A Topical Message Suitable for the New Year
"What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expect generally happens." So said 19th century politician Benjamin Disraeli. At every new year the experts try to determine what will happen in the forthcoming months: politically, economically, and socially. The tabloids take it a step further. They consult astrologers and psychics who predict the future for the new year. Christians know that the future is not seen in the stars, or in the subconscious minds of so-called psychics. Even the brightest and best minds can not predict what 2004 holds for us. Humanly speaking, we would do well to remember Disraeli's quote.
But spiritually speaking, we should be wise to our immediate future. In Matthew Chapter Sixteen, Jesus chides the Pharisees and Saducees for not discerning the times in which they lived. They were better at weather prediction than Bible study. Likewise, many Christians today live in ignorance of God's mighty workings because of Bible neglect. What are some things we can anticipate God doing in 2004? Are there any clear-cut answers in the Scripture? Where will we be this time next year?
I. Anticipating God's Grace -He Will Save!
Some Christians seem to think that God is going out of business! The hyper-calvinists are like the rancher who, upon losing his herd, simply opened the gates and waited for his cattle to come back. Bible Christians know that God works through human witness to win the lost. Some of the more orthodox brethren may say they believe in God's saving power, but their actions speak differently. The following verses are still in the Bible:
1Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.We have not passed unknowingly into a new dispensation in which God has ceased saving by grace through faith. He is still convicting! He is still drawing! He is still saving! I remind you of the story of David and Mephibosheth in which David said, "Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him?" In the parable of the great supper, the servant reported back to his lord, "Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room." The negative thinking Christian can think of a hundred reasons why few are being saved today. But God would have us anticipate His grace in 2004. There is yet room in the House of God! there is yet room in the Family of God! There is yet room at the feet of Jesus!
II. Anticipating God's Goodness -He Will Bless!
In John 11, Lazarus was seriously sick. Mary and Martha, in verse three, send for Jesus. They knew the nature of Christ. They knew that He loved Lazarus and wanted the best for him. We focus on Martha's unbelief as Christ confronts her after Lazarus' death. But what of her great statement: "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." She anticipated the goodness of God. She anticipated a blessing. Certainly, the passage teaches us that God is in control even when we may not understand His purposes. But we should anticipate the spiritual blessings that God promised us in this Age of Grace.
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
So many people today don't know what to do or where to turn. Christians, too, seem to have trouble finding their way. This should not be true. The believer has One who leads him. "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."
Psalm 48:14 For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.John 16:13 says, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come." Hr led Moses to the back side of the desert and then to confront the Pharoah. He led Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, David, & Daniel. He will lead us as well.
IV. Anticipating God's Genius -He Will Speak!
Young Samuel heard the voice of God in the house of Eli the priest, but was not anticipating it. He misread the voice and thought it came from Eli. Eli made him aware that God was speaking to him and afterward he said, "Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth." God will speak to us in 2004. Hen speaks through the preaching of His Word, if we have ears to hear. He speaks through personal Bible study, if we enter into it seeking His voice.
1 Corinthians 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
Is God at work in the affairs of humanity today? Doubters and scoffers say "no." They ask, "How could God be active in the world today with such pain, suffering, and sorrow?" Those questions are answered when we consider the sin question and man's continual disobedience to God. But there is no doubt to the child of God that He is providencially working today. Psalm 59:13 says "... that they may not be: and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth." And Psalm 66:7 says "He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations.." God rules over nations and people.
Psalm 89:9 says "Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them." So we see that God rules over the weather and natual things. Psalm 103:19 tells us "The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all." There is no aspect of the earth that God does not totally control.
Ephesians 1:8-10 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:God rules in our lives as well. He has a master plan that He is working out in our lives. He is conforming us into His image. He is making us like Him. Submit to his molding. May 2004 be a year that God works tremendously in your life!
VI. Anticipating God's Glory -He Will Come!
I do not say
with any authority at all that Christ will definitely return in 2004.
looked for Christ's return for over 2000 years. It seems silly in
the eyes of the skeptics for us to anticipate Christ's coming even still.
John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.John closes the book of Revelation with these words, "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Like generations before us, we anticipate the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ! It could be in 2004!
We don't need to read behind the experts in the fields of economics, culture,
or politics to know what 2004 holds. We don't need to consult the
psychics and astrologers either. The child of God needs only to consult
his Bible and be available to the call of God on His life. May we
be that kind of servant in 2004!
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