Summary: A new years sermon encouraging reflection and intentionality in our development. not really one passage of Scripture, but many examples.
Who are you becoming?
Amidst the roar of preparations to celebrate the new year, century, and millennium, have you had the chance to stop and reflect on who you are becoming?
The celebrations are finished. The last of the crowds at Time Square have gone home and now the street cleaners are sweeping out and hauling away the garbage. The empty Champagne bottles are in the box to go back to the bottle depot. The army surplus store owners are jetting off to the Bahamas to spend their Y2K windfall. And, except for a few minor glitches, life is returning to normal. School goes back in this week, and most of us will return to work or our regular routine. For some there is a large feeling of let down. For others the feeling is “back to business as usual”. Others have a fear of the arrival of the January credit card bill. The uncertainty many of us felt, the anticipation, even the excitement is slowly being replaced by the realization that life is going to pick up right where it left off.
For many people, January is typically the most difficult month of the year, and this year it may just be worse. January has the highest occurrence of depression, the shortest and coldest days, and the let down that happens after something that we have looked forward to for so long has come and gone. This morning I want to offer you some hope. This morning I want to remind you that Jesus is still in control, and that He is not finished with us yet.
This morning I want to take a few short moments as we worship together and remember Jesus’ death and resurrection to reflect on who we are becoming. Because as we begin a new century, the God we serve has something amazing to offer us. Something exciting!
He offers us a second chance. He gives us another opportunity. He comes to you this morning with open arms, waiting and willing to welcome you into His family. God is a God of second chances. That is the message of the entire Bible – we have another opportunity to get our relationship with God straightened out and on track.
Adam and Eve got a second chance. Even though God had placed them in a place of perfection, they turned away from God. And yet he welcomed them back! He offered them a second chance to know Him, and already set in motion a plan to redeem all of humanity through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ.
Noah got a second chance for all of humanity. The Scriptures tell us in Genesis 6:6-8 that “The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” Did you catch the “But”? God let Noah start over.
Moses led God’s people out of Egypt and to the promised land. And even though they didn’t go right in, God gave them a second chance 40 years later.
And they kept getting second chances! The book of Judges records how the Jews obeyed God and prospered, started to rely on the blessings instead of the source and turned away from Him, which caused the blessings to cease and calamity to ensue, and then God sent them a leader or judge who led them back into relationship with God and God blessed them again. Even though they rejected God, He gave them a second chance.
What about King David? He loved God and served Him faithfully and passionately, but his passions and desires got the best of him and he fell into adultery and murder. And STILL, when he humbled himself and repented before God, God welcomed Him back.
Nineva? an evil city, wretched in every way – repented when Jonah brought the message of impending judgement and God forgave them.
Those are a few examples from the Old Testament – what about the New Testament?
Peter – first claims “Lord I’ll die with you” and then denies even knowing Jesus let alone loving Him, and not once but three times – and Jesus restored Him after He rose from the dead.
The man born blind received his sight. The demon possessed man who ran naked among the tombs was set free and returned to his family in his right mind. The Roman soldier’s daughter was healed and restored to him. The woman caught in adultery heard Jesus say “I do not condemn you – go and sin no more.” Even as he hung dying on the cross, Jesus turned to one of the robbers being crucified next to Him and said “Today you will be with me in paradise”. They all got a second chance.