January 2, 2020- Numbering our Days, A Heart of Wisdom- Psalm 90:12, John 1:14-18

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So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 (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 bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”)  For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. John 1:14-18 (ESV)

Every January rolls around and it seems we want to take up New Year’s resolutions.  “This is the year we stick to a budget or to a diet or to an exercise program!”  Until the first of February or so, when we realize that the budget, diet or fitness regimen isn’t happening the way we wanted it to.  Even if we are disciplined enough to do things right most of the time, as we learn in Psalm 90:10- The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.

Fallible human beings are not the greatest at keeping resolutions.  Life happens.  Discipline and order are good things, but so are forgiveness and flexibility when situations call for those.  We need discernment, the wisdom that can only come from the power of the Holy Spirit, far more than we need one time resolutions that most often fail.

Solomon, the son of David prayed for wisdom- not for riches or conquests or power and land, even though God added those to him. (2 Chronicles 1:7-13)  Yet even a person with the wisdom of Solomon was not able to live according to the Law.  As Solomon got older he got enamored of foreign women and took wives who worshiped idols, and even he was not completely faithful to God.

The apostle John leads us to the answer to the wisdom question: The Word. We do not have wisdom on our own apart from God.  Wisdom is found in the fear of the Lord, Jesus Christ, the Word who became flesh, bringing the fulfillment of Moses’ law, and providing the grace and truth that we do not have.

Our life on this earth is both joy and sorrow, paved with good decisions and not so good decisions.  We live with one foot in God’s kingdom, but the other foot still mired in this world of “not yet.” We journey through our seventy or eighty years knowing that our time here moves faster than we ever thought it would.

A new year is going to bring us all some blessings, some burdens, some joy, and some heartbreak. But only Jesus Christ brings us the forgiveness of our sins. Only Jesus Christ makes us worthy to be called children of God.  Only Jesus Christ makes the number of our days worthwhile, as well as the innumerable days we will spend with Him in the age to come.

 

 

 

January 3, 2017 – Those New Year’s Resolutions! – 2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 7:15-20

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Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!   2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

The new year has begun and so have the fitness commercials- diet plans, exercise equipment, gym memberships.  The marketplace answers to our New Year’s resolutions are out there everywhere- get in shape, unclutter your closet, find true love on some dating website, stop smoking, jumpstart your career, the list goes on.  But most of the time we don’t actually end up doing any of that.  I gave up caffeine once.  It was the worst thirty minutes of my life.

The truth of fallen humanity is this:

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good.  But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.  For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.  Romans 7:15-20 (NRSV)

We have the best intentions, just like all those New Year’s resolutions that more likely as not are completely forgotten by February 1.

It is only by the grace of God that we can do anything, let alone anything good. In Christ we can do all things (Philippians 4:13) but apart from Him we can do nothing.  Let that one sink in.

In Christ we are made new, every day.  Martin Luther taught that we should “put on Baptism every day.”  It’s not just a one time deal that most of us don’t remember if we were baptized as infants.  In the Sacrament of Baptism, Pastor speaks these words as he anoints the person being baptized with oil: “Marked with the Cross of Christ forever.” That marking is an ongoing, dynamic process that starts from that point forward.

Jesus is constantly making us new.  Even when our half-hearted resolutions fail or we fall on our faces.  This new-making process is always going on even in this “not-yet” world.