Summary: In Jesus we are made new, and we are made on purpose for a purpose - to be ones through whom God's message of love and reconciliation is delivered. People look through our lives to see if they can see Him.

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How do you feel about the coming year? Maybe you’re looking ahead at 2012 with some stress as another year full of things that you have to do whether you want to or not.

The cartoon character Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes once said, “God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I’m so far behind I will never die.” Can you relate? I think there are better assurances of eternal life.

Today is also, potentially, a new start. I say potentially because it depends on a couple things. No change happens in our lives without careful thought, without some self-critical pondering, without some real sense of: “I’m here, but I want to get to there”.

So that’s important if we want to move in new directions. Looking at ourselves in that way can help to make the ground of our lives receptive to something new, new seed that God wishes to plant in us in order to bear new fruit.

But most importantly, there’s the question of the will.

A boy told his father, "Dad, if three frogs were sitting on a limb that hung over a pool, and one frog decided to jump off into the pool, how many frogs would be left on the limb?" The dad replied, "Two."

"No," the son replied. "There’s three frogs and one decides to jump, how many are left?" The dad said, "Oh, I get it, if one decides to jump, the others would too. So there are none left."

The boy said, "No dad, the answer is three. The frog only DECIDED to jump."

Does that sound familiar? Maybe something like last year’s resolution? You see, the will is what enables us or disables us from experiencing change. I say experiencing change rather than ‘making change’ for a reason.

I honestly believe that God is the change agent, God is the person who bridges the gap between where we are and where we want to be.

Experiencing genuine change still involves human will very much though…though you still might not like where I’m going with this. Genuine change for the best, real transformation to becoming the absolute best we can be depends on our willingness to surrender our lives – our hopes, our dreams, our futures and our wills to God.

Let’s look at the Scripture that was read earlier to us.

Live for God

14 For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

You know there’s a reason that at this church you hear a lot about the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, about His death and resurrection. There’s a reason we don’t avoid it or soften it or try to twist it.

There’s a reason that other subjects just don’t come up as much or just don’t have the same weight or importance. That reason is a simple one. Everything… everything depends on the truth, the reality of the gospel.

And the most important part of the gospel is that Jesus laid down His life, traded His life for you and for me.

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