Scripture: Isaiah 43:9-12, 18-19
Message: How Will Things Be Different in 2010?
UMC of Swartz Creek-Sunday, Jan., 3 2010
John D. Landis, Pastor
At this time of year many television shows, magazine articles and internet blogs talk about what we have seen come to pass and what we might expect for the future. Lots of talk will be given on resolutions which we hope will make the New Year better for our lives. We all want things to be better, but there is something in us that is resistant to new. We are tired of hearing people talk about New Years resolutions, when nothing ever comes of it. I read that lawmakers in Washington crafted 3.5 million words of legislation, 8,696 bills were introduced and there were 378 presidential speeches. That is a lot of words. But will there be action, will there be change? If 2010 is going to be anything it needs to be a year of action and transformation.
We do need changes in our personal life, in our community life and as a nation, but it is often very difficult. People are often resistant to change and to something that is new. But think about it without change or things being renewed we could not survive. Things are changing right under our noses and we do not even know it. Consider something as routine as the weather. Air masses move in, temperatures go up and down, and shifting precipitation changes our environment daily. We are told that without the air being renewed in the Amazon and other Rain Forests we could not live. Everything in the universe needs renewing and replenishing.
Our bodies need it. We need fresh food in our bodies every day to stay vital and healthy. You cannot live on the food of weeks ago. Your blood system is creating new cells every minute, and the blood is being cleansed in the kidney. We need to breathe moment by moment with a new supply of air. Doctors tell us that our bodies completely renew themselves every 7 years. You have a whole new body, well at least a set of cells.
Our God is a creative, renewing God not only in the planet, and in our physical bodies, but also in us spiritually. We need to get in on the creative things God has for us. Some Christians are afraid of new things. And God does not want us to give up cherished truths,, valuable traditions or stable structures, but God is seeking to put new life into you and I. If we want to see things become more of what they should be we need to connect with God.
God is About the Business of Renewing All Things.
In the Scripture that we read in Isaiah God says I am about to do a new thing. The bible also says God is forever making things new. God’s creative activity was revealed to us when He made the heaven and the earth in the beginning. Genesis 1,2 He created billions of creatures that were brand new on the planet. And in them He put the proper DNA that would allow pro-creation to go on with trillions of new creatures since that time. Think of all the new animals, insects, plants and people that come on the scene everyday. God can use that same creative power to bring new life into you and me.
Scripture says in II Corinthians 5:17 That if anyone is in Christ they are a new creature, or new creation…the old has passed away and the new has come. God wants to transform us from a life that easily gets bogged down with bad attitudes, fears, unhealthy habits, and self-centeredness to persons who are positive, courageous, and unselfish. Just as He makes the universe new everyday, He can transform you and I. For me one of the greatest illustrations of the new life is the butterfly. The butterfly exists as a pupae or Chrysalis in its cocoon. While in there it dies to its old form and is transformed into this amazing new creature with wings that can fly.
Our new life in Christ can be as radical as the change that a butterfly undergoes. When we invite Jesus Christ into our lives to be our Savior and Lord we become a new person. Don’t you want to be a new person in 2010. I want to look at some ways that God wants to make us new. Now most of the time in messages we talk about things related to the heart and mind, but I believe God also wants to create in us new health and well-being in our body too.
Most folks do not know that the bible actually talks about being in good health. John writes in his third epistle, verse 2, Beloved I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. Jesus healed people because he genuinely cared about our health and well-being. People also feel a need for this. I read the top 12 resolutions published by the United States Government. It included weight loss, getting fit, stopping smoking and drinking less.
Probably not a one of us here would not like to be healthier in the New Year. I believe God wants to help us have better health in the New Year, to be new or renewed in our bodies. Television, magazine and internet ads promise a New You. But how many people do you know with those perfectly sculpted bodies, not too many? They must all be in California. I am not sure God wants us to have perfectly sculpted bodies, but He does want us to be rested, full of energy, and living healthy. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. So what does God have for you? There is no better time then now to decide. You already gained 10 pounds, you feel sluggish, and you wonder where how high your cholesterol has gotten.
My wife and I made a commitment to one another that we are going to walk everyday. One of the ways that we can help become what we should be is getting support from others. It would love to see someone start a healthy eating class, with a focus on spiritual growth. I am thinking that we need another walking group. We have this wonderful gym. I would love to see a group like that have a spiritual focus too. There is material out there.
The founder of the Methodist and Wesleyan movement John Wesley, said that walking was God’s gift for our health and well-being. He was an incredible visionary. He said that there ought to be 2-3 hours of exercise a day. Now he was not talking about going to the gym but doing physical things including walking. Wesley said those who sit at a desk all day, should learn to stand while reading. People in our age are developing machines that let you exercise while you are at your desk.
Wesley also noticed that people ate far too much. He recommended that we limit ourselves to only what we need. He said that great amounts of food before we go to bed was bad. Most of us know that. He was a man before his time. We need to ask God for strength to eat a more reasonable amount of food. Proverbs says that the glutton, the overeater should put a knife to their throat. That is pretty serious. Overeating is a sin, and I am the first to admit I do it. But God wants to make us new. And it is not just how much you eat, but what you eat. I never felt healthier then this summer when I ate vegetables out of my garden. Eat healthy saints, then you can indulge now and then.
Not only does God want our bodies to be a pure vessel for the Holy Spirit, but He wants our minds to be renewed, pure and transformed. I never cease to be amazed at the junk that is in our magazines and television. Everything is about celebrities and their naughty lifestyle. People soak it up like sponge. I said to my wife this past week, we should be reading magazines that give us pure thoughts, and noble motives. Philippians 4:8 says whatsoever things are true, honorable, right, pure, whatsoever things are lovely, and commendable, God think on these things.
I would venture to say that most of what people soak up in entertainment magazines and t.v. shows is not true, not honorable, not right, not pure, not truly lovely or commendable. Would you agree with that? So why should we be surprised that our youth, young adults and families are going crazy. The bible says, do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2. God wants to give us a new mind. There was a movie out entitled a Beautiful Mind. I want a beautiful mind, but it will not happen, if we just go with the flow. We have to be intentional. We have to make a decision. We have to watch the right things, read the right things, and go the right places.
This was brought home to me this week as we visited my dad’s home. This family that had bought my father’s home invited our family to come and see what they had done and to get acquainted. Now I think that is fairly unusual, but this family was grateful for what they had received. They had been praying for months for the right home, and they wanted us to know how grateful they were. They also wanted us to see the renovations they had made. I loved my dads house, but the beautiful new wood floors and painted walls took your breath away. I said my father would be blessed to see how well you are taking care of this home. It was made completely new.
But as we talked, the real beauty of this home came out. We discovered that they were a very, very dedicated Christian family. Their children were enrolled in Veritas University. Veritas means truth in Latin. They began to tell us how they were gaining a Christian life world view. Not only did they read the bible, but also the great classic books, and they were learning Latin and Greek. They were using the book of Common prayer for family devotions, and the daughter played beautiful Christians songs that they sang as a family. I thought…I am in another time and place….never ever have I seen such intentionality in the Christians faith.
Jesus Christ wants to give us a new mind in 2010. Set some goals for your life. Read the bible through in a year…Set a goal to have at least 10 minutes a day of uninterrupted prayer. Sing praises to God. Sing as a family. Put beautiful music on in the house. Plant beautiful thoughts in other people’s minds too. Find a plaque that says what you believe. Some people have a sign that says as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. Ask God what He wants for your life. Write it down. Start keeping a journal. The bible says that if anyone is in Christ they are a new creation. II Corinthians 5:17. Get a new body, get a new mind, and get a new walk with God.
The bible talks about the body, the soul and the Spirit. Paul writes may God keep your spirit, soul, and body sound. It is my wish for this entire congregation that you are blessed in every part of your life in 2010. Along with the body and the soul, I pray that God will also refresh your spirit. One of the greatest ways that God refreshes our Spirits is through others. We need to build newness into our relationships.
In the family it is so easy to neglect in depth sharing of love and kindness. We become so familiar with one another’s faults that we fail to see the very good qualities. The apostle Paul said that love is patient and love is kind. We need to become people who have greater depth of love. What could you do this year to show greater love to your husband or wife, or children or friends? One of the biggest challenges is to refrain from negative words.
I was reading a book that said, try taking a day and do not say anything negative at all to your wife or husband. I tried it one day and man was it hard, no I am just kidding. Actually it made me realize how easy it is to focus on the negative and not on the positive. Why not pick a day out of the week where you decide not to say anything negative to someone or about someone else. It may just give you a whole new perspective. You may realize how wonderful some friend or family member is again. It could even transform your life.
Included in our resolutions needs to be the idea of growing in character. Ephesians 4 says that the purpose of our lives is to grow up into maturity in Jesus Christ. We need to grow not only in love, but in joy, in peace, in patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. God wants you to be a different person this year then you were last year. Oh he does not want to change the inner depths of your personality and all the good qualities that are you, but He wants to change those things that hinder your relationship with Him and others.
Let me give you a few more suggestions for developing your spirit. Learn by experience what it means to pray without ceasing. I Thess. 5:17. Memorize the fruits of the Spirit I talked about and put them into practice daily. Gal. 5:22, 23. Realize that Satan is working against you every day, resist him at every turn. James 4:7 Think of people you have a bad attitude towards. Forgive them. Vow to fill your mind with good things. Stop reading what everyone else reads and sees. Be creative. Fill your mind only with good and beautiful things. Phil: 4:6-8 And then know that God wants you and I to pass on this New Life on to everyone that we can reach.
At the top of the list of our New Year’s resolution should be to reach others for Jesus Christ so that they can become new in Him. There is nothing more wonderful then to be part of this process of helping others find a New Life in Jesus Christ. I want to be reminded of that daily. I see new life coming into people’s lives here. I am blessed by that, and I am encouraged when someone tells me what God had done in their life. One of the things I enjoy so much at Christmas is reconnecting with old family and friends and hearing what God is doing in their life. Often people reach out like no other time of year.
An amazing thing happened to me just a few weeks ago. This young lady wrote me a note on Face-Book. She said are you the J. D. Landis who served the Peck United Methodist church over 20 years ago? She said if you are that person I want to tell you how much I appreciated the ministry to children called the Joy Club. It really helped me get a good start in my faith. She also said, and I want you to know that we have bought the old parsonage where you lived, and we are enjoying it.
I was amazed. First that someone would reach out after 20 some years had gone to tell me they were still living out the faith in Jesus Christ. Secondly, I was elated that they were going to take care of the Old Parsonage which at the last few drive bys, looked like it needed help. They were renewing their life in Jesus Christ and they were going to renew the house where pastors lived for well over half a century.
God wants to renew this old house we live in, and He also wants us to share new life with others that they might know the Savior. I talked to a man two nights ago. I had not seen him for a few months. I said how is it going? He told me about the business, about the family, about friends, and then he said…J.D. I am enjoying the grandchildren. He said there is nothing more wonderful in all the world. Some of you are just waiting with baited breath for grandkids.
Think about God. He is waiting eagerly for sons and daughters to be born in the faith. And if you are a Son of God a daughter of the Lord then you have the privilege of bringing someone to God. Did you ever stop and think that those you love and pray into the kingdom are like giving God grandkids. What is a family without children being born, without grandchildren coming along? Is it not our joy and our future. God wants renew us but He also wants to bring see new life in those who have yet to find it. Set a goal this year that you will bring just one person to come and know Him. Is that too much…just one person? If everyone did that the church would double in size. There would be great joy in heaven for Jesus says the angels rejoice when just one believes. What will be new for you in 2010?