Summary: How Jesus began his ministry provides valuable lessons on how we begin new lives/futures. These lessons offer more than how to begin a new year. They show us the path to a new you!

Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister

First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO

Life Is Like A Date Book

Matthew 3:13-4:11, 17

Introduction: Life is like a date book. I have in my hands two different date books. This one is old and used. Its pages are marked. The corners are bent. More than a few pages have coffee stains. The cover is cracked and worn. This 2006 Day-Timer shows the wear and tear of lots of hard use. This one, on the other hand, is fresh and new. Only a page or two has been touched. It holds no coffee stains—yet. The cover is still stiff and clean. This 2007 Day-Timer remains unused. It won’t remain that way for long.

These books are more than date books. They are an illustration of life. An old year has passed. We have filled with all kinds of activities and events. Some were important. Others just happened. The old year contains memories of good times and bad. It is marked with scars and stains of life. A new year lies before us as fresh and clean as this unused date book. It waits to record the events of life. Someday it too will be stained and bent. For now, it is new, unmarked, and overflowing with potential.

There’s something special about a new calendar or date book, just like there is something special about a new year. In a sense, the New Year is artificial. It is just like any other day. The sun will rise and set. The weather will change. It is just another day. But emotionally, a new year is different. It is not just another day. It is a new day, a new beginning.

An unknown poet catches the spirit of this time of the year in the poem--New Leaf

He came to my desk, with a quivering lip

The lesson was done

Have you a new leaf for me, teacher.

I have spoiled this one

I took his leaf, all soiled and blotted

And gave him a new one, all unspotted.

Then into his stirred heart I smiled

“Do better now my child.”

I went to the throne with a trembling heart

The year was done.

Have you a new year for me, Father

I have spoiled this one.

He took my year, all soiled and blotted

And gave me a new one, all unspotted

And into my tired heart He smiled,

“Do better now, my child.”

That’s why we make New Year’s resolutions. We want our new year to be more than just another day. We want it to be a new beginning. Most of us start the New Year with great expectations and new intentions. Many of us will plan to lose weight, get more exercise, or many get control of our finances.

A woman walked into her bathroom at home. As she did, she saw her husband weighing himself on the bathroom scales, sucking in his stomach. The woman thought to herself, "He thinks that he will weigh less by sucking in his stomach." The woman sarcastically said to her husband, "That’s not going to help." Her husband said, "Sure it will. It’s the only way I can see the numbers."

I hope that some of us will make some new spiritual commitments that change our inner as well as our outer life. That’s why a lot of you have committed to our reading through the New Testament effort this year. Others have made commitments to pray more and seek daily opportunities to speak a good word for the Lord. Those are the efforts that can make this a new year!

Those who began the One Year Bible effort read the opening chapters of Matthew this week. We read of the beginning of Jesus’ life and ministry. Each of the four gospels presents a slightly different portrait of Jesus, yet they all contain the same story. Matthew emphasizes Jesus’ the Jewish Messiah and fulfiller of the Old Testament promises. Mark, writing to Roman readers, tells of the might and power of Jesus. Luke presents an historical review of Jesus’ life. He also highlights his encounters with the poor, the outcasts, and overlooked. For Luke, Jesus was first of all the “savior of the world.” John was the last apostle standing. He fills in some of the blanks left by the other three. He also clarifies the identity of Jesus and endeavors to counter some of the confusion and false notions about Jesus that were circulating toward the end of the first century. All four of the gospels begin at the same place with the same events.

How Jesus began his ministry provides valuable lessons on how we begin new lives/futures. These lessons offer more than how to begin a new year. They show us the path to a new you!

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