But first I thought it would be interesting to muse a few minutes about a few common things that always come up as the calendar turns to another year.
Perhaps you have already seen some speculations about the future. Futurists cannot contain themselves at this time of the year. During this first month of the year I’m quite sure we all will see some interesting headlines in the news filled with predictions about the future.
Of course, the advances of technology are very real and new technology will continue to change our world. However, some folks get a bit carried away.
For example, one gentlemen writes:
One of the good things about most governments being bankrupt is that they’re being forced to cede the conquest of space to entrepreneurs, who will colonize the moon, the asteroids, and the planets . . . He continues:
You need “stuff” to make what you need. A lack of raw materials has always been a major reason for conflict. But digging things out of the Earth, using big yellow trucks, will no longer be humanity’s only option. The asteroids are full of dense elements. They’ll soon become available in massive quantity, cheaply. (unquote)
Well, I think I’m a bit behind in my reading. While it is true asteroids contain various elements I was unaware of the fact that we would soon land on these space objects and beginning a mining company there! I must say that the musings of the humanistic mindset is creative, albeit quite misguided.
Whether mankind wants to come to grips with it or not, we are stuck on planet earth. Unfortunately in their haste to save mankind from extinction some humanistic futurists have embraced pure science fiction as though it can be reality. Beware of godless thinking as it leads to a false hope. For the truth about the future I suggest you study your Bible!
Here is another outlandish proposition from the mind of someone quite willing to deny the Word of God. He says:
It’s clear we’re on the edge of solving the problem of aging; it should be addressed as a degenerative disease. All other diseases are simply footnotes to aging. If you live long enough, you can be, do, and have everything that you can imagine. It’s likely to be possible soon.
The creation of not just new body parts, but new bodies, made to order, is in the works. And new species. And much more. Who really knows what can be done with DNA? But the answer is probably: Almost anything, in lots of ways. (unquote)
Ah, yes—the arrival of a New Year is full of humanistic inspiration. Did you know that mankind is on the verge of solving the problem of aging?
How silly! In fact, we will never live as long as the ancient patriarchs. Not even close. My friends, the problem of aging is connected to the enemy we call death. Death has passed upon all men as a consequence of sin. The only one with the power to stop the aging process is God Almighty.
By the way, He is going to do just that one day when death is swallowed up in victory. We will have a new body all right, but it will never be manufactured by a US pharmaceutical company. On the contrary, God will cloth us with a new body on that great resurrection day when Christ returns!
Here is another quote connected to something that is real and if the Lord tarries will impact our way of life. In some limited ways it already is. I am talking about the subject of robotics. One commentator writes:
(We are) not just (talking about) smart machines in factories. In fact, factories themselves may be on their way out. Humanoid beings—products of bioengineering and AI (artificial intelligence)—could replace them. They’ll perhaps be almost indistinguishable from normal people.
This alone, the creation of intelligent machines, will overturn the nature of society, family, warfare, work—everything.
At some point, very soon, machines will be smarter than their creators and will in turn create other machines smarter than they are. And continue doing so at a geometric rate. (unquote)
No one should deny the advances in robotics and artificial intelligence. These advances are very real. However, to imagine a world where robots take over is pure science fiction. In fact, since mankind’s rebellion against the knowledge of God could lead him into some very dangerous realities the Lord himself will intervene. We have a historic precedent for this. In Genesis chapter 11 we read:
“And the Lord said, Behold, the people are one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”
Of course, you know the history. God confused their language and mankind’s determined advances without the appropriate fear and knowledge of God was derailed.
In light of the current explosion of knowledge it will not be long before the Lord intervenes again lest mankind travels down some roads prohibited by the Sovereign of the universe. Just remember this: God is in control, not a bunch of evolutionary humanists who think they can create their own reality to please their own ungodly lusts.
Mankind’s high ambitions of building a world without God will soon run headlong into God’s prophetic program! Just as ancient Babel met its demise, in similar fashion modern day Babylon will fall sooner than you think. Mankind cannot save itself, nor can mankind create the illusive dream of world peace longed for with the advent of each New Year.
But there is hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is coming again to establish a kingdom that ultimately will far exceed anything mankind can imagine. Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Now, let us consider the main message today.
Each New Year offers us the opportunity to push the “reset button.” We all need a fresh start. We need to clear the clutter caused by the cares of life and hit the “reset button” so to speak.
The way to do so is to focus on things of great importance. We need to get back on course by focusing on the things that really matter. For many reasons as life unfolds during the year we tend to lose our focus on the real substance of life. Let’s see if we can re-focus on four things that will absolutely help us live life with greater meaning and greater satisfaction.
First, let me call your attention to the importance of faithful stewardship. Biblical stewardship entails the concept of accountability to God for the use of all He gives to us.
Life itself is a gift from God. What are you doing with yours?
What I mean by that question is this: are you building your life around the Lord? The Lord should be the center of each day we live. We live in His presence moment by moment. We are ever sensitive to His will. We desire to discern His will in every area of our life and we proceed to obey him as His will becomes clear to us.
Again, life itself is a gift from God. Focus on living to God’s glory each day and your life will have a deeper sense of purpose. Serve the Lord faithfully. You will never regret doing so. As you enter this New Year ask yourself this question: in what ways do I need to be more faithful. Remember, we learn from past failures. However, we do not dwell upon them. Our goal is simply not to repeat them. Again, in what ways do you personally need to be more faithful to the Lord?
Faithful stewardship also entails the proper handling of our personal finances. I encourage you to be at Wednesday night service . . . Also, you will see those teaching segments on the Mon/Tues editions of CBM Today . . .
For the purposes of this message just allow me to list a few things that are at the heart of good financial stewardship before the Lord:
Keep the Lord first; establish a clear savings goal and DO IT; live within your means: downsize if necessary and create NO NEW CONSUMER DEBT.
The net results of these actions will be a greater level of faithful stewardship in the sight of the Lord. (That is all I have time to touch upon in this message, but please take these things to heart . . .)
Next, let me call your attention to a special invitation the Lord extends to all of us. This is of the greatest importance. We need to draw near to God in 2017. The Lord promises in James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you.”
The simplicity of the statement brings us to a mighty promise! Our heavenly Father will draw near to us as we focus on drawing near to him. What could be more important than building a closer walk with the Lord in 2017?
Here are several essential elements to a closer walk with the Lord:
Build a prayer life . . . Separate from the world in attitude and behavior . . . Cultivate a soul winners heart . . .
I wish I could speak at length about each of those points, but you can take them home with you and focus upon each until they find their way into your life in greater measure.
Next, in 2017 we must lay aside besetting sins. The Word of God says in the book of Hebrews, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith . . .” (Heb. 12:1-2a).
We all need to beware of sin as we enter 2017. No believer is above sin. My friend, take heed lest you fall in 2017. The best way to avoid transgressions that will trouble your life is to stay in the house of God, stay in your Bible, practice Bible separation from the lost world, and engage in appropriate prayer. Prayer is a hedge against sin (Matt. 26:40-41).
Finally, the fourth thing I call your attention to is this: watch for His return. I will let our Lord teach us on the subject with his powerful words from the gospels of Matthew and Mark which say,
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch” (Matthew 24; Mark 13).
With each passing year our world takes a step closer to the dramatic return of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is coming! Is he coming for you?
Watch with an honest heart. The only way to watch is to confess Christ openly before men. Does anyone know you are a believer? Do you confess Christ before men?
Watch with a holy life. We are called to holiness. We do not serve sin as a master. Rather, we set ourselves in agreement with the Lord. If he says something is wrong, then we agree with him. We do not argue with him, nor do we justify our sins. Instead we battle sin. We confess our sins and in our heart we forsake our sins. Are you watching with a holy life?
There is no way to be the kind of Christian you should be in 2017 if you fail to watch for his return. May the Lord stir these thoughts to your heart is my prayer.