New Year Sermon: To be on Higher Ground!

How to be on a higher ground?

Joke: An old man moved into a retirement community to spend the rest of his life. There was one lady he was especially attracted to, and she was attracted to him, also. So they spent a lot of time together. Finally one evening he proposed, asking her to marry him.The next morning he woke up remembering his proposal, but he couldn’t remember her answer. So he went to her & said, “I’m really embarrassed. I proposed to you last night but I can’t remember if you said `Yes’ or `No.”’ “Oh, thank goodness!” she replied. “I remembered saying `Yes’ but I couldn’t remember who proposed me.”

Introduction:

We have entered another New Year. Every year comes with its own blessings and promises. Yesterday night we heard that God is willing to take us to a higher ground this year. How do we achieve our promises and be on the higher ground?

Today we are going to see how can we be on the higher ground that God wants us to be in?

We are at the first Sunday of 2012. How well will you do this year? When this year is over, will we be looking back with joy, or with regret? Will we be looking at the future with anticipation, or with dread?

A lot of what God can do in our life depends on our response to God. God has given us a free will to choose to do good or bad, you can either choose to obey God or disobey God. In a matter of 12 months days this year too will be over and what we choose to do will determine how we end this year.

Ephesians 5:15-17 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Apostle Paul in this passage presents some important truths that we need to consider to be on the Higher Ground.

1. Live Wisely

Ephesians 5:15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise.
Somebody say, “Live carefully.”

How did you live in 2011? If we really look back many of us lived unwisely, did many foolish things and displeased God.

How to live wise according to the Bible?
James 3:13-17 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Good Life. 1 Peter 2:12% Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Colossians 4:5-6 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

If you do not life wisely the devil will tempt you and take you down from the Higher Ground.

1 Peter 5:8-9 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

This year let us not compromise on our – Holiness and Christian values and learn to live wisely.

2. Use your Opportunities wisely.

Ephesians 5:15-16 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Make use of all opportunity. Now you may be thinking what opportunity should I look for?

Illustration: In Luke 16:1-15 Jesus tells the parable of the shrewd manager. There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’ The manager was wasting his master’s possessions and so was going to be dismissed. The manager was put into a difficult position and he knew he is going to lose his Job. He wasted a majority of his time but now left with only a short time. He wanted to use that opportunity to retain his job.

The manager comes up with an excellent idea. He calls in the people who owe his master and uses his authority to renegotiate their debt. Soon he was able to gather back possessions. The master commended the dishonest manager because he was clever and used the opportunity given to him. We have wasted a lot of opportunities for God but this year let us use the opportunities for God.

Jesus said that people in this world are clever when it comes to thinking about their future here and making the most of every opportunity. We never miss any opportunity for our promotion, kids and family. Jesus said we should do everything we can here on earth, use all opportunity on earth to prepare for our future in heaven. We have wasted so much of opportunity God has given us for his glory. This year let us use every opportunity for the kingdom.

Illustration: Jesus once went to the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. He sat down to teach, and Mary was sitting right at His feet just getting every word into her heart. Meanwhile, Martha was out in the kitchen preparing dinner for Jesus. Martha gets upset because Mary is not in the kitchen to help her and complains to Jesus about her sister. See what Jesus answered Martha: Luke 10:41-42 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Now listen, was Martha wrong in cooking a good meal for Jesus in the kitchen? Of course not! But here’s the problem. Martha was so preoccupied with what she was doing that she didn’t realize that God was in her house. Martha was caught up in what she did and missed out on the opportunity to hear what God had to say.

That’s the same mistake we make. We get so caught up with our family, so caught up with everything that we miss on the eternal things that God wants you to do which will last for ever. It is not that earthly things are not important; we need to give priority for godly things first.

How can I live wise and make use of Godly opportunities so that I remain on the Higher Ground?

3. Understand God’s Will

Ephesians 5:15-17 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Do not be foolish this year in pursuing your will and end up as a failure. God has a will for you, understand it and do God’s will.

Some people think they need to do many things in life. In the process of doing many things one way will really show up, you choose that way and you do God’s will. Do you think God wants your days and weeks so crowded? How really do I choose to do God’s will?

In order to understand and choose God’s will we need to set certain things right in our life.

4. Have Right Priorities

I would like to list you some priorities that I use to discern God’s will.
a. Put God First. As you are all in the church today I believe God is an integral part of your life. Therefore in whatever you do place God first. When God is in our priority list it affects our decisions, our relationships, and our total outlook on life.

b. Daily Devotion. Schedule some definite time each day to pray & to read His Word. Have a family prayer. Pray for yourself, for your family, for people around you. Pray for the church, missions, & for the missionaries.

c. Quality Family Time. Spend quality time with your family. Every husband here ought to talk to your wife everyday. Every wife need to make time for your husband everyday. A time with just the two of you and you don’t have anything else to interfere. It is also very important that both husband and wife spend time with your children. They’re growing up. These are precious moments of growth. Make sure that your family is very high on your priority list.

d. Hard Work. Majority of us work here. Work hard where God has placed you. As Christians we have a responsibility to the Lord to honor Him even in our workplace. Do not neglect your Sunday worship unless it is unavoidable.

These are a few priorities of mine and you need to custom make a priority list for you.

e. Enjoy Everyday.
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Once your priorities are ready, learn how to live every day. Some people spoil their day worrying about the past. Yet there are some who spoil their day being anxious about the future. Do not live in the past or future, learn to live today happily.

Illustration: A girl who went to college & just hated studying. She told herself, “If I can ever get out of college & get married & have children, I know I’ll finally be able to enjoy life.” She went to classes every day & finally graduated from college. Then she got married & had children, & discovered that children are a lot of work. So she told herself, “If I can just get these kids raised, then I’ll be able to relax & really enjoy life.”

But about the time the kids were entering school her husband said, “Guess what? We don’t have enough money to send our kids to college. I guess you’ll have to get a job.” Well, she didn’t want to, but she knew he was right & they needed the money, so she went to work and she hated it. But she told herself, “If I can just get these kids out of college, and get them married then I can quit work & really enjoy life with my husband.”

Finally, the children graduated and got married. She had to work one more year to pay off her loans. When she was finally putting down her papers thinking she can enjoy the rest of her life, she got the good news that her daughters were pregnant. She finally left her job to baby-sit her grandchildren.

Now is the time to enjoy. Do not ever postpone your joy and enjoyment for tomorrow thinking things will be fine. Learn to enjoy every day.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

As you prioritize and learn to enjoy everyday in the framework of the Word of God, God will lead and guide you to his will in your life. You will be in a better position to understand and choose the perfect will of God. Prioritize to be on the higher ground.

Conclusion:

Remember you are your choices. Let us not be foolish in choosing wrong and end up as a failure this year. Let us live wisely to be on that higher ground. I prophesy 2012 is going to be an exceptional year. He is going to fulfill His promises and take you to the higher ground or the higher level.


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