Happy New year Readers:
I am so glad that God has brought us though another year and into a new one. I can tell you that I am excited about 2013 just because its’ something fresh. Hopefully, you all feel the same way. In some small way, however, I wish the year didn’t end the way it did. That’s a topic for another post, though.
I was blessed to be able to speak at our church’s Watch Night service. Just when you think folks would rather be out celebrating in other ways, our church had a great turnout. I was especially pleased to see so many youth there. That makes me feel pretty good considering that I try to gear my sermons to them. It was brought to my attention that they, sometimes, feel left out on Sundays because they feel that the sermons go “over their heads”. Well I made it a conscious effort to ensure that they are spoken to just like us grown-ups. So, with that in mind, here is my sermon from Watch Night 2012…
As the last few hours of 2012 fast approaches, we tend to reflect on things that we have either accomplished or things that we regret. That being said, we as humans and, more importantly as Christians, we tend to always want to also fast forward to things we have not accomplished as well as things that we don’t want to regret in the upcoming year. I can tell you from my own journey that, yes, I have made some accomplishments in my life and yes, even I, have done some things that I deeply regret. While these things, whatever they are; good or bad, happy or sad, full of joy or full or sorrow, these things all happened for a reason. The reasons they happened, however, are really not necessarily for us to know as much as they are for us to learn. See, the main point is the fact that they happened and there is nothing that we can do or say to change that. When we look at the 9th chapter of Luke’s Gospel we see Jesus commissioning the twelve Disciples to go out to the cities to cast out devils and heal all manner of diseases but, there were stipulations for the journey. These are the stipulations that He gave them in verses 3-5:
3 And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.
4 And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart.
5 And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.
In other words, when he sent them out to do the will of God, they had to take nothing for the journey; only the things that they had right then and there. They couldn’t take more than what they needed because it would be more of a burden to them on the journey. When we take more things than what we need when we are starting out on a new beginning, you are already putting yourself in a bad situation because, the more you take means the heavier the load. The things you have to hold means there will not be room for things that you will pick up along the way. To put it differently, when you enter into 2013, whatever you had to deal with in 2012; good bad or indifferent, needs to stay exactly where it is…in 2012.
If you want to renew a relationship with someone, whatever happened that made it go bad in 2012, leave it there.
If your need to get that GPA where it needs to be, whatever you DIDN’T do in 2012, leave it there.
If you want to get yourself together for a new year, take all of the stuff that you did in 2012 and LEAVE IT THERE!!!
Once we have realized that we have to leave whatever it is behind, we have to remind ourselves, don’t look back. There is a reason for this. See, when we are trying to move forward, we can’t look back at where we came from. Why? Because if we’re constantly looking back, not only will we not see the things that will trip us up but, we will also not see the blessing that are in store for us. When we look further down in chapter 9 we see that there several people that are willing to follow Jesus but, are not willing to stop looking back:
57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
The first man told Jesus that he would go anywhere they Jesus went, to which Jesus replied that that all of the animals have places to live but He doesn’t. At that point, the man thought about this and went on about his business. He wasn’t willing to stop looking back because at least he had a house to live in, even though his house may not have been a home. The next man asked Jesus to allow him to bury his father. He wasn’t willing to stop looking back because he wanted to mourn his father’s death even though he may have waited too late to show his father how much he loved him. The last man wanted to follow Jesus but, he wasn’t willing to stop looking back because he wanted to say goodbye to his family even though, his family wasn’t willing to accept the fact that he was on a path that, they, themselves couldn’t not follow him on because Jesus didn’t call his family, he called that man. In all of these instances, Jesus asked each man to follow Him. When Jesus is ready to speak to you, He will speak to you directly, and does not need permission from your family, or your mortgage company, so stop seeking acceptance from someone or something to see if you’re allowed to follow the only One who can save everyone and owns everything. When you’re going into 2013, leave what you did in 2012 and DON’T LOOK BACK!!!
When you are going into 2013, leave all the junk behind, don’t look back, and always keep your eyes on the road. I can remember on many occasions, when I was first learning to drive, I used to always like to see what was in my rearview mirror. I used to enjoy seeing all the miles that I was piling up as I was going to my destination. I would even, sometimes, look at the side view mirror and see if anyone was coming up to the side of me that may have been trying to mass me on the road. While all of this is part of the driving experience, there was one thing that we can never ever forget. Eventually you will have to turn your head to see what is in front of you. The only thing that could be bad about that is the fact that you can and possibly will run into something if you aren’t careful. That’s why every slogan you see regarding defensive driving or every public service announcement you hear regarding texting and driving always reminds you to keep your eyes on the road. Well, the same holds true on life’s tedious journey. When you are walking with Jesus, when you are following what He has commanded you to do, there is no need to look back in your rearview mirror. Some of the things back there are not meant for you to see and everything back there is back there for a reason; because it’s not where you’re headed. It’s where you’ve been. If you want to stay where you’ve been, simply pull off to the side of the road, put it in park and sit there. Meanwhile, everything that was behind you is now in front of you and is not going to stop just because you are going someplace you’re never been before. Back in the day, when we were on a journey, we would almost always find a gas station that sold maps of whatever region you were in. Now, in today’s time, you still have maps but, now they are installed on a GPS with turn by turn navigation. “Turn right in 30 ft” and “Destination 10 miles ahead” are simply statements that the GPS is giving you to ensure that you know will get to your destination. It will give you a precise location and where you are and even tell you what street you’re on. However, there are those times when the road is blocked or under construction, or there is a new exit that was not there before. That’s when you have to re-calibrate your GPS in order to update your maps because if you don’t want to get lost. All of this information on your GPS was given to you straight from the satellite above. The roads we travel on have been in place for years and even though there have been some changes in the road, the road still takes you where you want to go. Well, I want to tell you about another road. This road was already planned from the beginning of time. This road was designed to get man to where he needed to be. We all know that road construction can take some time. In fact, it has been known to take a short time to develop but takes years to build. Well the road I’m talking about was is that road to Glory. Yes that road I’m speaking of was developed in the beginning of time but it some years to build. In fact, it took 33 years to build. Building started on this road in Isaiah 9:6:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
During the construction of the road, there had to be some new paths and sometimes there had to be some obstacles that needed to be removed. Whenever those obstacles need to be removed, there is always opposition from folks that like things just the way they are. They’ll even go to great lengths to hold secret meetings just to stop the construction. One Thursday night, the held a meeting to try to stop construction to the road Jesus was building. In fact, they whipped Jesus all night long during this meeting. Then they tried to further stop it quickly by condemning Him to die on the cross. Little did they realize that they were following along with the construction plans and didn’t even know it! But I’m so glad that the road was finished. Yeah the road was finished when Jesus said it would be. Once the road was built, all He had to say was, “It is finished”. The road was complete but it wasn’t ready to be travelled on. There needed to be a grand opening for this road. This was just no ordinary road. Everybody needed access to the road so there had to be something BIG to get everyone’s attention. That grand opening came when Jesus stepped on resurrection ground and said, “All power if given unto me, in heaven and in earth”. The road is ready all you have to do is get on it. But right before you get to that road, road you’ll see some signs along the way:
Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
3:16: – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Romans 10:9 – 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
At that point all you need to do is get on and you will get to your destination. Don’t worry about road blocks, pot holes, and other bumps in the road. Just recalibrate your maps when you send up prayers. He will send you an updated map with all the necessary changes so you won’t get lost. And remember, when you get passed the obstacles, keep your eyes forward and don’t look back.