Summary: There is always work to be done in every Christian’s life. Things to put off, things to put on and things to put forth. The Bible shows us how.
New York City is a fascinating place. So much of what we are and so much of what we do, comes from the culture and media giant that is New York. Though it’s only seven hundred miles away, I’ve never been to the city. There were a couple occasions when we were on the way, or nearby, but for some reason or another, I never got there. That is to say, I haven’t gone there yet.
In New York there are many sights to see. Of course, the Statue of Liberty and Statten Island, where our ancestors set their first feet on American soil. There is the World Trade Center area, many of my friends have visited there and tell me that it’s a moving, sacred place now. There is Manhattan with all those tall buildings, Wall Street which is the financial center of our country. And even the clothes we wear, the styles and the various cuts of fashion come from a street called Madison Avenue.
We would go broke keeping up with the latest fashions. Some of us need to update from time to time, my ties are too wide, my lapels on my suits are as wide as boat sails.
As the New Year stretches before us, the year 2006, there is a moment of pause, a moment of reflection on the achievements and accomplishments of last year, and the goals and purpose for the next year.
The book of Colossians tells us in the third verse, to first put off certain things. Like worn clothing, we need to get on with life, and put off certain habits, practices and tendancies which all come under the caption of sin. Let’s go through the list, maybe there are things we need to throw out and put off to walk as God would have us walk.
Paul chronicles numerous things in verses five to nine that we should put off: uncleanness, coveting, and idolatry. He also speaks of anger, wrath, filty and course talk and lying. He says to "put off the old man with his deeds." Take an inventory of 2005. Examine your conscience as I examine mine. What thingw we did, what actions we took, what words we spoke, what things we said should be examined. Maybe we could make a resolution for the New Year to be more deliberate in our actions and more precise in the things we say. We need to ask God to help us to be patient, not to give into the anger and wrath of the world. There are many things we can put off in our lives. We had our clothing drive for the poor last month. I couldn’t believe how many things we’ve just got laying around, that we don’t wear anymore, don’t use any more and don’t need any more. I filled a large plastic bag with clothes that were just taking up space! The Bible tells the Christian to put off the old man, our old nature and way of doing things. He tells us to put off those things, and those old deeds and works. We can only do it with a close communication with God, and a desire to get our spiritual house in order.
The next thing we see in these verses is that we are to put on new clothes. The new man. I got a new shirt and tried it on. For some reason it didn’t fit too well around the back. I took it off and found a pin that was still in it from packaging. Did you ever notice that the more expensive the shirt, the more pins they put in those things? As we look to 2006, let’s examine the new clothes and make sure all the pins are out of them. Those little things that pick and pull us down.
Paul says to put on the new man which is "renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." Our new image for 2006 is to conform ourselves to be more like Christ. Verse twelve to fourteen tells us how. He says to put on mercy and kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering in verse twelve and then in verse thirteen he says: forbearing, forgiving. Verse fourteen: love or charity which is a perfect bond with Christ and others. Yes, it’s a long list, yes it’s hard to change. But God will help us, and will renew us day by day. One hint that may help. Take this week, and review this chapter. Chew on each verse and phrase. Look at yourself and see what new clothes God wants you to wear as you face the world in 2006.
Well, he shows us what to put on, he shows us what to put off, but he finally shows us what to put forth. In verses fifteen to seventeen, Paul speaks corporately. He is speaking to individuals in the church, the body of Christ. Put forth effort in 2006 to live peacefully in the church. Let’s not disturb the peace that God has created here. Let the peace of God rule your hearts." Live together as one body. May the peace of God bring new people to the church. May the body of Christ here function as it ought. We thankfully look forward to the next year. That God would send us workers to build His kingdom. 2006, may it be a time of learning, teaching, encouraging and joy. New challenges for our choir, new voices, new songs, new specials. We thank Dorothy and Margaret for years and years of faithful service to our church. All the choir members, sing from sincere hearts.