"SOME THING NEW FOR YOUR NEW YEAR" By Pastor YAU
Text: 2 Corinthians 5:17 January 1, 2006
- New things for the New Year: In many cultures, new and old, people like to buy new things for special occasions: weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, New Year, etc. Getting new things for special occasion certainly adds to the atmosphere of festivity and excitement. It also serves as means of love, gratitude, support and reward. It is not the costs or price of the new things we get for our loved ones that makes the difference but the meaning and the heart behind the action of buying and giving that counts. The tradition of buying and giving new things will certainly continue.
- The problems of New Things: All material new things will certainly become old sooner or later. Both the things and the meaning will fade in time. They will be replaced by newer things in newer days. While this practice may be good for economy, it does reflect the fleeting nature of material possession. No human heart may be completely satisfied by all the new things man able to find and to keep. This is so partly because the desire of the heart is ever changing on one side and the new things will certainly become old and lose their attraction on the other. Man is destined to feel empty and sad if he tries to find true joy and contentment in new things.
NEW THINGS GOD HAS OFFERED: Many people will not look to God or the Bible for new things because they believe that both God and the Bible are too old and must be out of date. But that is a serious misconception. In fact, God in His word has offered many wonderful new things for those who truly believe in Him and want to have better and more lasting new things for their lives. I have found more than 20 new things in the Bible and will share with you only some of them due to the limited time we have in a worship service.
- A new creation: "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone the new has come." (2 Corinth. 5:17) Ever since sin had infiltrated the old creation and had caused man to be under the control of Satan and sin and the punishment of eternal separation from God, man is offered a way back to God through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. All who have placed their faith in Jesus as the Son of the living God are in the New Creation category and will be restored to a personal relationship with God. This is the first NEW thing man may find in God and is the foundation of all other new things following. Without this new life in Christ, no one is able to find and enjoy any of the new things God has offered us in the Bible.
- A new way to live: "We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that we too may live a new life." (Romans 6:4) Paul was not talking about the gift of new life given to all who believe in Jesus Christ. He was talking about "to live out" the new life as a result of our faith in Him. The new life of salvation is a gift of God by His grace but the "live out" that new life is the responsibility of the believers. The new life given to us is on the inside of us and must be acted out in our daily life so the world may see what is the beauty of it and therefore God will receive the glory and others may be drawn to Him.
- A new knowledge: "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer." (2 Corinth. 5:16) Most people will not object getting to know Jesus but many of them regard Him either as the founder of a new religion or a moral example, a social reformer, a philosopher, a prophet or even an educator. But Paul insisted that we, the believers, need to have a new knowledge of Him, a Savior, a redeemer, the son of the living God, the eternal High Priest, just to list a few. Christian faith is not just another religion and Jesus is not just another religious founder.
- A new value system: "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compare to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have counted all things as loss. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ." (Phil. 3:7-8) Loss or gain is based on our value system. One thing may be a gain or precious to someone but may be considered a loss with no importance to another. A true Christian is given a new sect of value system to evaluate everything surrounding him. When we stand closer to Jesus, we will see things and their value from the perspective of Jesus like Paul did.
- A new purpose: "If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord." (Romans 14:8) Far too many people, including some who call themselves Christians, never understand that we were purchased by the Lord with a price, his death, and belong to him. None of us should live our lives to fulfill our purposes but His. Rick Warren’s book Purpose Driven Life gives us a clear picture on the purpose we need to have to live our life for God and not for ourselves. We were born with His purpose and we need to live to fulfill that purpose.
- New Strength: "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and grow weary, they will walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31) We all know the need of strength be it physical, emotional and spiritual, to live a victorious life. We also know how weak we can be in facing seemingly insurmountable problems, setbacks and defeats. Strength is something we often times lack to have. But God promises to provide us unlimited supply of strength to win over all obstacles of life.
- New resources: "Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14) In common sense we all know the importance of water as a sustaining resource of life. Those who belong to Jesus will have eternal supply of this life sustaining resource in him that will never run dry. Our God will never allow any one of His children to live a day without the necessary supply of resource be it material or emotional. He is the creator of the universe and is able to provide us all we may need.
THESE ARE BETTER THAN THE BEST: Most men would think the best thing to have for the New Year is to have a new dream car while many of the ladies would love to have a full-carat diamond ring. But look at the above list: any one of them is much better than anything your heart may desire. Why?
- They are from God: Have any one of you received a gift from President Bush attached with a personal letter? All of the gifts listed above are from the almighty God with His autographed signature, the Bible. There is no one else more reliable or capable or trustworthy or prestigious to give you the best others than God. You can always trust Him that whatever He has in His promises is always the best.
- They will never grow old: All the wonderful gifts we may buy or were given will grow old, faded, dusty, dull and lose their importance or glamour in time. But the gifts from God will always remain new, fresh, bright, charming and shiny and desirable because God will make them new every morning to meet the specific needs of our day. (Lamentation 3:23)
- They are available to all people: People give special or expensive gifts to those whom they love, related, worthy or because of their importance. No one will give best or most expensive gifts just to anyone or everyone. But that is exactly what God has done: He will give anything, the best, to anyone who will just ask Him and be willing to receive. The only qualification to receive His gifts is to accept His Son Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord and all His treasures are yours to enjoy as long as you live.
- They will meet the deepest desires of man: No one knows his own heart what does he need tomorrow, next year or 10 years from now but God does. When man cannot meet his heart’s desire from time to time, God is always there to provide exactly what he needs or desires His way. God is a living God and He will never run out of resources or supplies to meet our needs.
- They satisfy our spiritual vacuum: All material gifts can only fulfill the physical needs of man. None of the beautiful and expensive gifts we may get is able to fill up that spiritual vacuum which can only be filled with the gifts from God. Man is more than a physical being but also a spiritual being. Only the gifts from God are able to fill up that hunger for spiritual needs.
- They are life changing: While we all are happy to receive precious gifts but no one or his life is going to be changed because of a new gift. But that is exactly what the gifts of God can do for us. To receive any of the above mentioned gifts, one needs to start a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, His Son. Then when new life goes on, this human life is set in motion of changing on the inside we call spiritual growth. The more this man grows his spiritual life, the more he will experience the fullness of God gift and the joy that comes with it. The power of that gift will grow as the man’s spiritual life grows as Paul says "the immeasurable power and riches of God."
- They will affect others: I have never seen any new thing or gift that has affected others other than the recipient. But the new gifts God has offered us will and have affected others, in fact, millions, through history. Because of the effects of life changing by the gift of God, we become life witnesses of the love and power of God. It is through that ever growing cycle of influence of Christians, others were brought into the Kingdom of God and salvation in Jesus Christ. To receive the gifts of God is more than just for our personal benefit it is for reaching others as God has commanded us to.
- What do you want for New Year: Make a list of things you want for the New Year. Search deep into your heart and see the real needs and ask God to provide for you. He is always wise and able to meet your needs His way.
- Look from a level higher: Most of us already have most of the tings we need for living. Search deeper and higher to see if there are still empty space that need to be filled up with the gifts from God. Look beyond material things into spiritual things because they will do you much more than material things in the long run.
- Getting the BEST gift of God: Nothing is more precious or important than to have eternal life in the Lord Jesus. New Year is the best time to start that salvation relationship with Him. Make that decision to accept Him as your Lord and Savior and you will have that non-stop supply of spiritual blessings.