HAPPY NEW YEAR!
How Was Last Year?
There are those times when life is really sweet; it’s really good to us. We get the job we want; our kids do well in school; we get the home we want, the car we want, and we’re able to pay all the bills. However, life isn’t always kind to us. Sometimes it knocks us down, and then it kicks us when we’re down. We lose that job; we find out our kids aren’t perfect; we’re afraid we’ll lose that house because we can’t pay those bills. As Lynn Anderson might tell us, “I beg your pardon, God never promised you a rose garden. Along with the sunshine, There’s gotta be a little rain sometimes.”
We live by faith, the understanding that God is at work in us, and through us, even when it appears He’s on vacation. This is not negativity; it’s the understanding that ultimately God will work out His will in every situation that we surrender to Him.
Most of us have something that many are missing in this world; we have a family that loves us. And, all of us have something even greater than that; we have a God Who loves us.
Hebrews 11:6) [MSG] It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.
QUESTION: What kind of faith is referred to here; or, to put in another way, what must we believe?
ANSWER: We need to believe that the God we serve genuinely cares about us.
QUESTION: Why is it so important that we have this kind of faith in God?
ANSWER: We can’t trust Him to meet our needs if we don’t believe that He cares for us.
Isaiah 42:16) [NIV] I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
QUESTION: What can God do for us in our most difficult moments?
ANSWER: When we can’t see His blessings, we’re blind to them, He can bring them to light before us; and He can smooth out the rough spots in our lives.
Isaiah 46:4) [NIV] Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
QUESTION: How long will God sustain us in this life?
ANSWER: This is important for many of us: He will sustain us; He will carry us; He will rescue us our entire lives.
We Need to Look for God
1. Look Back To Find God In Our Past.
Philippians 4:8) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things.
QUESTION: When it comes to the past, what should we be thinking about?
ANSWER: We should be thinking about what’s true. When we placed tough times in the past somehow God came through. Meditate on those things. He Who was faithful is still faithful.
Psalm 105:1) Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Psalm 140:13) Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; The upright shall dwell in Your presence.
QUESTION: What should we do when God delivers us?
ANSWER: We should proclaim His goodness through testimonies and thanksgiving.
2. Look Inward To Find God At Work Inside of Us.
Psalm 51:6‑8) Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
7) Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8) Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
QUESTION: What does God want most from us?
ANSWER: He wants us to be real on the inside. We aren’t perfect, but He wants us to be genuine.
QUESTION: What else does He want from us?
ANSWER: He wants us to trust in His cleansing power; and He wants us to receive His joy.
Psalm 139:23‑24) Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;
24) And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
QUESTION: What does God want us to ask of Him?
ANSWER: He wants us to ask Him to examine us, with the intent of revealing to us our shortcomings.
Acts 3:19) “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…”
QUESTION: What does God from us?
ANSWER: He wants us to change direction when we’re going the wrong way.
2 Corinthians 7:10) For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
QUESTION: What produces this repentance/this changing of direction?
ANSWER: We change direction when we understand that our current path is contrary to God’s will.
3. Look To Jesus To Find That He Is Stilling Working On Our Behalf.
Hebrews 12:1‑2) Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2) looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
QUESTION: What does “looking unto Jesus” imply?
ANSWER: We need to look to Him with the trust/faith that He started this good work, and He will finish it.
Psalm 28:7) The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.
QUESTION: What produced victory in your life in the past?
ANSWER: It was your faith in God that produced your past victories. Ask God to refresh your heart so that you trust Him once again. The result will be that you will once again rejoice in Him and sing to Him.
Hebrews 13:5‑6) Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
6) So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
QUESTION: When we look to Jesus what can we count on?
ANSWER: He will never leave us or forsake us! If we understand that fear loses its power over us.
4. Look To The World To Find God At Work In the Lives of the Lost.
John 4:35) “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”
Matthew 9:36‑38) But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.
37) Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
38) “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
QUESTION: What do we discover about God in these verses?
ANSWER: God always has, does currently, and always will care about the lost.
QUESTION: Why is this important to our discussion?
ANSWER: If God is at work in the unsaved then we will be close to Him when we reach out to the lost.
5. Look Forward To Find God Still At Work In Your Life.
Philippians 1:6) …being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
QUESTION: What does the Scripture tell us in this passage?
ANSWER: When it comes to your salvation God is in it for the duration. He didn’t start this thing so that He could give up later. He plans on seeing it through.
As you enter the new year remember that God was at work in your past; that He is currently working in you; that He is working on your behalf; that He is working with the unchurched to bring them to repentance, and wants your involvement in that; and that He will continue to work in your life throughout the remainder of it. When you remember these things it will give you the strength to face today’s testings, and tomorrow’s troubles.
Walk of Grace Chapel, Council Bluffs Church