Summary: We want to make changes for the New Year. The best way is to be set apart from the lure of the world.
December 30, 2007
Subject: New Year’s Resolutions
Title: There’s Going to be a Change In Me
I have to be honest with you all about something. I love Christmas and what it is all about, but I grow weary by the time Christmas day is over. Like many of you, our Christmas is full of travel, family, gifts and fellowship. So what is there not to like? For many of us Christmas can also be a time of sadness. Loved ones have passed away and gone to their heavenly reward. The stress of strained family relationships seem to rise up and at times put everyone on edge. There are the family members who have moved away and cannot be with the ones they love. There is the stress of trying to buy the right gift for someone who already has everything they need. There’s the struggle to juggle your time so you can be in three different places over a twenty-four hour period. Add to that the stress of wondering if anyone is going to be a church for our Christmas program – will the snow ever stop? When it comes right down to it much of the stress caused by Christmas essentially comes from the worldly influences that have been introduced to the real meaning of Christmas. I love the blessed holiday, but I’m always glad when it is over.
On the other hand, I love New Years. No I’m not a big partygoer. It is a struggle for me to stay up till midnight. I’m a creature of habit and anything after 10:00 is late for me. But what I really like about New Year’s Day is the fact that it brings out something really good in people. Not talking about partying all night, but I’m talking about the sincere desires in people’s hearts to change their lives in the New Year. I’m talking about New Year’s resolutions. Nearly everyone I know will make some sort of resolution for 2008. Many Christians will determine to have a better spiritual life in the coming year. I’m going to read my Bible more, pray more, attend church more regularly etc. the fact is that a very small percentage of resolutions are ever kept. But I like New Year’s anyhow, simply because there is a desire there and where there is desire there is always hope.
I want to share with you today about how God wants you to become something special in this upcoming year. His desire for you is to come closer to Him, to walk with Him, and to be continually under His anointing in 2008. Are you ready to do that?
Turn your bibles to Galatians 2:20. Keep your finger there and then turn to 2 Corinthians 5:17. Going back to my original train of thought, the thing that makes Christmas difficult for me is the fact that the world has changed the meaning of Christmas. To them it’s all about presents and food and family gatherings. We know that the real Christmas is about Christ. The thing that also hinders most from becoming the man and woman of God that they desire to be in the New Year is the worldly influence that we have allowed to creep into our lives. Our quest for more of the world keeps us from receiving more of God.
Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
2 Corinthians 5:17, 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
I want to help you to see today that for you to be what God has intended you have to eliminate the worldly influences from your life.
I. CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST. I have been crucified with Christ… When you hear that what do you think of? What does it mean to you? Are you literally nailed to a cross with Christ? Let’s look at the Greek word that is translated “crucified with”. It is the word sustauroo, which is a compound word. The two words that it is derived from mean,first, “union; with or together, that is, by association, companionship, process, resemblance, possession, instrumentality, addition, etc.; beside, with. When used in compound words it has similar applications, including completeness. The second part of the word means to impale on the cross; figuratively to extinguish (subdue) passion or selfishness:—crucify. Now we know that Paul isn’t talking about being literally crucified with Christ – Paul wasn’t crucified; he was beheaded. But what he is talking about is the true meaning intended. Paul says that like Christ and with Christ I have extinguished or subdued my worldly passions and desires and have become complete in Him. Worldly passions and desires refer to the lust of the flesh. Lust is not a sexual problem only. Lust is a world problem. Lust is covetousness. I want stuff and I will do anything to get it – even if it means borrowing money beyond my means to repay. You see the problem is not with having possessions. The problem is with your heart. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” But Paul says he has been crucified with Christ. He is no longer concerned about having things. He knows that you have to have money to live in the world. That is why he worked as a tentmaker by day and preached by night. But he was never consumed by desire for earthly possessions. Unfortunately the church has allowed the lust for the world to enter into its theology and now we are inundated with feel good preachers who tell us that we can have everything the world has to offer and still be OK with God. Look at the words of John in 1 John chapter 2. 15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. John uses the Greek word “Kosmos” that is translated “world” and one old commentary says that Kosmos refers to the whole of the created universe viewed apart form God and extends to the organized resistance to the will of God. So when we speak about the lust of the world we speak of the desire to have the things that are contrary to the will of God. That comes from satan, the god of this world. So when Paul says he has been crucified with Christ, he is saying that he does not allow the things of this world to distract him from the life Jesus has made for him.