Summary: This is the New Year’s eve homily delivered at the prayer service. Theme: Make the best use of your time in the new year.
Making the Most of the New Year
Rev. Sean Lester
New Year’s Eve prayer service
Text: Ephesians 5:15-21
A. As our passage says, the days are evil.
1. The point is proven as the night wears on. Hundreds of people, our neighbors, have already begun drinking beer and wine in preparation for champaign at midnight. The music may thunder, the laughter may roar, but the joy is synthetic. In the morning, the world will still be there, threatening, enticing, and demanding of their soul.
2. The community in which we live faces the wrath of its own choices as plant after plant threatens to close. Quietly, the leaders of industry and of government wag their heads in despair as they recount the vicious cycle that they face in trying to improve a community. Companies want good employees. Good employees are diligent to learn and work. The people are bad students, and in many cases, poor workers. So, the companies leave for places where people are poor and yearning for work. We must confront our own evils.
3. And then, there is the distressing fact that many, many people have grown up in our communities without hearing an accurate presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ even once. They have head people, often their own parents, speak ill of churches and Christians, but they have never heard of Jesus Christ. Even the church people have never told them.
B. There isn’t time for unwise living.
1. Because, as Jesus said, "when you see the signs, know that I am even at the door."
2. Because, as I am noticing, time is getting away from us. As we get older, our days fly by. Our time is getting short.
Proposition: So, the Holy Spirit commands us to make the most of our time.
Transition: There are three commands in this passage to which we would do well to heed in 2004.
I. Understand the Will of the Lord.
A. The passage says, "Do not be foolish". A fool is someone who does not believe in God, or acts as if God does not exist or does not care. A fool is the ultimate deceived person, one who feels safe because of what they convince themselves about God, but one day will stand before an austere and unhappy God.
B. Instead, know the will of God and do the will of God in 2004.
1. The will of God is that you would not indulge in things that gratify the flesh. That you would not kill time doing what is fun but does not accomplish the building up of the kingdom of God.
Illustration: Chuck Swindoll tells a story about the 19th century agnostic Thomas Huxley who was rushing to catch a horse drawn taxi. He got in and told the driver "I’m in a hurry, drive fast!" The taxi driver took off at a furious pace while Huxley sat back and closed his eyes. After a while he opened his eyes and realized that he hadn’t told the driver where to go. They were heading in the wrong direction. He called out to the driver, "do you know where you are going?" To which the driver replied, "No, but I am driving very fast."
2. God’s will is not for you to be busy, but to reserve your best effort for the preaching of righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, and for teaching people to obey his commands.
C. What is the year of your life going to yield in the Kingdom of God? The watch ticks away the seconds of life, each second appearing only for the slimmest of moments and then disappearing never to be repeated again. I urge you to work hard for Jesus Christ, then take a moment to rest. But be careful that you don’t live for rest then get up for a moment of effort for Jesus.
II. Be Filled With the Spirit.
A. The people of the world feel compelled to drink and revel tonight. They feel they need to in order to experience a moment of happiness. Of course, they are not happy. They feel happiness because they disable their minds so that their ability to correctly judge their lives. They depend on chemical joy.
B. But that is not the case with the Spirit-filled. Spirit-filled is a choice to depend upon God’s Word to command our lives. Spirit-filled is a result of good decisions that yield the satisfaction of knowing that life is safely in God’s hands. And, because it is, the Spirit-filled believer sings.
Illustration: Typically, the people in the world will listen to very loud and lively music. The sounds of the drums and the beat of the instruments will vibrate through their bodies and make them feel alive. But the spirit-filled produce music because they are alive. They sing from their souls songs of thanksgiving and joy. The Spirit-filled don’t need music to make them feel alive, they make music because they are alive.