Revelations Not Resolutions

We are approaching the start of a new year….

It seems to me that time is moving more quickly than it ever has before

Or, that I am simply moving a little slower than I use to

Maybe it is that time sure does fly when you are having fun…

But then life is not always a lot of fun

As believers, when we look at the start of a new year we should have inside of us a renewed sense of hope

God is in control and we are in God’s hands

The darkness may become gross darkness but then the light of the church will grow brighter and stronger 

Isaiah 60:2 “For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.”

The start of a new year – a clean slate ready to give us a fresh start

A number of believers take this time to look at ourselves and make commitments or resolutions that we believe will help us to have and live a better life – New Year’s resolutions

We want to get rid of the old and put on the new don’t we – make some changes

I think that New year’s resolutions are much like the moulting process that the lobster goes through once a year after they are adults

In order to grow, lobsters have to rid themselves of their old, hard, protective shell and grow a new, larger one. 

This process of shedding an old shell is called moulting. They do this about twenty-five times in the first five years of life and once a year after they become adults.

It is an ugly, messy process.

Under the pressure, the old, hard, protective shell cracks. Then the lobster lies on its side, flexes its muscles, and pulls itself from the cracked shell. 

For a short time—between the leaving of the old shell and the hardening of a new one—the lobster is naked, feeling very vulnerable to the elements.

In a sense we are all lobsters. … Our growth into Christ’s likeness requires we get rid of our old, hard, protective shells and allow God to take us to a new place in Him

And, New Year’s is as good a time as any to follow the example of the adult lobster—to moult at least once a year, leaving our old, hard, protective selves behind and allowing ourselves a new sense of vulnerability and room to grow.

Remembering, however, that this growth – like the lobster – starts on the inside and not the outside and can leave us feeling somewhat naked and vulnerable 

REMEMBER:

The change that allows growth starts with fresh revelation of who God is and who He wants you to be

It does not start with making ‘resolutions’ – but with revelation

New insights from the heart of God, the Father

Ephesians 1:16-17 “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him…”

Let’s look at some Scripture 

The Apostle Paul writing to the church in Ephesus gives us some direction on how Christians should live their lives 

And, as we follow these guidelines for living not only will our physical lives flourish but our spiritual lives will also be brought into a closer relationship with God.

Ephesians 5:15-18 NLT “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,

The first thing we see here is that we are to live wisely.

To live with wisdom – Godly wisdom and not human wisdom or worldly wisdom

Remembering that we can find wisdom in strange places….

I’m sure you have heard the phrase “out of the mouths of babes”. Listen to the wisdom of some of these children.

Patrick, age 10, said, “Never trust a dog to watch your food.”

Michael, 14, said, “When your dad is mad and asks you, “Do I look stupid?” don’t answer him.”

Michael, wise man that he was also said, “Never tell your mom her diet’s not working.”

Naomi, 15 said, “If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse.”

Lauren, age 9 said, “Felt markers are not good to use as lipstick.”

Joel, 10 years old, said, “Don’t pick on your sister when she’s holding a baseball bat.” 

Eileen, age 8 said, “Never try to baptize a cat.”

Paul writes that we are to live wisely

The definition of wisdom:

The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting

Paul says to live by what you know as truth

We live in a world that tells us that there is no truth – absolute truths

That everything is up to the individual and that what is true for one person is not necessarily true for another

This is called relativism which leads to “tolerance”

Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration

“I am glad that you believe that and it is working for you,  but…”

There is no absolute truth.

Paul writes that fools believe that there is no truth

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise”

True wisdom is knowing that there are absolute truths in our world.

Jesus says; I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

His Words are absolute truth…

If we are to live wisely in this New Year, the first thing that we must do is realize that there is truth and that the ultimate truth is that Jesus Christ, God himself, came to earth to become the payment for our sin

If we are to live wisely in 2019 we need to grab hold of and apply the wisdom that is in God’s Word  – the Bible

Proverbs 9:10 Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.”

This fear is not the trembling paralyzing feeling that we think of when we picture fear. [Although we should fear God’s judgment].

This fear that the writer is talking about is an awe and respect for who God is.

We can’t have knowledge and therefore wisdom until we recognize the most fundamental truth about our world.

This world is God’s creation. Only fools say there is no God and that we are here just by chance.

Paul writes: “…be careful how you live, don’t live like fools. Live like those who are wise

Live in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and follow His teachings.

If we do that, we will surely live wisely this year.

We should make the most of every opportunity because life is very, very short

A man went to his doctor to find out why he had been having such severe headaches. The doctor ran some tests and after a few hours called the man into his office. “I have terrible news,” he told the patient. “Your condition is terminal.” “Oh, no!? the man cried. “How long do I have?” “Ten …” began the doctor. “Ten what?” the patient interrupted. “Days? Months? Years?” “Nine,” continued the doctor, “eight, seven, six …”

And, we only have so many God given opportunities…

The Psalmist wrote, Psalm 39:4 “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life”

Psalm 90:10 “The length of our days is 70 years – or 80, if we have the strength…they quickly pass, and we fly away”

Our time is short; we must live with some urgency and take advantage of the opportunities that God gives us

Paul is a perfect example of making the most of his opportunities.

He preached at the drop of a hat. If anybody would listen, he would share the Gospel with them.

He planted churches. Everywhere he went, when he left there was a new church started for the continuation of the faith and the expansion of the Kingdom

He was constantly concerned for the welfare of others.

Just like Paul we should live in a way that takes advantage of all the God-given opportunities that come our way each day

We should be expecting God to give us opportunities to help others and to share

We should be looking for every opportunity to grow and be better witnesses for Him

Paul says to make the most of our opportunities.

We are given only so many years here to serve God and we should seize every opportunity

Paul writes that we are to seize the opportunities or walk through the doors that God wants us to walk through

As we follow the Saviour Jesus Christ in 2019 we should determine to make the most of every opportunity.

Not only are we to live wisely and live making the most of opportunities we are also to live in God’s will

Ephesians 5:17 “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”

“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (ESV)

Understand what God wants you to do … live in God’s will

No matter where I am, when I say to people “live in God’s will for your life” people are thinking (saying):

“That’s easy for you to say but it is very hard to do! I mean, how do you know God’s will?”

I never answer that question – My answer to the question is a question… “Are you listening?”

Back when the telegraph was the fastest method of long-distance communication, a young man applied for a job as a Morse Code operator. 

Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the office address that was listed. 

When he arrived, he entered a large, busy office filled with noise and clatter, including the sound of the telegraph in the background. 

A sign on the receptionist’s counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office.

The young man filled out his form and sat down with the seven other applicants in the waiting area. 

After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. 

Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. They muttered among themselves that they hadn’t heard any summons yet. They assumed that the young man who went into the office made a mistake and would be disqualified.

Within a few minutes, however, the employer escorted the young man out of the office and said to the other applicants, “Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has just been filled.”

The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and one spoke up saying, “Wait a minute, I don’t understand. He was the last to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That’s not fair!”

The employer said, “I’m sorry, but all the time you’ve been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse Code: ‘If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.’ 

None of you heard it or understood it. 

This young man did. The job is his.”

We live in a world that is full of busyness and clatter, like that office. 

People are distracted and unable to hear the still, small voice of God as he speaks to them. 

What about you? 

Are you tuned in to God’s voice? 

Do you hear Him when he speaks to you? 

Are you listening?

We have to tune out all the clatter around us and listen to God.

God will speak to us through the study of his handbook for Christians. The Bible.

God will speak to us through sermons.

God will speak to us through other books

God will speak to us through music

God will speak to us through the Holy Spirit that resides in all who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord of their life.

God will speak to us when we are quiet and alone with Him and are listening for Him.

When we tune out all the clutter and clatter of life and truly listen for Him to speak.

A Native American and his friend were in downtown New York City, walking near Times Square in Manhattan. 

It was during the noon lunch hour and the streets were filled with people. Cars were honking their horns, taxicabs were squealing around corners, sirens were wailing, and the sounds of the city were almost deafening.

Suddenly, the Native American said, “I hear a cricket.”

His friend said, “What? You must be crazy. You couldn’t possibly hear a cricket in all of this noise!”

“No, I’m sure of it,” the Native American said. “I heard a cricket.”

“That’s crazy,” said the friend.

The Native American listened carefully for a moment, and then walked across the street to a big cement planter where some shrubs were growing. He looked into the bushes, beneath the branches, and sure enough, he located a small cricket. His friend was utterly amazed. 

“That’s incredible,” said his friend. “You must have super-human ears!”

“No,” said the Native American. “My ears are no different from yours. It all depends on what you’re listening for.”

“But that can’t be!” said the friend. “I could never hear a cricket in this noise.”

“Yes, it’s true,” came the reply. “It depends on what you’re listening for. Here, let me show you.”

He reached into his pocket, pulled out a few coins, and discreetly dropped them on the sidewalk. And then, with the noise of the crowded street still blaring in their ears, they noticed every head within twenty feet turn and look to see if the money that tinkled on the pavement was theirs.

“See what I mean?” asked the Native American. “It all depends on what you’re listening for.”

If you’ve tuned in to God, it doesn’t matter what’s going on around you, you can hear Him speak.

In this new year, live wisely, live making the most of every opportunity God gives you, and live in God’s will listening to His voice.

But, Paul goes on – one more thing is mentioned…

Ephesians 5:18 “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit”

NLT “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit”

If we are to live as Jesus wants us to live:

Living with Godly wisdom (revelation)

Making the most of every God-given opportunity (revelation)

Knowing and following God’s will for your life (revelation)

We will need to be “filled with the Spirit”

This “filled” means being totally controlled by the Spirit

When you are “filled with wine” you are under the influence of and controlled by the alcohol

It controls what you think and feel; your words and your actions

So, Paul says that IF we want to receive revelations…

Living with Godly wisdom (revelation)

Making the most of every God-given opportunity (revelation)

Knowing and following God’s will for your life (revelation)

Then we need to be filled with the Spirit – yielded to, submitted to, controlled by

Then 2019 will truly be “the year of the Lord” in your personal life and in this church!