December 31, 2005

"Happy New Year"

Happy New Year! Do we say this to each other in hopes that the new year will have less of life’s trials and frustrations than the past year? I guess we all hope that things will get better and better but each year we get older and older and closer to life’s completion. Sure there will be happy times, but as virgins with oil in their lamps anticipating the soon return of the Bridegroom the time has not yet come for celebration. We want to see Jesus! And until we do, we are not yet complete and it is a danger to us to become comfortable and sleep as do our sisters without oil in their lamps.

"And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast" (Matt 9:15).

"Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, 'Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me'? Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you" (John 16:19-22).

These passages explain why we believers should not join the circle of merrymakers tonight as the world rings in the New Year. I’m not trying to be a party-pooper, but this world is not our home, and we see the birth pangs growing in intensity for the Lord’s soon return. Then it will be our time to celebrate. We dare not get too comfortable here.

As others are making their New Year’s Resolutions, we should be resolved to stay awake and recognize the signs of the times that herald His soon return. We can look around us and see that the world is ripe for judgment and the time of harvest is almost past. All that seems to be left in the fields is a remnant for us gleaners to sweep up and rescue (Jude 23).

As others make resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, find a husband, get a make-over, we should be resolved to resist the lure of the things of the world and the temptation to fit in. We need to be set apart for the Master or risk being swept away with the coming judgments. While others are partying and drinking, we need to remain alert and sober and ever watchful of the many traps that the enemy sets for us to take us off the narrow road. The New Testament tells us that judgment begins in the house of the Lord. The Old Testament says the same thing:

"Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer's inkhorn at his side; and the Lord said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it." To the others He said in my hearing, ‘Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary’" (Ez. 9:3-6).

Today are we the ones "who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done"? Or have we become callused and desensitized to evil? Do we laugh along with the world as we indulge in our favorite TV programs that have immoral themes like "Desperate Housewives," or laugh at the latest comic's dirty jokes?  Has the cry for liberty and tolerance that we hear in the world, and unfortunately in the "church," muzzled your mouth from speaking up for truth? When that happens our hearts soon follow. Do we have the Lord’s mark on our foreheads or are we tainted by the world?

Instead of singing "Auld Lang Syne," let’s put another song in our mouths for the New Year – Here are a couple of my favorite choruses that I will sing at midnight tonight. I hope you do too.

"Steadfast Love"
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning
New every morning.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord.
Great is Thy faithfulness

"Purify my Heart"
Purify my heart
let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart,
let me be as gold, pure gold
Refiner's fire
My heart's one desire
is to be holy
set apart for You Lord.
I choose to be holy
set apart for You my Master,
ready to do your will.


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