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A Clean Slate

Romans 13:11-12

 

 

I’m calling a “do-over!”

 

We serve the God of the second chance.  Just ask Jonah.  Ask Samson.  Ask Peter.  Ask Adam and Eve! 

 

If you’ve been born again it’s because you were granted a second chance.  And just as God’s forgiveness never runs dry…70X7…we actually don’t run out of second chances.  Forget the new year…every new moment is a second chance…until we run out of time!

 

“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Hebrews 10:25:

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

 

But hold on Jerry, you’ve been bashing 2020 along with the world, and maybe you shouldn’t.  Because when life goes smoothly, you don’t grow so much.  The year of your life that goes the most smoothly will be the year that you grow the least.  2020 meant monumental growth for believers who kept the faith!

 

Thanks 2020:

  • For putting me on the fire, to purify.
  • For stretching me, so I can be broadened.
  • For giving me open doors to witness to people who are hurting/searching.
  • For giving us more family time.
  • For reminding us that God is our leader, not any political person.
  • For proving that when it comes to the church, the gates of hell will not prevail against it!
  • For teaching us to turn off the news and dwell in real truth.
  • For demonstrating that the world doesn’t give us our peace, and so, the world can’t take it away.
  • For being difficult.  Because difficulty strips away all false hopes we place in fleeting things and false foundations, so we can get back to finding our true identity in our creator and sustainer.
  • For proving that we need each other, and that social distancing does more damage than a magnified microscopic virus ever could.
  • For settling forever any doubts about whether God keeps His promises to His children!

 

We have a clean slate!

 

So thanks, 2020, for ending, leading to a new beginning, with a future as bright as the promises of our God!  We now officially leave you behind.
Hebrews 12:1

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight [2020], and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, [2021]


God wants this New Year to be a new beginning for us to make a fresh start. 

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.


ill.--What is the one thing most people have in common at the New Year? Most of us make resolutions, don’t we? One young boy asked his father what his New Year’s resolution was, and his father said he was going to do everything possible in the New Year to make his mother very happy.
The boy asked his mother what hers was, and she said, “To do everything possible to make sure your father keeps his resolution.”

The number one resolution in America is always this:  to lose weight.

A wife came into the bathroom to see her husband standing on the scales with his stomach sucked in. She said, is that really gonna help?  He said, sure, or else I can’t read the numbers!

 

We need to make a resolution to be F.A.T.: faithful, available, teachable

You must be FAITHFUL. How faithful are you to Jesus Christ? Are you faithful just when it is convenient to do so, or are you faithful even when it isn’t? Sunday church isn’t a Saturday decision…it was made long ago.  In my family we never asked, are we going to church!

 

But it you can’t be there, do you watch the video?  That’s faithfulness!

Do you make up your offerings when you miss church? 

Are you faithful to defend God in public?  Are you faithful in private?


That is being faithful to Jesus. You focus on Him and do things for His glory, even when it is an inconvenience to you to do so.

You must be AVAILABLE. How available are you? Do you seek to serve God and minister to others?  That’s the contributor mentality.  Church members today have a consumer mentality.  But Jesus came not to be ministered unto, but to minister!

And you must be TEACHABLE. Are you willing to listen to the truth and grow and change, or do you get irritated and quit listening?  It takes humility.  You know what humility looks like?  Open your eyes for once during the invitation and look at people kneeling at this altar! 


To be a Christian who is walking forward for the Lord and not just sitting in one spot, claiming the miracles of Christ, we need to be F.A.T. (Faithful, Available, and Teachable.) Are you?
 

To have a clean slate we must:


1. LEAVE THE PAST BEHIND

When we pray, we often take our needs to the Lord and ask His help in dealing with them. But then what do we often do? Instead of leaving them with Him, we take them back with us as we finish praying.

We need to learn to leave things where they belong.  God wants us looking forward, the devil would rather we look back.  But we must ‘press toward the mark’! [verse on screen]


We talk about our walk in life; our walk of faith; and walk with the Lord. By its very nature, walking means moving forward. And as we move forward, we are always doing two things: We leave one place and go into another.

- - LEAVE YOUR RESENTMENT BEHIND


Luke 9:62
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Each of us resent something. We might resent something we have said and done, or we might resent what someone else has said and done. But along with resentment comes unforgiveness. And unforgiveness is a very dangerous thing to keep in our lives.

Jesus said that if we forgive, God will forgive us. But if we do not forgive, God will not forgive us. Now, we must understand that to forgive does not mean the same thing as to forget. We cannot erase our memories, but we can erase our resentment.

So forget those things which hurt you. And forgive those people who did or said them. I like the old saying: “Look lovingly upon your enemies, for it is you who have made them.”


Also, if you stoop low enough to begrudge others - - THEY COME OUT ON TOP! So make a decision to leave your resentment behind.

- - LEAVE YOUR WORRIES BEHIND

Worries are very much like rocking chairs. They give you something to do, but they never take you anywhere while you’re doing it.


When we worry, it becomes the predominate thought of our lives. It also causes some forms of mental illness, much stress, and things that destroy our lives. Worry has killed more people than hard work ever did. Worry is the cause of fear.

So, leave your worries behind as you enter the New Year, too.

- - LEAVE YOUR FAILURES BEHIND

Is achievement really success?  No!  Faithfulness is!

The only time you fail is when you don’t try to do anything! We need to understand that God has called us to have faith long before He ever called us to achieve. We are called to be in Christ, and as long as we are in Him, we are successful.

When we as a nation, or as individuals, have strayed from our Lord, we will find failure in our lives. But when we turn back once again to Him, He will hear our pleas and He will restore us, for He is a God of restoration.

Part of going forward is leaving the past behind.

Imagine a trapeze artist swinging from one swing to another, high above the ground with no net under him. As he reaches out to the next swing, what must he do? He must let go of the one he is on. If he refuses to let go of the swing he is on, will he ever be able to go to the next swing? Absolutely not.

You may still accidentally write 2020 on your checks for a while, but let that year be fully completed. Let it take its rightful place in the hallway of the past.

 

- - LEAVE YOUR SINS BEHIND

 

If you’ve never been saved, consider the clean slate available to you now:

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Christians, God in His longsuffering love for us gives us 2nd chances...He’ll allow us a do over now!

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

And after you let go of the past, you must learn to …

2. GRAB HOLD OF THE FUTURE.

The past has passed, but your future is an unwritten book!  Each new year is a representative thing. It represents to us that there is a whole range of new opportunities for us; an unlimited chance to have a better life. At the start of every year, we see magazines publishing predictions on how they think the world will be in the upcoming year. Some of these predictions have been accurate, but most have fallen way short of being true.

One such prediction a few years ago was that in the 21st century, time-saving technology would be so advanced that the world would not work more than about 20 hours a week. I think we can all agree that prediction missed the mark by a mile.

It seems that, no matter how far advanced technology gets, we just keep getting busier and busier. Someone said that the merry-go-round of life has gotten so fast that we now have no chance of stepping off.


Ephesians 5:16-17

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.


- - OUR TIME ON THIS EARTH IS LIMITED.

Psalms 90:10
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.


Our lives seem so long – to us. I’ve been alive as long as I can remember!  Some of you must be bored stiff!  But in reality, our lives are very short. Considering that, wouldn’t it do us good to make sure that we use 2021 as a time to really get right with the Lord? I am talking about getting totally sold out for Jesus.

What seems like forever to us is only a blink of an eye. The psalmist writes that our life lasts no longer than the vapor of our breath; it is here and then it is gone.

ill--Two teenagers who are in love can sit in a car talking and an hour only seems like a minute to them. However, that same hour seems like an eternity to their parents.

We must also prioritize so that we …

- - DO NOT LOSE WHAT WE HAVE TO OVERLOAD.

How many times do we hear that, because somebody was so stressed from overload, they snapped or had a melt down? Have you ever heard of anyone having mental or emotional problems because they had everything under control?

 

Better to do just one thing, and do it well, than to have so many irons in the fire and run around failing at everything!

We must be sure that we have our priorities set in order.

We must also…

3. KNOW WHAT THE LORD’S WILL IS FOR US

Again, quoting the Apostle Paul, on screen, he says for us "...to not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is."

I am assuming that since you are in church today, you realize that you need the Lord in your life, and it’s time for us to reclaim our lives that are being taken away from us.  In 2020, we got played!  Let’s make a new start now on our knees, in true humility!

 

[portions based on sermon by Bruce Ball]

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