Summary: An updated/revised version of the message given a few years back.
New Year, New Opportunities (2.0)
This is going to be a little bit different message than what you’ve gotten used to over the past few years from me.
I’ve been sick the last three days, and wasn’t able to get into the office and work on the message as I’d like.
So rather than try to just throw something together about the Scripture passage I had planned for us to look at today, I decided to go back to the sermon vault and see if there was anything back there that I could use to encourage you today.
You know how when you go look at a used car, they’re no longer “used,” they’re “pre-owned.”
And when a show is presented a second or third time, it’s never a “re-run” anymore, it’s an “encore presentation.”
Well today, you’re getting an “encore presentation" of a message I gave back in January of 2001.
And actually it’s not just a “re-giving” of the sermon. I’ve updated and revised it a bit, so if you don’t mind, I’d like to call this message, “New Year, New Opportunities, 2.0.”
I’ve also cut out quite a bit, and maybe down the road I’ll give “New Year, New Opportunities, 2.1.”
I realize that it’s not the first week in January, but I think that you’ll find what I have to share with you timely just the same.
One of the things I am most grateful to God for is the fact that His mercies are new every morning.
How many people in here made mistakes, sinned, or otherwise fell short of perfection yesterday?
But you know what? Today’s a new day. And God’s mercies toward you are new today.
And it’s because of that I want to encourage you to take some actions that I believe will go a long way to making this year one of the best you’ve ever had.
We’re going to be looking at a few different passages of Scripture, but the basis for my remarks today is found in Ephesians 5:15-17 and I’d ask that you read this aloud with me, please.
Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Can anyone tell me the days are not evil? Can anyone tell me there is no need to live wisely?
Now my point is not that we need to panic about the days being evil.
The emphasis I want to make that every day, because of God’s daily renewing mercies, we have new opportunities to make a difference in our relationship with God and in the lives of those around us.
We need to make the most of every opportunity, and I want to focus on three areas in particular today:
The first is…
* A deeper walk with God.
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (NLT)
It’s said a lot that the most important relationship you can have is your relationship with God through Christ.
We believe that here. We believe that if you want to have healthy relationships on earth, you need to have a healthy relationship with God.
That’s more than just coming to Christ for salvation. It’s true that at that moment you become a child of God and are part of the family.
But everyone knows that just being part of a family doesn’t mean everybody’s close all the time, right?
Anybody have brothers and sisters? And how many times a week did you fight while you were growing up?
You hated each other’s guts at times didn’t you? Please tell me it just wasn’t my brother and me…
Healthy relationships take work.
But they also require something else, and this is something I’m finding out more and more in my personal relationships:
It’s the most essential element in a relationship: TIME.
In the case of what we’re talking about here, the strengthening of your relationship with God, it means this:
Time in the Word of God. Time in prayer. Time in worship and fellowship with other believers in Christ. TIME is the all-important factor.
Taking time to be intentional about getting to know the Father better as your protector and provider, who loves you beyond measure and who forgives all your sins.
Taking time to be intentional about getting to know Jesus better as the One who laid down His life for you so those sins could be forgiven, so you could be made a child of God, so you could have access to all God has for you, and who gave you His Words and example for you to live up to.