Faithlife Sermons

A Successful Launch to a New Year

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Boeing had a bad year. First there was the Boeing 737 Max fiasco, then there was the botched launch of the Boeing Starliner space capsule. In each case, human error and faulty programing caused these two vehicles to go off course and in the case of the 737 Max, to actually crash, with the lose of lives!
As the Old Year comes to a close and a New Year approaches, people naturally reflect on what has happened this past year and what might happen this coming year. Sometimes such reflections are very profitable and propel us in a successful direction in the New Year, but often our reflections are like a missile that has gone off course and we are propelled into an unprofitable direction.
As Paul concludes his final instructions to the Philippians, he speaks to the how we are to reflect on the past and the future. He says this:
Philippians 4:8 ESV
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
In this one verse, Paul points seven ways in which we are to guide our thoughts. Just as a guided missile has a computer guiding its direction, our minds are the guidance system of our life. If we program our minds the way God intended, we will head in the direction of blessing. If we fail to do this, we will head off into disaster.

Whatever is True

Paul begins were all profitable thinking begins—The Truth! As Jesus stood before Pilate, Pilate asked, “What is truth?” This has been the question that has troubled every generation, but in the post-modern age in which we live in it is even more elusive. Even the idea that there is objective truth is questioned. According to post-modern relativism, everyone creates their own “truth.”
Jesus came to this world for many reasons, not the least to be for us the true standard of truth.
John 1:14 ESV
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 14:6 ESV
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
One of the better books to come out in recent years is entitled: “The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between.” I love this title, because it reminds us that only by having a biblical worldview are, we able to understand reality.
What does this mean for us practically? It means everything around you that is not Christians is a distortion of the truth! Far too many Christians today program their minds according to the distortions of the world rather than the truth of God’s Word. Listen to Paul’s instruction to the Roman church:
Romans 12:2 ESV
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
What Paul is saying is this: as our minds become more conformed to the Word of God, we are better able to discern the will of God, which is good, acceptable and perfect! This is why daily reading and meditating upon God’s Word is so important.
Many of you are in the habit of reading through the bible in a year. In past years, we have provided a daily reading plan to guide you in doing this, but for many, reading this much is too much. This is why we are offering the 5X5X5 reading plan. In only 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week, you will be able to read through the New Testament! This is a reading plan everyone will be able to complete!

Whatever is Good

In this point I am lumping the other six characteristics together. I am doing this not only for the sake of time, but because the word “good” sums up our verse of the year for 2020.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 ESV
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Our Session picked this verse because we think there is much confusion today as to what is truly “good.” We live in a divided country and the debate over what is “good” has not only gotten uncivil, it has gotten violent! After looking at all the options this world offers, the author of Ecclesiastes comes to the “end of the matter—fear God and keep his commandments”!
In Paul’s day, one of the highest virtues in both Pagan and Jewish culture was honor. People were very careful not to dishonor other people or do anything that would bring dishonor upon themselves. Ecclesiastes 12:13 reminds us that the person we should most be concerned about not dishonoring is God. This is what it means to fear God and obey is commandments.
We need to make sure that our thought do not bring dishonor to God.
A good rule of thumb is this: If my thoughts were posted to social media, would I be ashamed of them?
If everyone could see your thoughts would you be seen as someone who is just?
Would your thoughts be seen as pure?
Would people admire your thoughts are lovely?
Would they commend them and call them excellent?
Would they praise both God and yourself for these thoughts?

Take Every Thought Captive

I want to close by looking at another verse in which Paul speaks of our thoughts.
2 Corinthians 10:4–5 ESV
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
Most people allow their thoughts to run out of control and it is easy to see why; in our natural sinful state we have no control. The “flesh” has no power to control our thoughts, but things can be different for the Christian. We have available to us “divine power” that is able to “destroy strongholds” and to “take every thought captive”!
I wouldn’t preach this sermon to you if this were not true, it would be too frustrating and depressing.
The Gospel is the key to unlocking the power to reprograming your mind and this is good news, because if we do not our lives are going to crash and burn like a Boeing 737 Max!
Start this New Year and new decade off right—renew your mind in Christ Jesus!
Let us pray.
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