Summary: A sermon for the New Year.
"All Things New"
I searched and searched the internet through hundreds of predictions for the coming New Year and here is a top-ten list of what is predicted to happen in the year 2015:
# 10. Language Differences will Disappear.
* according to what I found, through "some kind of universal translating machine" this development will lead to the end of separate nations.
#9. The Dead will Resurrect
* The reason for this is that there will be no more room in hell.
# 8. The World Economy will Collapse.
#7. There will be a Major Eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
#6. People will live to be Over 200 years old.
* according to this prediction, due to advances in medicine an 80 year-old person will soon look just like a 50 year-old person.
#5. Radiation will Scorch our World.
#4. There will be a Major Earthquake in the Western United States.
#3. Humans will learn to Talk to Pets and Farm Animals
* This will lead to an upsurge in vegetarianism: "The hog will become a brother to man."
#2. All Taxes will be Abolished in the Western World
#1. Would-Be Parents will need Licenses.
* The days when just anyone can have a baby will be a thing of the past.
Here we are only 3 days away from a New Year.
What are your hopes and dreams for 2015?
Have you thought about New Year's Resolutions?
Do you plan to quit smoking...
...go on diet...
...start an exercise regimen?
What do you hope for your family in the New Year?
What do you want for yourself?
What difficulties are you dealing with that you pray will be resolved?
What do you think will happen in our world?
And what about our little church?
What ministries will take place?
Who will we be privileged to serve?
Will existing ministries grow or fade away?
What new people will show up in our pews?
Will we make an impact for Christ in our community and in our world?
As individuals, will we grow in our relationship with God?
Will we read our Bibles?
Will we participate more in the extremely important work God is doing through this church?
Will we come to Bible study, Sunday school, worship?
Will we start a new ministry, a new outreach?
Will lives be changed?
Will souls be saved?
In a year's time, will we be closer to God than we are right now?
There is no way of knowing the answers to many if not most of these questions.
But one thing is sure--our calling.
We are called by God, to give our lives fully to Jesus Christ.
We are called by God to love God and other people with all our hearts, minds and strength.
And we are called by God to "run the race that is laid out in front of us...
...to throw off...
...to get rid of...
...the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus...
...so that [we] won't be discouraged and [we] won't give up."
God has great plans for us this year.
This church is being used in mighty ways to effect changes in our surrounding community.
This is what we prayed would happen; our prayers are being answered.
And they will continue to be answered so long as we stay the course, continue to "run the race that is laid out in front of us."
One thing, though, I am pretty confident of, is that we will still have plenty of problems when 2015 comes to an end.
That is, unless, Jesus returns this year.
Another thing I am confident of is this: there will come a day when all problems will be a thing of the past.
In our Scripture Lesson for this morning from Revelation, John on the Island of Patmos, is given a vision from God.
He sees a new heaven and a new earth.
He sees the "New Jerusalem" coming down out of heaven from God, ready as a bride.
He hears a voice.
It declares, "Look! God's dwelling is here with humankind.
He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples.
God himself will be with them as their God."
When all is said and done we will not be left, simply with a new heaven, but a new heaven and a new earth.
They will be joined together completely and forever.
And notice the word "dwell" in verse 3...
...as in "God will dwell with them..."
This is what the Gospel of John says about Jesus: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us..."
What God did in Jesus Christ, coming to an unknowing world, an unwelcoming world--He will do on a cosmic scale!!!
God is coming to live in our midst forever.