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A New Year, but are you Ready?

posted 13 Jan 2012, 11:44 by Peter Booth   [ updated 29 Jan 2012, 08:50 ]
James 4:13-17 says:
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

I was sat in church the other day listening to a very good sermon for the new year, and there was a striking challenge set at the start by the preacher, and it was this: "Are you ready?" It may sound a bit strange at first. "Am I ready?" I ask. "Well of course I am, I just do everything the same as I did last year right? I think I'm going to do this or that, in this place and that place..." Well there is a danger that we simply roll into the next year not really taking account of our lives and making plans as we see fit apart from God, as James warns about above. 
As Christians in a sense the new year is like every other day, because every day God makes us new through Jesus Christ's blood as we lay at the foot of the cross all our sins and burdens. He heals us and restores us after we constantly and consistently mess up and dishonour God. So what is different about the new year, or rather what opportunities does it bring? 

Well there are two really good things things we can and should be doing: 
Firstly we can look back over 2011 - What can we give thanks and praise for? To what events can we testify of God being with us over the past year? What do we need to confess to God as being a consistent struggle over the last year? (Now celebrate the forgiveness and hope we find in our Lord Jesus Christ!)
Secondly we can look forward to 2012 - What do you want to be able to say at the end of the year? As Christians we all want to be able to say at the end of the year that we know Christ better than we we did at the start of the year. But what does that look like? Here are some questions we may want to ask ourselves: 
  1. When we make plans, are we making them in the presence of God? 
  2. Are we ready to serve the Lord in the small things as well as perhaps bigger things? How in fact can we do that in the church? What impact do I want to have for Christ in 2012?
  3. As we seek to become more like Christ, what specific areas of our lives can we focus on over the coming year, so that at the end of the year we will be able to look back and see how we've changed? For example, we might ask: How can I order my life so that it is more God honouring? What progress do I want to make in my prayer life? Are there certain things I want to become such as: more servant hearted; not as preoccupied with wealth, possessions, financial stability etc.
As we think about these questions looking ahead, we might also consider:
  • What ambitions you have for 2012
  • What confidence you have for 2012
  • What responsibilities you have in 2012
---"Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" - 2Peter 3:18---

Finally there were 3 really great suggestions that came up in our discussions in the ID group last night for the year ahead for other things you can do: 
  1. Keep a prayer diary - note down everything you're praying for and giving thanks for, so that at the end of the year you can look back at God's faithfulness in his answering of those prayers and give praise to him.
  2. Get an accountability partner or two with whom you can be 100% honest with about EVERYTHING in your life - all the good things as well as all the bad and sinful things. Meet together once a week to talk and then pray. This is great for challenging and encouraging one another to walk more closely with Christ. 
  3. Read the entire Bible in a year. You can buy guides to help with this, or download one from the resources page (there are a couple of different ones available). This is a great way to understand more of God's purposes and how the whole Bible fits together. It's a challenge, but a worthwhile and rewarding one!  

So are you ready for the year to come? 
We don't know what will come in the year 2012, but we know a God who does, and he will lead us through it each step at a time. Praise God for his faithfulness to us. 

[The full sermon can be found here for free download: http://www.emmanuel-church.org.uk/Download-document/228-Making-plans.html]
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