Summary: Don’t make resolutions...Make this New Year a time of revolution!
1. Illustration of man applying for a job
• A man once applied for a very high paying job. Later the interviewer called him to tell him that he had not gotten the job.
• The man who had applied for the job protested. "But I’ve got 20 years experience."
• The interviewer told him, "We checked your references. According to them, you’ve got one years experience repeated 20 times."
2. So many times, don’t we fall into that pattern as Christians? Year after year, nothing much changes spiritually. Every year is just a repeat of the year before. I don’t know what might or might not have happened to you in 2006. I don’t know if you won tremendous spiritual victories, or if you suffered tremendous spiritual defeats. I do know this: I want 2007 to be the greatest year ever for you spiritually. If that’s to be, we have to get 2007 started off on exactly the right foot.
3. Does the Bible give any instruction on starting a New Year right? As a matter of fact it does! God gave Israel some very clear instructions on some things they were to do at the start of every New Year’s. Each of these things they were to do at the start of the New Year was designed to have a spiritual impact on them.
4. As we look at these instructions, we’re getting to see at least three clear principles that we need to follow if we’re to have a great 2008.
5. What are these three principles?
I. Remember When You Became a Believer
1. Exodus 12:2. The first set of instructions God gave Israel concerned the Passover. At the beginning of the New Year, Israel was always to observe the Passover.
2. You remember the story behind the Passover. Israel was in bondage in Egypt. Pharaoh wouldn’t let them go, so God sent a series of plagues. Finally, God said, "I am going to send one last plague. The death angel is coming, and he will take the first born of every household." There was only one way to escape the death angel. An innocent lamb was slaughtered and his blood applied to the doorpost of each household. When the death Angel saw the blood he would, "pass over" them.
3. Please note: They weren’t saved by looking at the lamb, admiring the lamb, or loving the lamb. They were only saved if the lamb was slain, and the blood applied to the doorpost of the house. Each time they observe the Passover, Israel was remembering their deliverance from death by the shed blood of this innocent sacrifice.
4. Principle: There is a lesson here for us as well. This lamb pictures Jesus Christ. In first Corinthians 5:7, the Bible says "for even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." Just as Israel started every New Year by remembering their deliverance, we should start our new year by remembering our deliverance.
5. Illus. of Billy Sunday
• Great evangelist of another time.
• Was saved on a street-corner. Was a professional baseball player. Heard the gospel, left the locker room, went out and stood on street corner to argue with God.
• Every year, would go back to that same street corner and hold a little private worship service!
• "Reminded him where he came from, refilled him spiritually, and refocused him on things that are really important!"
5. See 1st Corinthians 11:23-25. This is so important for us as Christians, that Christ built it into our observance of the Lord’s supper.
6. As we start this New Year take a few moments to remember what it was like to be lost. Take a few moments to remember your encounter with Jesus Christ. Take a few moments to remember how I felt when that sin debt rolled off your shoulders. What a great way to start the New Year off right.
7. Remember when you became a believer.
II. Unleavened Bread: Dig out the Sin That Has Taken Root
1. See Exodus 12:15-20. The second important date on the Israelite calendar was the observance of the feast of unleavened bread. From the 15th-21st of the month, the Jews ate only unleavened bread, and they very carefully cleansed all the yeast out of their homes. The purpose of this feast was to remind them that when they left Egypt, they were in such a hurry that they could not wait for their bread to rise.
2. There is a spiritual reminder for us in this feast of unleavened bread. In many places in the Bible, leaven is used as a picture of sin. For example Paul tells us, "to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness." In the Gospels, the leaven of Herod represented an attitude of pride and worldliness, and the leaven the Sadducees was unbelief.