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(Fade in) As the camera draws back a rising sun is bright across the mountains as a new day begins-the camera begins to pan down and coming into view the main character becomes part of the majestic scenery until the scenery begins to fade and the smile in the introduction of the character catches the camera-(Fade to credits).
I love movies-there is an excitement to movies. Maybe it is one you heard about and have waiting excitedly for it to finally get here. Maybe it is one that you just flipped on Netflix because the title caught your attention. As I watch a movie’s beginning I have hopes that it will be as good as expected or worry that it may be a disappointment and wish I had not wasted those two hours. Movies tell stories and we love stories that give us an excitement of what is about to happen.
January brings much of the same excitement. There is something about the end of a year to begin a new year. In reality, there is no great difference in the night between December 31 and January 1, except we have expectations for 2022. We may make New Years’ Resolutions, but the reality there is something about something NEW!
This year we hope that it will be better than 2020 and 2021. But what do you want to be different in 2022 that you have not experienced in 2021? Some of us may enter the year with no expectations of 2022 being any different than any previous years-but if I may, that is not Biblical.
The entire Bible talks about things becoming new. When you think about it –God makes all things new. The Bible, in the NIV, has 174 verses that use the term “new”. Revelation 21:5, says
“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “write, for these words are true and faithful.” (NIV)
1 Corinthians 5:17, it says
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (NIV)
The Bible assures us that God can make things new. This year I want you to think about the past but focus on how God can change the past and make the future, and just as importantly the present greater than ever before. This does not mean that any hurts, disappointments won’t still try and steal your joy, however it does mean that God is big enough to take those things and help you find that joy and excitement for the future and strength in the present to make 2022 the year that you begin anew.
We don’t like to say, “I am making a New Year’s Resolution” because we know we probably won’t complete it. However I want you to focus on how God can make you live greater for the Kingdom. For many of us, it means we need to be more patient, gracious, forgiving, less doubtful towards the future and disciplined to be all the God has created you to be. That means being more faithful in prayer. Prayer is a difficult “habit” for many of us. We fall into the rut and pray the same prayers with no real effort and that makes our prayer life-boring or even nonexistent. If you struggle to pray, begin to write God a letter. This often helps me to focus and also gives me a chance to look back and see how my prayer life has changed.
We may need to focus more on reading our Bible. The bulletin and website have a weekly reading schedule, 2022 commit to reading God’s word. Learn more this year about God and the Bible. Remember to attend the many Bible studies we have for various groups. Get back into church. Covid has broken many of our “good” habits and church attendance is one of them. During Covid we got comfortable not attending or doing things we know we should be doing. Commit to becoming regular attenders and to be encouraged and held accountable to God’s Word.
To make 2022 the year it needs to be, remember God makes all things new again so let’s get STARTED!
I want to keep this short and sweet. First, thank you for supporting our student ministry through out the year. You’re giving allows us to have pizza every single week, allows us to have great quality bible studies and helps students that cannot afford to go on outings and youth camp. We have some great students here at FBC Buffalo.
The second thing I have for this month and this whole year is, a challenge. I challenge you to pray for our students. Pray for them to grow spiritually so much so that when they walk onto their campus, people see Jesus in them.
The third and last thing I have for this month is, come hang out and help out. What I mean is we would love to have some volunteers on Wednesday nights, helping with games, maybe teaching. You have tons of life experience that needs to be shared with our students.
That’s all I have for you this month. Thank you for allowing me to serve you all here, God bless and Happy New Year.
If you’ve been following our Bible reading plan this year, then you will be nearing the end of the New Testament with readings in the book of Revelation. At first glance, kind of a strange choice for the Christmas season. But when you read Revelation with the looming presence of another new year just ahead, it takes on unique significance.
New years always come with a bit of reflection, a touch of evaluation and hopefully, some impetus for correction, in ourselves, our lives, our relationships. Chapters two and three of Revelation contain elements of reflection, evaluation and correction for the seven churches of the New Testament era. I think this a good time to apply some of that advice to our own church and our roles in the church as growing Christians.
So, like the church at Ephesus, have we “forsaken our first love?” Do we still run after Jesus like we did when we were first saved? Are we excited to share and to serve? Or have we lost the glow and become complacent, even lazy? How can we rekindle that exciting love for our Savior?
Are we rich but don’t act like it, like the church at Smyrna. Are we bowing to false teachings, like the church at Pergamum? Have we come to tolerate sin, like the church at Thyatira?
Are we spiritually dead, like the church at Sardis, needing to “wake up” and finish the good work God began in us? Are we like the church at Philadelphia, with an open door standing before us that we need to step through? Or are we living like the church at Laodicea, thinking we are wealthy and in need of nothing, when we are really lukewarm, “wretched, poor, pitiful and naked?”
If you recognize yourself in any of these descriptions as you sit in the pew, week after week, then don’t lose hope. All is not lost. God rebukes and disciplines those he loves! (3:19) What should we do? “Be earnest and repent.” But don’t ignore the knocking…DO SOMETHING. When we open the door to God’s reflection and evaluation, he comes in, sits down at the table with us and offers the loving correction to get us back on the path of his plan.