Sermon – Hitting the Reset Button
Scripture Readings: Isaiah 65:17-19, 24-25, Revelation 21:1-7
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress….The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord. (Isaiah 65:17-19, 25)
Monday December 31 — Isaiah 65:17-19, 24-25
There are five (5) primary themes in the Biblical story: creation, covenant, Christ, community,and completion (or consummation.)The Bible starts with the creation story, but what we discover as we read through to Revelation is that creation was not a one-time event. God is always in the process of creating and re-creating. This is good news because we can count on God to do something new in the world and something new in our lives. As you prepare to change the calendar from 2018 to 2019, what new things are you hoping God will do in your life and in the world around you?
- Prayer:Creator God, thank you for the gift of life and the gift of hope for the future. Open my eyes and ears to see the new things you are doing in my life and in the world.
Tuesday January 1 — Revelation 3:7-13
Happy New Year! The New Testament Book of Revelation is a pastoral letter. It has a message from Jesus (given to John of Patmos) for seven churches in Asia Minor (see Revelation 1:9-11). The first section of the letter includes a specific message for each of the churches. The church in Philadelphia is commended for their faithfulness and reminds them of the promise of a new Jerusalem. In other words, Jesus promises that God will do something new, so they should “hold fast.”Which of God’s promises will help you “hold fast”as the new year begins?
- Prayer:God of Hope, inspire in me the confidence I need to hold fast to your teaching and live my life with patient endurance. Show me how to serve you in the year to come.
Wednesday January 2 — Revelation 21:1-7
As promised (Isaiah 65:17 and Revelation 3:12) the Biblical story ends with a completely new creation: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, …. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God”(Revelation 21:1-2). The main point of Revelation is that because we can trust in God’s faithfulness, we can worship and serve God no matter what happens in our lives. In the end, God wins, and we can live with confidence and faith. That’s the Good News. Do you believe it?
- Prayer:Loving God, forgive me for too often doubting your promises and not living with the confidence and faith that you desire. Help me to believe the Good News.
Thursday January 3 — 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
There are no better examples of how God can do new things and change lives from the inside-out than Paul, the New Testament missionary, pastor, and author. You can read about how God transformed his life in Acts 9:1-19 and, in his own words, in Galatians 1:13-17. So, when Paul writes about his ministry of reconciliation and becoming a new creation in Christ, he speaks from his own experience: God can perform miracles and God can use our transformed lives to do new things in the world around us. How might God use you to do something amazing this year?
- Prayer:Reconciling God, I am grateful that, through Jesus, you have reconciled my broken relationship with you. By your grace, I’m ready to be your ambassador.
Friday January 4 — Jeremiah 31:31-34
We know God as a covenant-maker and a covenant-keeper. The divine-human relationship is based on a covenant established by God. The terms of the covenant are non-negotiable. They are established by God and are summarized by Jeremiah: “I will be their God, and they shall be my people”(Jeremiah 31:33). Our life-long task is to obey the terms of the covenant. Even when we break the terms of the covenant, we discover that God continually renews and restores the relationship. God never breaks God’s promises. How will you keep your promises this year?
- Prayer:Covenant-Making God, let this be a year of learning and growing. Continue to teach me your ways and help me keep the covenant you have made with me.
Saturday January 5 — Luke 22:14-20
At the table of the last supper, we discover that Jesus’ death is the ultimate act of covenant-making and covenant-keeping. When we share in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, we experience, in a deep and powerful way, God’s covenant with us—a covenant that is established and maintained through God’s gift of forgiveness. As you prepare to receive the Sacrament in worship tomorrow, spend some time in prayer. Confess your need for God’s grace and accept God’s forgiveness.
- Prayer:God of Grace, I confess that I am a sinner who falls short of your glory. I repent of my sin and accept your forgiveness. Set me free to live a joyful and abundant life.