Summary: A sermon that looks at new beginnings and starting over. Really a new year message

New Year -

As we travelled around on holiday we saw these signs here and there = You are now entering Southland district - Lakes district and so on.

On the journey there came a point where we had left one district behind and had entered another.

January is the month when it is drawn to our attention that we are now entering a new era in our lives - 2001 is in the rear view mirror of our lives and 2002 has already begun and takes on more and more meaning as we journey through January into February.

As christians we might well learn from the attitude reflected in Philipians chapter 3 verse 13

13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Such a scripture may well draw us to want to make fresh resolutions and vows about the year ahead as we face up to the glorious gift of another year.

There are of course some fairly fickle vows made in january that actually have very little meaning I am reminded of a story: told by -


Have you heard about the man who moved into a retirement

community to spend the rest of his life there? It wasn’t long until he had

made a number of friends among the other residents. There was one lady

he was especially attracted to, & she was attracted to him, also. So they

spent a lot of time together. Finally one evening he proposed, asking her

to marry him.

The next morning he woke up remembering his proposal, but he couldn’t

remember her answer. So he went to her & said, "I’m really embarrassed.

I proposed to you last night but I can’t remember if you said `Yes’ or `No."’

"Oh, thank goodness!" she replied. "I remembered saying `Yes’ but I

couldn’t remember who asked me."

The point is some of the vows and promises we make can be shallow and have very little meaning.

But the beginning of a new year can be a profound opportunity to consider the direction our lives will take over the Next Year and also to look in the rear view mirror of our lives and to decide what things God would require us to leave behind in the year ahead.

The verse I would like to do some reflection around is found in the book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament.

7 Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. 8 See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers--to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--and to their descendants after them."

At this time frame in history the people of Israel were in a safe place - God had rescued them from a life of slavery and humiliation - he had rescued them by miraculous deliverance through the red sea and now they were parked as it were at the foot of the Holy Mountain -

But now God says break camp - move on - there is more.

What he has in mind for the Israelite people is to move in and take the land known as Israel to be a land set apart for God.

It was full of prosperous strong people but they were idol worshippers - they had abandoned God and so God had given their land over to the Israelite people.

His plan was for them to go virtually straight in and take the land - but as you know they rebelled and as a result of that rebellion they wandered in the desert for forty years.

Fear crippled them and an entire generation failed to live out their God given destiny.

At Horeb The Israelites had gained a certain position - and they faced an exciting and yet certain future.

There are three positions where the Israelites were in that we can identify that help us to consider where we are in the purposes of God as we face a new year.

The first position is that they had escaped from slavery into freedom -

GAL 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

GAL 4:1 What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

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