Summary: Jesus finished well and founded the faith we now follow.
Here we are on the last Sunday of 2009. How does it feel to finish the first decade of the twenty-first century? Answer these questions: How WELL did we finish the decade of 2000-2010 (1. as a nation, 2. as a church in this community, 3. as a Christian individually)? It has been nearly ten years since Y2K. We stand today on the cusp of a new decade, about to finish the decade that nationally has ushered in digital television, HDTV, legalized homosexual marriage, “sexting,” and the greatest economic decline since the Great Depression.
As a church in this community, this is a decade that by God’s grace has ushered in a lot of growth. God has blessed us with an increase from an average Sunday morning attendance of 85 to 150. In the early part of this decade we hired Joel Baxley for part time youth and family minister, and when Joel decided to give up that post near the end of this decade, we hired Kendall Harrison for full time youth and family minister. God has blessed us to add on to our physical building which was just finished December 2008. We have read through the entire Bible chronologically in 2007, then, by God’s grace, we helped organize an entire community reading of the Bible in 90 days in 2008. In this year of 2009 the Lord allowed us to help organize a community wide fund raising dinner for Bible in the schools which raised almost $400,000 through gifts, pledges and matching funds. And with God’s help, Howard High school will have Exavious Farley as a full time Bible teacher this next fall. Please pray that we will hire a good full time Bible teacher for our new Signal Mountain High School. Thank the Lord, in some ways we have finished well. On the other hand, in other ways we haven’t. We have some straying sheep from our membership that need to be reclaimed and restored. We have also entered a size where it is easier to let things slip between the cracks and our elders need God’s guidance more than ever as to how to manage our membership, lead us into greater service, and discipline us when we need it. Our very identity as the body of Christ requires that we be faithful to God’s word in these things.
And individually... how would you say that you finished the first decade of 2000? Let’s take a moment to pray about this together:
Heavenly Father, your word tells us to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. You tell us to test ourselves. Today, holy Father, at the end of this decade, we come before your throne asking you to search our hearts, O Lord, and test us and know our anxious thoughts. See if there be any wicked way within us, and lead us in the way everlasting. You know us full well, Father. You know each one of us completely. You know who among us trusts you and seeks you with holy fear and love. Father I pray that you will discipline us in your wisdom according to your word to make us more like Jesus Christ. Cleanse us from sin and lukewarmness. Tear down, overthrow and destroy anything in our lives that we would allow to stand between us and you. Abolish the idols of our hearts and minds. Then, by your grace, build and plant in us that which is most pleasing in your sight. Restore us in the likeness of your holy Son, Jesus. Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord our Strength and our redeemer! Forgive us for our sins and rescue us from our fleshly desires and temptations. Wash us in the cleansing blood of our Savior and Sacrifice, Jesus Christ. And Father, when the time of our departure comes... may we have lived to FINISH WELL. In Jesus most holy Name. Amen.
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, "I am thirsty."
29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth.
30 Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
Jesus said in John 17:4 I have glorified you on earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do.
Paul wrote in his last letter to Timothy 2 Tim. 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge will award to me on that day, and not to me only, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.