A NEW YEAR, A NEW WALK, A NEW YOU!

Fireworks display with several different colored fireworks exploding in the sky.

She pointed to herself, and remarked, “There’s a SKINNY in here somewhere, and I’m going to find her!” I had to laugh at my friend. It was this morning, January 1, 2017, and a day in which we all traditionally start our New Year’s resolutions! I have learned the hard way not to stress myself–I’m not going to keep them more than 2 days! It’s much easier to take one of my favorite verses from Scripture out of context and relax in the words, “Bodily exercise profits little!” (1 Tim. 4:8–like I said, taken out of context.) But I still felt slightly victorious, as I had decided , back before Thanksgiving, to get up in the mornings in time to walk, at least three days per week–and if you knew me well, you would know I totally despise anything remotely connected to exercise. The fact that I am now going on 8 weeks is nothing short of a miracle. No, it is not a habit–even after three times a week for eight weeks: every stinking step, every drive to the place where I walk, is DISCIPLINE. Let’s make sure we understand there’s a big difference.

There are probably more decisions to lose weight, to be nice, to stop spending so much money, to exercise, or…. fill in the blank… on this day than any other day of the year. Did you make a resolution? Are you going to keep it?

The only one I’m faithful about (let’s wait awhile before we call the walking “faithful”) is my desire to read my Bible each year, or, depending on what I’m focused on, perhaps I may spread it out for two years. I love to study it with a goal in mind: this past two years I read it with the intention to find out why the apostles ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. I was amazed, as I went back through the OT, at how few times there are actual prayers in the Scriptures. Nehemiah prayed often, Solomon prayed often, but David took the prize. If ever you want to know how to pray, read the Psalms. His prayers are agonizing, beautiful, full of repentance, fruit, … they cover almost all topics. By having a goal, it keeps my mind much more focused as I read. It is not intended as a “pat me on the back,” but just a suggestion that there are ways to read it that will keep you concentrating on what you read. Do you often realize your mind has wandered? Then go back and re-read the paragraph. Once you do it often enough, you will keep your concentration better.

In today’s sermon, Jonathan Falwell quoted some amazing facts: facts that should make us sick to our stomachs, since most of us are dealing with a schedule so full that we don’t have “time” to do much for Christ except check off our to-do list on Sunday that we have attended church. As you listen to the sermon, prepare yourself for the statistics that say the average person checks their Smart Phone 150 times per day (someone in my family–not in this house–does that much in 2 hours, I kid you not!) Again, the average person watches tv approximately 3.6 hours per day. Does that make you gag? Garbage in, garbage out, right? Facebook racks up about 1 1/4 hours per day. We are now at approximately seven hours. When do people sleep, eat, work? Does God get the leftovers?

How would you feel if you were God, and you got the time that you give Him? Would you wonder at the depth of your love? Would you question whether He really is first in your life? Let us be sure we hunger and thirst after righteous, and seek Him—He will fulfill our needs if we put Him first, and this day is a great time to start off for the year!

If you haven’t heard the sermon preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church for Sunday, January 1, 2017, click on the link http://www.trbc.org/sermons and then click on the play button. Be sure you have your notebook, something hot to drink, and if someone can join you, make it a good discussion time! Enjoy the song service if you have time, but most of all, seek the Lord with your whole heart, and lean on Him for strength this year!

Open:

A new year! As you think of the coming months, what’s on your calendar? You probably know some of the challenges you are going to face—others may take you by surprise. How prepared do you feel to face the next twelve months?

When we consider the beginning of a new year, we generally think of things in our own life or family that we would like to change. We decide January 1 is a good day to start, so we make a “resolution” to begin a new way of eating, exercising, habits, or whatever it is we feel needs to be improved. As a Christian, this is a great time to make a commitment to read the Scripture every day and see how our lives reflect the standards Jesus has set for us. Do we “hunger and thirst” after righteousness? Do we desire a closer walk with Him more than we desire anything else? Do we want to “seek first the Kingdom of God”? Today is a good day to start, giving yourself a full year to draw nearer to Him, and you will find the “new walk” will produce a “new you”!

Focal Passages: Ephesians 4:17-32

Discuss:

A New Walk

  1. Read verses 17-19. Can you think of examples showing how this reflects the world we live in today?
  2. What do you consider your number one problem? Did you say “busyness”? Why is that a problem? Is boredom a problem?
  3. Be honest: when is your devotional life happening? If you are involved with your television, electronics, or listening to music for over 5 hours each day, do you discipline yourself to find time for God—hopefully first?
  4. Read verse 24. What does God expect of you? If you call yourself a Christian, do you intentionally seek a relationship with Him, or do you just hope it will happen at some point during the day?

Here are a list of commitments to make for this new year:

  1. Commit to make room in your schedule and your life for God.
  2. Commit to make time for your family—apart from movies, tv, or video games.
  3. Commit to make time for others, to serve and help them, perhaps even disciple them.

  A New You

  1. If you spend quality time dieting or exercising this new year, what would you expect to happen? How is that analogous to exercising your spirit with God’s word and serving Him?
  2. Who should benefit from your new focus if you truly make Him first in your life?
  3. In verses 21-32, what are some things that you should see go out of your life? What should replace them?

Here are a list of commitments for A New You:                                                               a. A commitment to live right (and get rid of the bad!)                                                b. A commitment to live better (renew your thoughts and attitudes)                        c. A commitment to live with eternity in mind (and share Him with the world)

 

Close:

As I said in the opening, my friend said “I’m starting a diet..there’s still a ‘skinny’ inside here!” In like manner, according to 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” There should be a “new creation” inside of us then! That should be our standard for this coming year: we call ourselves Christians, so therefore, a new creation is inside of us. Do you have things left over from the “old” person you were that is still taking up residence, but needs to be moved out? All things in your life should have become new when you were saved. Did it? When you are going about your daily business, can the world tell that you are a Christian by your actions? If not, something is desperately needing to change. Today is the first day of the new year—let it be a beginning that will find you, on December 31, 2017, in such a close relationship with Jesus Christ that everyone will know, just from being around you, that He is in residence in your life! Pray for those whom you love who need to hear that He loves them, and pray that He will open a door for you to witness to them in the coming days. Let this be the year that you evangelize your world!

Memory Verse: Ephesians 4:32: “Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”

Focal Passages: Ephesians 4:17-32.

 

 

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