Happy New Year!
Many of you will participate in the common traditions of attending parties tonight and eating special New Year’s food.
Then at 11:59 p.m. more than one billion people from all over the world will tune in to see the sparkling Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball drop and welcome in 2024
There are some things I already know about the coming year:
· If you are in Christ, God will be in your 2024.
· You will change. We all will change in the coming year.
o The you sitting here this morning will be new in the coming year.
But here’s the question: Will that change align with God’s plan for you?
“New Year, New You” isn’t just a catchy slogan; it’s an invitation to embrace God’s plan for your life.
There are three types of people here today:
· The Christian who is walking with Jesus
· The person who has fallen away from Christ
· And the person who has never accepted Jesus as Lord.
God loves you! He has a plan for your life. You can make a difference in this world when you trust in the Lord.
As we get ready for the new year, are you willing to be made new?
A new beginning means that you are allowing yourself to accept changes; that reflect HIS plan and not yours. GOOD changes.
The old self, the old life, has failures that are in the past. The things of the past do not have to define who you are today.
I love God’s word as it is filled with truth for you, and you,
and you, and for me.
The Bible says in Ephesians 3:20, He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.
Wow! More than we might ask or think. That sounds impossible, right?
How can that be when we are people who constantly ask, and think about the things that we want?
A lot is going to happen this year; some you’ll expect, and some you won’t.
God is sovereign. He knows all things, and He has a promise for you and for me, and it’s worth repeating,
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
That is a promise for you and for me.
PUT YOUR NAME in that scripture. It is a promise for you!
God has good plans for you. God desires a brand new you, in a brand-new year. God desires to transform you from the inside out.
But it is a choice YOU MUST MAKE.
The Bible says, 22 to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
The Apostle Paul wrote the book of Ephesians during his imprisonment in Rome, approximately A.D. 60.
It is a letter written to the church at Ephesus, and to all believers today to strengthen the church.
Ephesians is a letter of encouragement.
The Bible states that there is an old self that people have which needs to be done away with.
We are to throw off the old self.
And put on the new self.
Our old way of life before Jesus living in our heart is completely in the past.
Paul uses the metaphor of ‘throwing off the old self’ just like taking off old clothes that should be thrown away.
Paul is speaking to the believers. The nature of the old self is sometimes associated in scripture with the term ‘sarx’ or ‘flesh’.
Sarx is used to describe the weak, frail, mortal flesh of the sinful nature of the old self.
It is a self that is focused on this world as its top priority.
Although God is a priority, He is not the top priority.
Unfortunately many people who call themselves Christians get wrapped up in the affairs of this world and lose keeping a heavenly focus on Christ.
What kind of Christian are you?
Are you wrapped up in the affairs of this world OR are you focused on Christ?
We are told to put off our former way of life, the old self. The Greek word that the English translations render “put off” is a word that is used for setting aside clothing.
We can all agree that in this world clothing matters.
We have heard the sayings:
· Dress for success
· Clothes make the man or clothes make the woman
Our clothes make a statement about us. Clothes often reflect your profession, your values, and even your social status.
Paul tells us that we have to lay the old self aside because it is corrupted by deceitful desires. Our desires are lying to us.
They are telling you that you will be happy if you obey your desires. They are telling you:
· If it feels good, do it.
· If you could just do what you feel like doing, it would fix everything.
I am sure you have heard the saying:
“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”
Putting off the old self is not just changing a few things in your life or changing a behavior or two.
Putting off these clothes means getting rid of the whole way of how we use to do things.
Within the last 3 weeks, Thomas and I have had vehicle problems.
· First the radiator went out of my car.
· Second the brakes went out of his car.
· Third the alternator went out of my car.
These were long hard jobs that required hard work, and Thomas’ clothes got extremely dirty and greasy.
Thomas took a shower after working on the vehicles each day. And when he got out of the shower, he put on clean clothes. Then he sat down to eat dinner with clean clothes on.
Putting on clean clothes goes without saying. Right?
Seriously, would you work on a vehicle all day, get greasy, take a shower and afterwards put the same dirty, greasy clothes back on?
I DON’T think so.
Nor should a Christian put on the old ways.
‘Life is short’.
As followers of Christ living the Christian life is:
· Both a onetime decision – some of you have already made that decision. Others may not have.
· But it is also making a decision for Christ in the ordinary seconds, the minutes, hours, weeks, and years. It is always a conscience commitment to serve Jesus.
o He will unfold the new in you – if you are willing.
My hope is that as you begin this new year of 2024, rather than making New Year’s resolutions, stop and think about a new you in Christ.
New clothes are sometimes stiff. They do not feel as comfortable. But Paul is giving us a picture that we need to get rid of the old clothes.
Two questions that you should ask yourself for the new year:
1. What do I need to put off?
2. What do I need to put on?
Make the choice that you are going to get rid of how you think about life.
· Stop doing things because that is the way you have always done it.
· Stop doing things because that is the way your family or friends do it.
Commit to putting off the old way of life, taking off the old clothes and throwing them away.
Leave the past behind!
Put on the new you in the new year!
Verse 23 says “and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,”
It is important that we have an attitude change. We need to have a new way of thinking about things.
We can’t just put on a new set of clothes without a new renewing of your mind,
a new way of thinking about things.
It is impossible to change our behavior without changing our thoughts and
the way we think about things.
A transformation takes place from the inside out, it is the renewing of our heart, mind and soul, and it is a constant process.
When transformation takes place inside of us:
· Rather than laughing about an unclean joke, we run it through the filter of Christ. WWJD? What would Jesus do?
· Rather than listening to what folks are saying about someone and participating in gossip, we run our words of response through the filter of Christ. WWJD? What would Jesus do?
Start asking the question, “What would Jesus do?” and then let that be your answer.”
Our old clothes feel good.
They feel comfortable.
And so often it is easy to justify putting on the old self because of our circumstances.
I will say it again, always stop and ask the question, “What would Jesus do?”
Rather than collapsing to what our desires tell us to do, stop and run your desires through the filter of Christ.
Listening to what you think and your emotions, without running things through the filter of Christ is what the world tells you to do, and it is putting back on the old self clothes.
Doing this will ruin our lives and go against the ‘good plans’ and the ‘purpose’ of what God has promised for your life.
What is good and holy is only seen through the filter of Christ.
Verse 24: 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Truly knowing Jesus only comes to the new self. There is a distinct difference between knowing about someone and truly knowing someone.
Similarly, there are many people today who know a lot about Jesus without having a relationship with Him, without being transformed from the inside out.
A transformed heart brings new thinking. It is the new thinking that allows the new clothes to be put on.
When we run everything through the filter of Christ, our life changes.
· We begin to see others through the eyes of Christ.
· The choices we make, and the words we speak will be totally different as we run things through the filter of Christ.
I know that when I put on new clothes, I always stop to see what they look like in the mirror.
Paul is talking about the new clothes that are created in the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
We are to be imitators of Christ to the world through our thinking and actions.
34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
The point in putting on new clothes is so we may be imitators of Christ.
Jesus is calling for a specific decision by everyone in this room. As a believer, He is calling you to take off the old and to put on the new.
I want you to meet, Nick Viujicic.
I met Nick over 10 years ago at our Harrisonburg Campus.
All Nick wants is God’s plan for his life. And, as you’ll see. That hasn’t been easy.
As you prepare for the new year, ask yourself these questions:
· What do I need to put off?
· What do I need to put on?
Today you can throw off the old self and put on the new.
If you know Jesus, this is about where He wants to take you in the coming year – how you can grow closer to Him and more like Him.
But perhaps you don’t know Him…
There is no easier time than now, in this place to make your decision to live your life trusting God that He has good plans for your life, and He has a future of hope and not disaster for YOU.
Today you can ask Jesus to forgive you for wearing the old clothes.
You can ask Him to come live in your heart.
And to help you to have a change by putting on the new clothes, with a change of your thinking and behaving.
Jesus will meet you exactly where you are. Choose Jesus to help you change your thinking, values, and your motives.
When you are transformed, He is continuing to form you in His image.
· The liberation of the Holy Spirit living in you begins to change the world of all those around you.
· You become contagious. People want what you have.
When you turn to God in obedience, the world’s influences diminish.
Have you trusted Jesus for your salvation? Have you experienced the mercies of His love?
Are you trusting God that He has a good plan for your life with a future of hope and not disaster?
Let us pray: All eyes closed.
“Dear Lord You are calling everyone in this room to a life of transformation. You desire for us to have a closer walk with You. We are here today not by accident. Father, we desire to do more than say New Year’s resolutions. Please help us Lord. Today we have heard words of Hope.
Father, You are calling us to throw off the old self, and put on the new so that we may be imitators of You to our family, to the people we work with, to the person that cuts us off on highway 33, to everyone. You desire for us not to look and act like the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Help us to trust You. Lord, not our will but Your will be done. Your ways are best even when we do not understand. Lord help believers not to be afraid to say “Yes Lord.” Help us to be imitators of You.
I am speaking to three groups of people:
1. Today, you are a Christian and you are thankful for your salvation. However, today, God has spoken to your heart about something that you need to throw off, something that belongs in the past, God desires a new you. If that is you, surrender it to Jesus and say, “I am taking off this old self, and I need Your help to keep it off” please slip up your hand now.
2. Today, you are someone that once was a Christian. You know that you have fallen away from your walk with God. You were once walking with clean clothes, and because of the things in the world, life circumstances, you have returned to what is comfortable, what is easy, you have put on the old clothes. You have returned to your old ways of life and it is hurting Jesus. Today you want to surrender to God and say, “I am taking off this old self, and I need Your help to keep it off” please slip up your hand now.
3. Today, you are someone who has never taken off the old clothes. You have heard this message today and it has spoken loudly to your heart. You want to take off the old ways and to live your life trusting God, that He has a good plan for your life, with a future of hope and not disaster. Today you are asking God to forgive you for the things you have done that have hurt Him. Today you are asking God to ‘Come live in your heart’. Conform me, transform my heart and mind. Please change me today and continue to change me to be like You. I need Your help. I want to change. If that is you, and you want to invite God to come live in your heart, to turn you from things that are wrong in your life, to take off the old clothes and put on the new, please slip up your hand now.
Today and every day for the believer can be a new start.
No matter what your past looks like – your future can be bright. And I’m living proof of that.
Father, we thank You for the decisions that were made this morning. Please help me, and my church family to be ‘Transformed by You so that I will, we will BRING hope to others through You.’ Please help us to share Your love with everyone we know and that we will meet. We love You Lord, In Jesus Name we pray. Amen.”