Helping Yourself in 2010

Posted on 01/03/2010 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***

Public Prayer Requests:

*** no public prayer requests this week ***


Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.




He is the King of Kings
    He is the Lord of Lords
His name is Jesus, Jesus,
    Jesus, Jesus
O, He is the King!

His name is Jesus, Jesus
    sad hearts we've no more
He can heal the broken hearted
    open wide the prison door
And He's able to deliver evermore!


You are beautiful beyond description
     too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
     like nothing ever seen or heard

Who can grasp your infinite wisdom
     who can fathom the depth of your love
You are beautiful beyond description
     majesty enthroned above

I stand, I stand in awe of you
I stand, I stand in awe of you
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of you!


I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say

Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak

I'm finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice

*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***

Just two days ago, we celebrated the day Jesus was born into this earth as a baby, as one of us. Of course December 25th isn't really the day Jesus was born, but that's when we celebrate his birthday.

In just a few days, we'll be celebrating a new year. Many of us will stay up past midnight, so we can see out 2009, and welcome the birth of 2010. You might be one of the millions who will be making new year's resolutions, those well-intentioned promises which you'll probably end up breaking.

Nevertheless, the new year is thought of as a time of new beginnings, of new goals, renewed visions, and the expectation for new things to come.

And it's really no big surprise that our new year comes only one week after we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

For thousands of years, the Jewish people had been awaiting their savior, the one who would deliver them. The prophets foretold of his coming, of his virgin birth, of his sinless life, of the miracles he would perform. They prophecied about his betrayal, his crucifixion, and his resurrection from the dead.

All the things in the Old Covenant, the rituals and ceremonies, the methods of worship, and the animal sacrifices for sin, were shadows of things to come.

In Hebrews 10:1-4 (NKJV), we read this:

1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.
2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.
3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.
4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

The Old Covenant was not enough, for the weight of sin was always there, burdening the soul with a heaviness that could be only partially taken away.

When we think about what a new year will bring, we often think about breaking free from the way things have always been. We might make the determination to stop smoking, to start exercising, to start eating more healthful foods, to start volunteering, or some other change from the way things have always been.

And as the years B.C. came to an end and today's calendar began, as Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God pierced time itself with his tiny human form in that lowly stable that first Christmas morning, his first cry marked the end of the way things had always been, and marked a new beginning.

No longer would the blood of bulls and goats temporarily lighten the load of sin; instead, the blood of the Son of God would completely take that sin away!

Hebrews 10:5-10 (NKJV) says this:

5 Therefore, when (Jesus) came into the world, He said: "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me.
6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.
7 Then I said, 'Behold, I have come -- in the volume of the book it is written of Me -- to do Your will, O God.'"

You see, when Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of God, was laid in the manger, it was because of what he said just a few verses earlier: "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them." And then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God."

And in verse nine, we see that

9b He takes away the first that He may establish the second.
10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

When we make new year's resolutions, we generally don't think about death, unless we're promising to do that one thing we always wanted to do before we die. But we generally don't have the attitude that we must die to the old so that we can live in the new.

But Jesus was born so that he could die, and because of that death, we can have newness of life.

In Matthew 5:17 (NKJV), Jesus says, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill."

You see, Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Everything that was symbolized in the Law, and everything that was foretold in the Prophets, was wearing human flesh.

All the old ways that things had always been, that's what Jesus was. That's what he fulfilled. That's what he embodied. The Law was the expression of the holiness of a perfect God, and Jesus, being that perfect God, was completely holy.

He not only was the expression of the requirements of the Law, he also was the perfect fulfillment of them.

Within that baby lying among the animals in that manger 2,000 years ago, was the very essence of everything that pleased God -- all the requirements for holiness and for pardon from sins.

In John chapter one, we read that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

Jesus was the Word of God. The voice which spoke the words which were written down to form the Holy Scriptures, was lying in a manger.

It's hardly fitting to say the Old Testament is irrelevant, for Jesus WAS and IS those ancient Scriptures, the very Word of God.

But as amazing as that is, as much as that makes us pause and wonder, that wasn't enough. That wasn't enough to change the way things had always been. That wasn't enough to cause the old to give way to the new.

In John 12:24 (NKJV), Jesus says this:

24 "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain."

Jesus was that seed. The Word of God, the Law and the Prophets, all those things which we call the Old Testament, that's who Jesus was.

And just as a seed is placed in the ground and dies, so Jesus, taking on the sins of the world, was placed in the ground as a corpse.

All the requirements of the Old Testament Law were laid in a tomb that day. They were a seed, which the people of God had made into living bread to feed their souls for so many years past. And now, all together in living form and wearing a shell of human flesh, they were put to death and placed into the ground -- the Law and the Prophets, the Torrah, fulfilled in the man Christ Jesus, and burried in the earth, so that they could create something new.

In Lamentations 3:22-23 (KMV*), we read this:

22 It is because of the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions do not fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

You see, for the redeemed, every morning is resurrection morning. That seed of the Law, being ground into flour as He was beaten, broken, and bruised, has become living bread from heaven; and because that seed was layed in the ground and died, that seed of the law, the righteousness of God, became something living and new, so that every single morning of your life, the compassion and mercy of God is brand new. It is as though every day of your life with Jesus is like the day he rose again from the dead!

And it is in this resurrection power we should live, and move, and have our being. The righteousness of God and the requirements of the Law have become the Vine into which you and I have been grafted. And if we stay in him, then every single day of our life is a brand new start!

In John 15:5 (NKJV), Jesus says, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

Who would have thought, who would have imagined, that this tiny baby born in a lowly stable and laid in a feed trough was the seed of the Law, the Bread of Life, and the Lamb of God? And as Jesus entered this world for those few short years, a new day was dawning.

We're always looking for something new -- new age, new spirituality, emergent Christianity -- but I have to wonder if we're not looking for something new because we don't have a living relationship with the living Savior.

Jesus is the only newness there is. Everything else is old. Everything else is recycled. Everything else is, at best, painted and repackaged so we THINK it's something new.

But the compassion and mercy of God IS new, and it is new every morning. The Law of God, fulfilled in Jesus, nailed to the cross with our sins, layed in the ground, and springing forth as the living Vine, gives us fesh, new life every single day we remain in him.

So if you want a change, Jesus IS change. If you want something new, Jesus IS newness of life. There's no need to recreate him. There's no need to repackage him. There's no need to give him a makeover to make him more appealing to the latest flavor of human lusts.

Jesus cannot grow old. Sure, religion will. Calling yourself a Christian or a member of such-and-such a movement will. But Jesus is life. And those who remain in him are always alive, for every day of their life is a fresh beginning.

Do you sometimes feel as though you're in a rut? As though everything in your life is just the same ol' same ol'? Well, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Being unsatisfied with "business as usual" can be a very good thing.

Just maybe you'll use that as motivation to seek a deeper, closer walk with God. Just maybe you'll seek to break through to the next level of living life in the Spirit.

So as the world celebrates a new year, let us celebrate that new beginning whose birth we celebrated two days ago, for as 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KMV*) says, "If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away, and behold, all things are made new."

I'd like to open this altar for a time of prayer, worship, and ministry. If you need to talk with me about anything, I encourage you to instant message me during this time at the altar, since I'll be cutting out right after this time to rejoin with family.

Whenever you need to leave, you're dismissed, and we'll see you next year! After this time at the altar, of course you're all invited to have a time of fellowship in the room to your left, or wherever you like. Once again, I'll be leaving right after this time at the altar.

If you've never had that newness of life that only Jesus can bring, then today is the day of Salvation for you. Just turn away from your own way of living your life, and follow Jesus instead. Ask him to forgive you for your sins, and to make you a child of God. Lots of people will wait for January 1st to turn over a temporarily-new leaf, but your new beginning can start right now, and it can last the rest of your life.

Come to Jesus, and let old things pass away, as he makes all things new!

May God bless you and keep you, and may he make his face to shine upon you. And may he give you peace, as you seek him today and every day with all of your heart.

Come, let's gather at the front, and in this last service of 2009, let's find that newness of life in Jesus!