Take your Bible this morning, if you would please, and turn to the book of Colossians chapter 3. And thank God for a song about surrender. And, of course, we're not complete without the Lord completing us. And I do want to mention a couple of things while you're finding the book of Colossians chapter 3.
Today in the lobby we have some things that I'd like to recommend for your new year. I don't know why, but seems like this week I have had more people call me or email me and say, "Pastor Chappell, Brother Chappell, what are some things that you read last year, or that you're reading?" It seems like a lot of folks are getting lined out for the new year for some goals and maybe some things to read. And I want to mention to our church family a couple of things that I want to recommend.
First of all, a brand new devotional that just came in about a week or two ago for the new year; and we've been shipping these to churches all over the country. But I want our church family to have opportunity to receive this this morning. It's entitled Trust and Obey. This is a daily devotional guide. And, look, use whatever you want to use.
How many of you subscribe to the Daily in the Word online devotional that we send out? Let me see; all right. So many of you do that. If you don't do that, jot that down: dailyintheword.org. And you can subscribe to something that'll come to your computer, or you can put this big book right here somewhere in your house where you'll see it every day. And there's 365 devotionals here, and we've written one for every day with a Scripture reading schedule. And this is something just to help you stay in the Word for the new year.
You know, some people, they belittle New Year's resolutions. And certainly a resolution can by something that isn't a great impact if you don't have an intrinsic value behind it, if you don't have a transformational reason. But if you have in your heart a great desire to draw close to the Lord, and if there's a conviction in your heart that a Christian should spend time in the Word of God, then resolutions absolutely work. And I want to encourage you, this would be a help to you if you have a desire to spend some time daily with Jesus; and it's a new devotional entitled Trust and Obey.
Then something that I'm going to go back through myself – I have some material that we put together a few years ago – is a book entitled Stewarding Life. And this is a great book on finding priorities, setting goals, stewarding your life, your testimony, your friendships, your finances, your health. It's all about taking this next year and giving it to the Lord Jesus Christ completely. And I would really recommend this.
Along with it we have a companion guide out in the lobby this morning called The Stewarding Life Planner. The Stewarding Life Planner has also one page per day where you review the roles of your life, you pray over each role specifically, you jot down what Scriptures you've read, you write down what you're thankful for that day. There's about 50 pages to explain this journal, and then the rest of it are pages to use throughout the year. If you've never journaled in the new year, if you've never been in the habit of writing some of your roles, goals, and daily thoughts as the Lord leads you through Scripture, let me encourage you to stop by the table. And these are some great resources to help you start the new year.
Well, let's stand together. I hope you will stop by and receive those in the back there; and I know there's some staff there ready to help you with those on the way out.
Now, I don't know if we have a camera that can help me get this up on the screen, but I just wanted to show this. You guys got this? I don't know how good you can zoom in or not. And if you could read it, it's kind of written in cursive here.
I picked this up at the Cracker Barrel in Glendale, Arizona. I took my parents there to lunch the other day. And my mom, of course, has Alzheimer's; she wasn't really sure who I was. But one thing with Alzheimer's she really still loves is pancakes, whipped cream, and boysenberry syrup. And so, I figured that out, and she eats every bit of it. She loves that.
But this little sign, I brought it just for you this morning, because I know how it is. This is the Sunday between, right? This is what it says: "Can I get an amen?" And I thought, "You know what, that's pretty good." So I think I might for the new year just put it right here. How's that sound, all right? Can I get an amen?
So if you guys aren't with me during this sermon I'm pulling it out, all right? I'm going to pull it out. And if you see it like this, that means, "Come on, let's get with the program, all right?" Can I get an amen? "Amen!" All right. That helps out if you're a visitor. Amen means we agree; and we like to agree around here when it comes to the Bible. So hopefully we'll stay right in tune.
And I've got to pull this little shelf up here just a little bit, and so let me get that a little bit closer. We're going to do some housecleaning this morning. All right.
Colossians chapter 3, and we're going to read beginning in verse 16, a familiar verse. And, in fact, we preached some from this earlier in the year, but I want to preach from 16 and 17, and I would like to preach this morning on the subject "A Purpose for the New Year," just a purpose to keep for the new year.
Colossians 3:16-17, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
Let's read verse 17 together. Ready, begin: "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." All right, let's pray together.
Lord, thank you for the wonderful opportunity you give us to worship you on the first day of the week. And, Lord, this is the first day of the last week of 2018, and we just want to thank you for bringing us through this year, for giving us grace and strength. And we pray that you would bless the new year, Lord, that you would give us grace and wisdom as we approach it, and that we would not waste a day of it, but that we would live all of this new year with the purpose we see in these verses this morning. And I pray and ask these things in Jesus' name. Amen. You may be seated.
Well, how many of you have ever seen the show Hoarders? Let me see. Any of you ever seen the show Hoarders? All right. All right. How many of you are hoarders? Let me see where you are. All right, I thought so. I've been by your house, you've got three cars on the front lawn; we picked you out real easily.
And so, this is that time of year for me when I kind of get into a weird mood. Terrie says I get weird during this time between Christmas and New Year, because I like to get organized for the new year. It's just kind of the way I am, and I start looking at things and trying to figure out, "Do I really need that?" and you know, "Is this something that you really need to keep?" because, for example, if you have to go through things in your closet, if you have 40 ties but you only wear 12 of them, you know, you really ought to look at that once in a while. And sometimes I bequeath them to Bible college students and share the wealth a little bit and try to get organized as best I can.
In fact, I kind of brought some things with me to church today, because I've been struggling with this a little bit. And I took it all off the shelf already. I brought some things that maybe you could help me with. Just every year. And I mean, right now if you were to go to my house you'd find that I have a little office area where I study and try to keep organized; everything's out of the closet in there and all over the floor. My closet at home, everything's out, and the shelves there in the bathroom, or I have different items of cologne and deodorant and so forth; I pulled it all out, and the shampoo and everything.
And when Terrie walked by yesterday and she saw everything out of the closet she just rolled her eyes. And I know what she was thinking, "Here we go again. Here we go again." But you know, I just get in that mood to get organized. So I just thought I'd get some help from you, because there's just things that you find and you're not really sure.
For example, I found this thing in the closet. How many of you remember the Palm 5? How many remember that? How many of you ever had; any of you had one of these? This is kind of like before the cell phone. And I was looking at this and I was really trying to bade it, and I pulled it down off the shelves and I was trying to debate, "Do I really need this or not? I don't think I do. I haven't used it in probably 15 years. The battery doesn't work." But I thought I'd better bring it to church, because somebody in here might say, "Pastor, that thing's worth $5,000.00. Those are hard to get ahold of, you know. Don't do anything with it."
We actually had one of the very early Apple computers, we actually had one of those. Now it was not mine personally, but it was something that the church had given to us, and we have no idea where it is now. And the guy that gave it actually called and said, "Do you guys still have that?" I found out it was worth a lot of money, and I think we threw it away during a between Christmas and New Year.
But anyways, this is a Palm 5. So I'm kind of trying to figure out what to do with it. I'm not going to throw it away right now, because if somebody comes up to me and says, "Hey, that's worth a lot of money. Hey, I'll sell it; we'll give it at the March banquet for the Children's Building."
Here's something else though I'm trying to figure out. This is a proven performance superior ink cartridge for a very old printer that we no longer own. It's kind of a dilemma: you know you paid money for it, you don't even have the printer anymore, they probably don't make the printer anymore. But you look at something like that and you're just not a hundred percent sure of exactly what to do.
Then you look at something like this. This is a checkbook holder. And here's the thing: how many of you are like me? You rarely use checks, and you definitely don't have plastic vinyl checkbook holders anymore. So that one's probably definitely going in the garbage.
Here's another kind of a little bit of a dilemma that I just, every year for 20 years I've look at this thing every single year. This is my seven dwarfs tie. Guys, can we get a closeup of this? I think folks need to appreciate this just for a minute. Get a good angle on it here and let me turn the tie here: seven dwarfs. There's one of the dwarfs right there. And the reason I struggle with this particular issue is because the girls loved it when they were growing up, and they always said, "Dad, wear the seven dwarfs tie." And every year I'm going through the tie going, "Nope, I don't need that one, that color doesn't work."
And then I see that and I think of Kristine, and I always think, "You know, Kristine loved that tie. And one day, I know she's 34, but one day I'm going to take her on a date and I'm going to wear this tie just for Kristine." She probably never has thought of it since she was 10, you know. But anyways, you know, it's kind of – what is it – kind of an emotional baggage issue maybe. So not sure if I'll throw that away or not.
Now here. Here is my seventh grade letter for football. You know, a lettering for football's a big deal, let's be honest about that, you know. But really, what do you do with that except keep it on a shelf? Several of these men are like, "Keep it. Keep it. Oh, yeah." Some others are going, "Wear it, dude." I understand that. But every time I see these things I'm going, "You really…"
Then here's my ninth grade Liberty Christian School football letter. I really expected some more amens right about this part of the message right here. And some of you are with me. You're looking at that and you're going, "I don't really know that that's really needed, Pastor, that you need to keep that stuff."
And I'm kind of with you on that, because you look at some of this and you kind of go, "You know, I'm not sure that that's going to be real helpful to go through that every time I go through the file or every time I'm looking at the shelf." I don't know if you need to be reminded that you lettered in seventh grade football, unless you're such a loser that that was your one thing in life that you did. You know, maybe put that front and center, frame that baby, I don't know.
But I do know this, that in the spiritual realm there comes a time for each of us to take inventory of our hearts, and there comes a time for each of us to say, "Lord, search my heart. Try me and show me." And essentially what we say to the Lord is, "Lord, what do you want to take out of my heart as that which is unnecessary, or maybe in some closets even something that is sinful? And, Lord, what is it that you want me to give prominence in my heart? What is it that you want me to keep in my heart?"
So today we're going to take just a few moments and we're going to do some inventory, because we don't want to enter the new year just carrying a lot of junk. We don't want to enter the new year without doing a spiritual inventory of, "What is the purpose behind these things that we keep?" and "What are the things that we should take along with us on the journey of this new year?"
Now the Bible says in verse 16 very clearly, "Let the word of Christ dwell. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom." So I want to propose to you this morning that as you're going through stuff that you're not going to give time or attention to, and as you're considering what will you give time and attention to, that by all means that you pull God's word off and you determine, "I'm going to take God's word out of this pile of stuff and I am going to give God's word priority and preeminence in my life this year. I am going to let God's word have its rightful, prominent place in my life this new year."
When I was given my first Bible I was maybe five or six, and there was a little note that the Sunday school teacher inscribed in the Bible, and the note was simply this: "Sin will keep you from this Book, or this Book will keep you from sin." In other words, make the Bible the priority in the new year.
Now notice the phrase here in verse 16. It says, "Let the word of Christ." And so, I want you to know that this word is an infallible word. It is the word of Christ, it refers to the revelation that he brought into the world through the Scripture. It is not the word of man, which is very fallible, it is the word of Christ which is perfect. Proverbs says, "Every word of the Lord is pure; he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him." The Bible says, "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth."
Now there's a lot of books in my library, thousands and thousands of them; and there are many books that I have read once, and some that I have read maybe 12 or 15 times through. But there are some books that, frankly, as I look at them, they're just taking space on the shelf; and in fact, every one of those books I could probably do without.
But there is one book that I cannot live without and that is God's Word. And as a Christian we must say, "Lord, help me not to let the stuff of life crowd out your Word. Help me not to put sports and tech and all the other interests of life, and help me not to let those things crowd out the Word of God, which should have a very prominent place in my life."
It's an infallible word. But it must also be an indwelling word. It says, "Let the word of Christ dwell." This is to be a constant dwelling. In other words, I thank God that you're here today on a Sunday; and we've got a great service planned tonight. And we have a philosophy around here: "three to thrive." And Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night we've got good food spiritually in every one of these services.
But you're going to need even more than that. You're going to need to dwell in God's Word on a daily basis; so having the Scriptures in your heart. It may be that you take one of these daily devotionals. And I'm always amazed that when I read God's Word in the morning, normally through the day there's just something that comes into my life, and God's Word is so applicable. I've got to let it dwell in my heart.
And so, "The actual teaching," Henry Ironside said, "the actual teaching of Christ where they're personally here on earth or by the Spirit since he has ascended to heaven is to dwell full measure in every believer." This should be our goal and this should be our desire in the new year.
Deuteronomy 17:18 says this, "And it shall be," this was written to the kings of Israel, "and it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of his law and these statues, to do them: that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel."
Now God actually said to the Jews and to the kings, he said, "I want you literally to write a copy of my law. I want you as the king to write out the copy of my law. I want you to know it."
By the way, one of the best ways to really let God's word dwell in your heart is to write out in a journal what you have read and what you have learned. Some people actually write out verses of the Bible, many of them as a part of their devotional life. And I don't know if you're this way or not. But when I type certain things I have a certain amount of retention; but I seem to do better when I actually cursively write out something that I'm studying. It helps me to retain that knowledge. Now, folks, whatever you have to do to let the word of God dwell in you, then I want to encourage you to read, to write, to hear it. However you learn best, let God's word dwell in your heart.
Now I think of so many who have false teachings and they meditate on them, and it is so ruinous to them spiritually. I think of Saddam Hussein years ago who literally had a copy of the Quran written in his own blood. And there's actually a museum in Bagdad; I think they're trying to figure out what to do with it. I mean, this man literally took blood from his own body and had a copy of the Quran written out with his blood.
And what I want to say to you is that if men and women with such damnable beliefs and doctrines and a book that is degrading to the doctrine of Christ and never mentions the word "love" one time, if someone would take their own blood and transcribe that, how about if we put a little sweat into studying to know the word of God, and knowing the love of God and the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God says, "Let it dwell in you."
Acts 17:11 the Bible says, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." The Berean Christians, they searched the Scriptures. They spent time in the Word of God. George Müller said, "The vigor of our spiritual life will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Bible in our life and in our thoughts."
How many of you remember this verse from the book of Psalms, Psalm 1:2? The Bible says, "But his delight is in the," what, "law of the Lord; and in his law doth he," what, "meditate both day and night."
I get tickled with these kind of New Age teachers, these crystal gazers, and they want to talk about meditating, and they've heard some guy from India, some guru talk about meditating and sitting around on a rock and saying, "Hmm," like that. Listen, meditation is fine so long as the object is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God.
Meditation's nothing new to us as Christians. God says, "I want you to read my word, then I want you to meditate on it. I want you to think about it. I want you to let it sink down into your heart and into your life."
You know, I think about the way that folks are so involved, many of us, with using technology. And in many ways it's a blessing; and the cell phones and the emails and the texting. And sometimes it's hard even to keep up with, and it can actually form sort of compulsive behavior if we're not careful, just spending a lot of time checking stuff that may or may not be important, stuff that you probably weren't checking five years ago in this information age. There's just so much pouring out.
And I wonder, and I came across a little article, and I thought it really gave an analogy regarding the cell phone and the Word of God. The article said, "I wonder what would happen if we treated our Bibles like our cell phones. What if we carried it around in our purses and pockets? What if we flipped through it several times a day? What if we'd turn back to get it if we forgot it? What if we used it to receive messages from the text? What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it? What if we gave it to kids as gifts? What if we used it when we traveled? What if we used it in case of emergency?"
This is something to make you think this morning. How is your relationship with the Bible, with God's Word? Are you giving it the priority that it deserves? Most of us give that phone a priority, but God says, "Let my word dwell in you richly." Just checking, all right. Got a little quiet there, got a little quiet.
"Let my word dwell in you richly." So there must be a constant dwelling, and then there must be an abundant dwelling. Notice this here. It says, "Let my word dwell in you," and then notice that word, "richly." It's to be an extravagance.
You see, the average Facebook user in America is spending between an hour and two hours a day just checking out lots of times just really weird stuff, weird people, weird comments, angry comments. Sometimes there's some good stuff, I know. But my point is this: if we see folks spending an hour or two hours looking at just stuff on Facebook, how about this year spending time looking into his face, just saying, "I've got to get this back in proportion."
And I find it's easy to tell the teenagers they're addicted. But sometimes we as adults, you know. In fact, I've already determined we're going to come into our first staff meeting with our pastoral staff this Friday. I've already got a little basket prepared. Don't tell them what I'm going to do. And this is what I'm going to do for our first staff meeting of the new year. I'm going to say, "That basket right over there is for your laptops and your phones. We're actually going to look at each other while we talk today." How many of you would say that would be good for your family dinnertime, too, right?
What I'm saying is, in fact, Terrie and I the other night we were at a restaurant and having some wonton soup; and we're sitting there having our soup, and we were talking about some things; and we had our phones. We were having a good conversation, and I said, "Honey, look at the table next to us." There were four adults at the table; all four of them were looking at their phones, not looking at each other, not talking to each other. It appeared to be a grandparent, maybe a grandchild, maybe the parents of a child, and all of them looking at the phones.
And I'm just advocating this this morning that we need to take time in his Book in the new year. Let God's word dwell in us. Let God's word be the priority. And so, we need a word to guide this year. We need a word to guide.
I want you to notice, secondly, we need a name to honor. We need a name to honor. Now in verse 16 the Bible tells us to let the word of Christ dwell. But notice in verse 17, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus."
Now I believe we serve a God in heaven who wants to bless the people of this church this morning. I believe he wants to bless us in many various ways. But I know that he is jealous for his own glory and honor, and he's not going to bless those who don't bless him. And so, God says, "Whatever you do, I want you to do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."
Now I want you to think about this this morning. Notice this phrase here, "Whatsoever ye do." Would you say that with me today? "Whatsoever ye do." Say it again, "Whatsoever ye do. Whatsoever you do." Whatever you do, I want you to do it in the name and for the honor of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now perhaps some of us could think about our roles this morning. Some of you are a husband or a wife. Some of you are a mother or a father. Some of you would say, "I'm a grandparent." Some of all of us, Lord willing, would say, "I'm a Christian." Some, perhaps, need to be able to say that before the end of this service.
Some would say, "I'm an engineer." Some would say, "I'm an officer." Some would say, "I'm a nurse." Some would say, "I am a contractor," whatever it is. And I want to challenge you that whatever your roles are and whatever you do in those roles this year, that you have this viewpoint of life: "I want to do everything I do this year for the name and for the honor of the Lord Jesus Christ. I want this to be all about the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to bring honor and glory to his name."
And so that's the next thought. I want you to realize that everything we do this year is for the name and the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. And I want us to say, "Lord, be glorified in my life. I want Jesus Christ to be known in my life. I want people to know that when I receive a promotion, I want people to know that when I am blessed that it's all because of Jesus Christ, and that I'm doing all of it for Jesus Christ.
"I'm glad that the boss is happy; but I didn't do it primarily for the boss, I did it for Jesus. And I'm glad that my wife is seeing an improvement in our marriage; but I'm not doing it for her, I'm doing it for Jesus Christ. And I'm glad my husband sees that my spirit is different; but I'm not doing it for my husband, because my husband might discourage me in the new year. But Jesus never discourages me. So whatever I do in the new year, I'm going to do it for the Lord Jesus Christ."
And so, let me challenge you, first of all, to honor Christ this year in all that you do, everything that we do. First Corinthians 10:31, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink or whatsoever ye do, do it all to the glory of God."
Now in our family we try to teach our children to honor their family name. And yet, how much more should they give honor to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ? And I'm saying today that every one of us should have this goal: "Lord, I want you to be glorified through my life in the new year. I want you to be pleased."
You know, you can dishonor your family name in just a quick moment of failure? But something even greater than this is when we dishonor the name of the Lord. We don't want to bring dishonor to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in the new year. And so whatever you do – in word, the things that you say; in deed, the actions of the new year – that we would have this purpose: "Lord, I want to honor you."
In fact, again it says that we should honor Christ in all things: honor Christ, and honor Christ in all things. "Whatever ye do in your word," that is what is what you say. Let your speech be always seasoned with grace, "in your deed," that is what you do. The Bible says in James 1:22, "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."
Robert Moffett said, "We'll have all eternity to celebrate our victories, but only one short hour before sunset to win them." Folks, life is but a vapor. We have just a short time to honor Jesus Christ. We can high-five when we get to heaven, but let's spend time now honoring the Lord Jesus Christ. First John 3:18, "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."
And so, I want to challenge you this year; make a priority list. And I want you, first of all, to say, "I need a word to guide me this year. I need God's word to guide me this year. And I have a name to honor this year and that is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And there's a lot of other stuff in my closet, a lot of other stuff in my life, but it pales in significance. Some of it I'll keep, some of it I'll throw away. But what am I going to give preeminence to this year? And that will be God's word dwelling in my heart, the name of Jesus Christ magnified through my life."
And then notice, thirdly, this morning, we need to recognize and purpose that we have a God to thank. And here I want to speak about gratitude. Notice, if you would, in verse 17, "And whatsoever ye do, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." Would you say that last portion of verse 17? Ready, begin, "giving thanks to God and the Father by him, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
I want to challenge you this morning to purpose in your life in the new year to live a life of gratitude, to purpose to live a life of gratitude, that you would say, "I'm going to keep gratitude as a priority in my life." I'll see if I can get this up here to stay still; I don't have a thing on the back of it, let's see here. Now if I just preach real gingerly that's going to work out just fine this morning. Gratitude.
Now notice the Bible is clear in verse 17, "giving thanks to God." Folks, I think one of the greatest sins of Christians in America today is ingratitude. I think it's one of the reasons we complain, we're depressed. I think it's one of the reasons we struggle so oftentimes. Gratitude is something that we need to have a better perspective on.
I was thinking about this past Sunday night, I went over and I was fellowshipping December 23rd with some of the folks in our Spanish department. And they have over there around Christmas and different holidays and birthdays, they get to have piñatas. We don't have piñatas; and so I figured out that they have piñatas. And so I asked our Spanish pastor, I said, "Hey, are you guys doing piñatas on Sunday night," I said, "because I want to come over and smack one of those things, you know."
And so, I went over there and I got to hit the piñata first, you know, and got the candy going for the kids, and we were having a good time, and I was just fellowshipping with some of the folks. And I hear about prayer requests from people in different departments of our church, but I don't always get to meet them and speak to those in the Spanish as much.
And there was a lady that came up to me, Iris Oriana, and she was wearing a scarf, her hair completely gone from chemo; and she's battling breast cancer that has metastasized. And she just – she came up, and I thought she was going to come and ask for prayer. And certainly, we've been praying for her in our staff meetings, and I've been praying for her all this week. But she didn't come to ask me for prayer, she came to say how thankful she is to the Lord for her salvation and for Lancaster Baptist Church.
And I just kind of stood there. I didn't really know what to say, because sometimes in a given 12 months you deal with people who complain about a parking lot, they didn't get their parking spot, or their kid didn't get a junior high letter in football. That's just going to cause him stress when he's 57 anyways; what does he do with it?
And we deal with all this stuff. And here's someone who's really in the throes of a difficult battle with cancer, giving thanks. And I'm telling you, when I stand in the presence of some of our church members, I feel like just a little baby Christian sometimes. To see God in their lives and to hear the gratitude from her mouth, I think about John Tanner.
Terrie and I spent yesterday with their family, and just praying with John's parents and with John and his wife Jessie. Very rare, aggressive cancer. He needs our prayers. And he just gave thanks to the Lord. The whole time we were there he gave thanks to the Lord. A young highway patrol officer, a few months ago a picture of health; today in a great battle. Pray for him.
I think, folks, sometimes we forget to give thanks to the Lord for the fact that we could get out of bed today. We forget to give thanks to the Lord that we have the freedoms and the privileges and the opportunity to sing; and we could on and on. And the Bible says to give thanks to God for the Lord Jesus Christ and for these blessings.
He says, first of all, "I want you to have a response of gratitude." This is the fifth reference to thanksgiving in the book of Colossians. God says, "I want you to give thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." In other words, give thanks to the God who saved you."
If you are Christian this morning, you and I deserve one thing and that is a one-way ticket to hell. And we were on our way to hell, and we were without hope and we were without God. And yet God in his love and in his rich mercy, he saved us, and he's given us hope, and he's given us a home in heaven; and that ought to cause us every day to give thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ, that he has made us to be a partaker of this heavenly promise.
And then not only should there be a response of gratitude, but there should be an access of mercy. And what I mean here is the Bible says in verse 17, did you catch this phrase, "giving thanks to God and the Father," notice this little phrase, "by him." We give thanks to God by or through the access of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How many of you know that Jesus the High Priest? That's why Baptists do not go into a confessional booth and tell the priests like a Catholic might do. We don't tell the priest our prayers so that he can get them up to God, we go to God directly through the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our High Priest.
So that little phrase there "by him" indicates that we are getting our prayers up to God via, or by way of, the Lord Jesus Christ. For the Bible says, "There is one God and there is one Mediator between God and men, and it is the God-man," if you will, "Jesus Christ." He is our Mediator. And so we respond in gratitude and we say, "Thank you, Lord, for the great things you have done in my life."
Hudson Taylor was the founder of the China Inland Mission, and he had a plaque on his wall in China. He was a great missionary. And in this plaque he had two Hebrew words. One was the word Ebenezer, one was the name Jehovah-Jireh. The first word means "hitherto hath the Lord helped us," and the second one was "the Lord will provide." One looked back, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us," Ebenezer. And the other one, Jehovah-Jireh, "God will provide."
And I want to tell you something, that you can look back this morning over 2018 and you can say, "Ebenezer, God has provided." And I want to tell you, you can look ahead in the new year and you can say, "Jehovah-Jireh, God will provide in the new year." And this is cause to give thanks to the Lord for all that he has done.
Now, the new year is God's gift to you; what you do with it is your gift to God. The new year, if you cross over into 2019 in just a few days, that's God's gift to you: "Here's another year of life." That's God's gift to you. What you do with it, that's your gift to God. And your gift to God is either going to amount to a box of junk or it's going to amount to heavenly priorities, because we can purpose this morning and we can say, "Lord, this year I'm going to let your word dwell in me, I'm going to make a priority of your word.
"Lord, this year, everything that I do I'm doing it for you. Everything that I do is for the glory of Jesus Christ. I want you to get glory from my life. And, Lord, this year I'm going to thank you and praise you for breath, for the ability, for the privilege to serve you. I'm going to make this a purpose in my life. I'm not going to be mister grumbly anymore. I'm not going to be miss complainer anymore. I'm going to give you thanks for the good, good things you have done in my life." Here's a purpose for the new year: "The Bible dwelling in me."
Oh, friend, do you understand, you need a word to guide you. Do you understand, we have a name to exalt and glorify? And do you understand, we have a God to give thanks to? Take this purpose, put them high on your priority list, and don't let the tech and the games and the other things of life and all of the little hobbies that you so enjoy and talk about, don't let those things crowd these things out. Make Jesus the priority in your new year.
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