannot be counted on (see James 4:14). Today is the day of opportunity.
III. THE NEW YEAR IS A TIME FOR NEW BEGINNINGS.
A new year seems fresh. It is a time of beginning over again. In that sense the new year is a time of encouragement. One is aided in “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead” (Phil 3:13 NASB).
New Year’s resolutions are often made lightly and made light of. Yet should not the new year be a time for new beginnings?
The Bible talks about God making all things new (Rev. 21:5); a new song (Ps 33:3); a new name (Isa 62:2); a new spirit (Ezek 11:19); a new heart (Ezek 18:31); a new covenant (Matt 26: 28); a new creation (Gal 6:15); and a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1).
IV. THE NEW YEAR IS A TIME FOR HOPE.
Hope expresses assurance about the present as well as about the future. On January 1, 1785, John Wesley said, “Whether this be the last year or no, may it be the best year of my life.”
We can begin the new year remembering the words of Moses to the children in Israel as they stood at the beginning of a new time in their history: “But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year” (Deut 11:11-12 NASB).
CONC: The time and details of the future are hidden and unknown to us, but the assurance of Jesus is that we do not need to be anxious for tomorrow (see Matt 6:34).
Edward Mote said it best in the hymn “The Solid Rock”: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”