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New Year 2018

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Introduction

We are closing the chapter in history known as 2017… we have less than 13 hours to wrap out this calendar year
As with most any year, there were many changes, challenges, and celebrations over the last 12 months
How has your relationship with God changed in 2017?
What has God done to refine your character throughout this past year?
Josh & Jean welcomed a newborn son in Jerusalem
Is there growth? Falling away? Stagnation? Why?
What resolutions did you make for 2017?
What happened with those resolutions?
Simon Byler had successful heart surgery
Did they make a difference?
Did you keep them?
Do you remember them?
Did you write them down?
Deaths: My dad, Homer Yoder, Sheldon Bacher, JD Stoltzfus, Jacob Prakasham in India
Did you share them with anyone else?
Do you expect things to improve in the new year? Why?
Homer Yoder passed away suddenly
Do you
What will you do differently?
What are your resolutions for 2018?
What are your resolutions for 2018?
Do you have any? Why?

Are New Years Resolutions a Good Idea?

Jonathan Edwards had 70 written resolutions… he read them every week… they are publicly available
What about your resolutions?
What happened with those resolutions?
Do you share them with anyone?
Do you proclaim them publicly?
Why?
Pride? Humility? Embarrassment? Perceptions?
While not called such, there are statements of resolve by individuals throughout Scripture
There is no indication of displeasure from God for such resolutions
Are these individuals arrogant? Are they really honest? Are they sincere?
(KJV)
2 I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. (walk with integrity of heart - ESV)
I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. (walk with integrity of heart - ESV)
3 I will set no wicked [worthless] thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.
I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.
4 A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person. (I will know nothing of evil - ESV)
(ESV)
Did they make a difference?
I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?
Did you keep them?
(ESV)
31 “I have made a covenant with my eyes;
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.
Do you remember them?
how then could I gaze at a virgin?
12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.
(ESV)
Do you remember them?
Did you write them down?
59 When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; 60 I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.
Did you share them with anyone else?
(ESV)
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
God’s stated purpose for His word being written and given to us is “so that we may not sin.”
If we strive for that (to not sin) and find ourselves falling, there is a remedy for that - we have Jesus as our Advocate with the Father
If we don’t even try to not sin - assume that we will - we certainly will sin
Will we sin this week? we should not even ask a question like that
Rather, we should focus on living rightly NOW in obedience… by the power of God available to all of us!
(ESV)
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,
(ESV)
Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
I believe God honors believers who resolve to live in obedience to those things revealed in Scripture and that the Holy Spirit impresses on our lives. God honors the intention, motivation, and desire to do these things because we love Him.

Walk Circumspectly… Redeeming the Time

Walk Circumspectly… Redeeming the Time

(KJV)
1 Be ye therefore followers [imitators] of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Walk circumspectly...
Be very careful how you live...
Watch your step. Use your head.
Act like people with good sense
Look carefully then how you walk!
Live purposefully and worthily and accurately

Redeeming the time...
Make the most of every opportunity
Make the most of every chance you get
Use every chance you have for doing good
Make every minute count
Make the very most of time… buying up each opportunity
Understanding and grasping what the will of the Lord it
As we walk circumspectly… redeeming the time… the will of the Lord will become more obvious and we will better understand what He wants from us
Time doesn’t discriminate
Time is consumed
Time is limited
Time is temporary

One Word

Jonathan Edwards had 70 resolutions he read every single week...
For many of us, new year’s resolutions can seem a bit trite or unnecessary
Why even bother
At the same time, I believe God does want us to be intentional about our personal and spiritual growth
Developing seventy resolutions like Jonathan Edwards is definitely over the top
Several years ago I was introduced to a much simpler approach
Identify and pick one word to focus on for the year!
Throughout the year, keep this one word as a focal point
While much simpler than a list of ten or twenty or seventy resolutions, it does also require intentional effort
What are some things you would like to change about yourself?
What distracts you from focusing on the change or spiritual growth you desire?
Are you trying to change yourself
Are there areas of your life or character where you are resistant to God’s grace? Do you feel like you have hit a plateau in your spiritual growth? Why?
We have limited ability to help and change ourselves and grow spiritually
We have limited ability to help and change ourselves and grow spiritually
Willpower and determination alone are not adequate!
When we are born-again, we are a new creature… empowered by God to do His will (while confined in our sinful bodies in a sinful world)
By focusing on one word we are putting ourselves in a posture to more fully depend on Christ
Change is possible by the grace of God… focus is required
When we miserably fail - even with the focus on a single word, we recommit to depend on God for the power to improve
It is moving beyond self-help (doing it in my own strength) into full surrender and godly dependence
Philippians 1:6 ESV
6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Phil 1:6
Choose your ONE WORD (handout)
What kind of person do you want to become this year?
What drives your desire to become this kind of person?
Describe the characteristics of this kind of person. Make a list of words based on this description
Reduce your list to ten words or less and research those words.
Prayerfully choose one word from the list to be your one word for the year
Choose a Bible verse that speaks to you about your chosen word and memorize it. This will provide a foundation of truth you can continually return to and will fuel your hope to change.
Watch out for deception
Psalm 51:5–7 ESV
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
(ESV) Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
David acknowledges the truth about ourselves...
… about who we are (sinners) — Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
… about who we are called to be (morally sound) — Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom [moral insight] in the secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Three realities we must be honest about if we expect to grow spiritually
An accurate view of Jesus Christ
An accurate view of ourselves
An accurate view of ourselves in Christ Jesus
How do we gain an accurate view of ourselves?
The best way is to regularly look in the mirror of God’s Word
(ESV) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
James 1:22–25 ESV
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
Scripture is transformational
Hebrews 4:12–13 ESV
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
The Word exposes our hearts before our merciful God
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
Apart from the Word of God, we really cannot know who God is and how God is… and neither do we readily recognize who or how we truly are either
It is more than reading… let it soak into our heart… let it interpret you… let it seep out through your actions
Only when we begin to let what we believe affect what we do are we able to grow spiritually
Talking about and knowing about God’s word is not enough… that leads to deception
Obedience — doing what God says is the cure to being deceived
Keep your one word in front of you
I need reminders… we all need reminders
Make it visible… at home, at work, in your vehicle
Tell others… encourage them to ask about it
Share it at share time…
Hearing God
Matthew 13:13 ESV
13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
John 10:37 ESV
37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me;
How do we hear God?
(ESV) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
(ESV) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
We have confidence He speaks… we also know we can hear
(ESV) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
Those who belong to God will hear Him speak
As you focus on choosing a word, the confirmation within us is a way of God speaking to us
the question whether we will follow Him throughout this year as He reveals things about the word we chose and about ourselves
What then is the issue?
What then is the issue?
According to scripture, hearing requires action!
We are expected to obey what we read in Scripture and what we sense the Holy Spirit whispering to our hearts
(ESV) This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
if we don’t obey, we didn’t really hear
Matthew 13:13 (ESV) This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
(ESV) This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
When we have chosen a word,
if we don’t obey, we didn’t really hear
(ESV) But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,
Any perceived lack of hearing from God is probably an issue of obedience on matters already revealed
God honors obedience from the heart… even when we don’t understand!
1. Hearing God requires consistency in my walk
How consistent have I been lately in seeking God and abiding in Him?
2. Hearing God requires clarity on His purpose
Does this line up with what I understand of God’s purposes for me?
3. Hearing God requires confirmation in the Word
What distracts you from focusing on the change or spiritual growth you desire?
Are you trying to change yourself
Are there areas of your life or character where you are resistant to God’s grace? Do you feel like you have hit a plateau in your spiritual growth? Why?
Does this line up with what the whole of Scripture teaches?
4. Hearing God requires counsel from wise friends
What have my friends and mentors advised?
What is the next step God has revealed regarding your word? If you don’t know, pray and ask God to reveal the next step… reflect on the verse selected and let it guide you
O - obedient
C - conscientious, consistent, Christ-like,
U - useful, unchained, unselfish, understanding
S - selfless, sensitive, sacrificial
L - love
O - obey
V -
E - exemplify
Psalm 101:2–4 GNB
2 My conduct will be faultless. When will you come to me? I will live a pure life in my house, 3 and will never tolerate evil. I hate the actions of those who turn away from God; I will have nothing to do with them. 4 I will not be dishonest, and will have no dealings with evil.
Job 31:1 ESV
1 “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?
1 Corinthians 6:12 ESV
12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.
Psalm 119:59–60 ESV
59 When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; 60 I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.
James 5:17 ESV
17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.
Jude 24 ESV
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,
1 John 2:1 ESV
1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
matt 22:
Matthew 22:37 ESV
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Ephesians 5:1–21 ESV
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
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