Summary: A New Year gives us the opportunity to make new starts in our commitment to God.
A. George C. Scott in A Christmas Carol
1. Based on Charles Dicken’s work.
2. Story of Ebenezer Scrooge, despicable old man with no joy.
3. Disturbed by the joy and waste he sees at the Christmas season.
4. Hounded by singing carolers and harassed by those wanting a generous donation for the poor.
5. Employee, Bob Cratchet, wants the day off with pay.
6. One night his dead partner appears and warns him of his ways.
7. Because of his actions during life, he was now wandering with chains and Scrooge would too if he did not change.
8. Scrooge would be visited by three ghosts: Christmas past, present and future.
9. Reminded of his stinginess in the past and how that caused him to lose the love of his life.
10. Shown his stinginess in the present.
11. In the future, the son (Tiny Tim) of the man who worked for him would lose his life (couldn’t afford medical care because of the little Scrooge paid him).
12. Scrooge was shown his own grave.
13. Scrooge awoke-frightened, trembling and afraid.
14. Made a transformation: freely gave money to others, sent a big turkey to Bob Cratchet, promised medical aid for Tim, gave Bob Cratchet a raise and told him to order more coal, ate a meal with his despised nephew, laughed and sung Christmas songs.
15. No one could believe his transformation.
16. “I will begin again, and the future I build will be something that will last.”
B. Children of Israel find themselves at a crossroads.
1. Just finished 40 years of wilderness wandering.
2. Moses was about to die and a new leader would take over.
3. Had watched their parents die in the wilderness because of their disobedience.
4. Had to decide whether or not they would obey and enter the land.
C. Many times in life we reach crossroads (New Year is one).
1. Like driving up to a traffic signal that is red.
2. Time of reflection over the past year and over our lives.
3. Look at our actions and words.
4. Consider our spiritual growth.
5. Thank God for the blessings.
6. Time for decision making as a result of the reflection.
7. Time for commitments.
COMMIT TO LOVE GOD
A. Shema, “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
B. Jesus said the same thing
1. Pharisee tests him concerning the greatest commandment.
2. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”
C. We must love Christ with all our resources.
1. Though not saved by our actions, they do speak for themselves.
2. He must be the most important person in our life (think how you treat the important people in your life).
3. Spend time with them, talk with them, give to them, be honest with them, be committed to them, etc.
4. Love him with your entire being and tell him and others so.
D. Do you love God with all that you are?
1. Your actions need to demonstrate that.
2. We have raised a generation of nominal Christians who don’t know what they believe, who mix Christian doctrine with other religious beliefs, and who are not really that surrendered to Christ.
3. Spend time in prayer, reading God’s Word (this is our emphasis for the year), fellowshipping with his people and spreading his love.
4. We need a quality love relationship (what do you do to make other relationships quality relationships).
E. Hymn by Rhea F. Miller
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold,
I’d rather have Jesus than have riches untold,
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.
I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause,
I’d rather be faithful to his dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than world-wide fame,
I’d rather be true to His holy name.
He’s fairer than lilies of fairest bloom,
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs,
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.
COMMIT TO LOVE YOURSELF
A. Can we really love others and God if we don’t love ourselves?
1. Why should I love me? Made in the image of God, loved by God, created by God, special to God, sent his Son to die for your sins, making a place in heaven for you.
2. If God feels that way about you, why don’t you feel that way about you? Bathe in his grace.
3. Not talking about conceit but a healthy self-love because God loves us.