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“Crossing Over Into a New Year!”

Sermon Notes (Sunday January 10th, 2016)

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor

 

Crossing Over Into a New Year!

Deuteronomy 11:8-17; Hebrews 13:8

 

The Christmas season was over. The young family started taking down the Christmas decorations and putting them away for another year. The little girl in the family observed her mom wrapping up the nativity scene and placing each figure carefully away in a storage box. When it came time for the little figure of Jesus in the manger to be wrapped up in paper, she looked at her mother and asked, “Mommy, are we putting Jesus away for another year?” Christmas is over and we are crossing over into a New Year, are we putting Jesus away for another year? Will this be a year you grow closer to Jesus or, for some reason, move further away from Him?

 

In the Book of Deuteronomy chapter 11, the children of Israel were coming to the end of an era. After 40 years of wandering in Sinai wilderness and the death of an entire generation, they are now looking forward with great anticipation to the dawn of a new era in a new land. They were encamped on the eastern bank of the River Jordan overlooking the Promised Land. They are ready to cross over the River Jordan to the land flowing milk and honey.

 

Crossing over into a New Year can bring some very mixed feelings. On one hand, we get excited for so many opportunities that lie ahead of us. On the other hand, we get nervous about the challenges 2016 might bring our way. As we cross over into the New Year and as we celebrate the ordination and installation of new church officers today, I want to share with you this morning a couple important lessons from God’s Word based on Deuteronomy 11 and Hebrews 13. Two reminders that we as Followers of Christ and leaders in this church will need through out the year:

 

First: We Will Encounter Hills and Valleys

In Deuteronomy 11:11 we read, “But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys…” As we look into the New Year, we know that we will be facing mountains and valleys. The sea will not always be smooth. The journey will not always be down hill. The road will not always be straight and bathed in light. Sometimes we will find ourselves in the dark, struggling with hills and through valleys. The fact is, like it or not, life is filled with ups and down, hills and valleys, troubles and trials, difficulties and traumas.

 

The land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys.” Mountains might not always be pleasant, but we need them. We cannot live without the hills. Friends, we need the hills – for the challenge… to force us to our knees… to teach us we can climb… to remind us of the faithfulness of God. Someone once said, “To realize the worth of the anchor, we need to feel the storm.” Mountains and valleys will be always there. They are part of our human experience. As followers of Christ and leaders of this congregation, some days we will be flying up there while other days we will be walking down here. In all circumstances, God’s Presence will go with us and will give us rest. And that’s the second great truth we encounter in Deuteronomy chapter 11.

 

Second: The Eyes of the Lord Continually on us

My second thought has to do with the God who continually cares for us. Along with the hills and valleys, God leads us through. He always provides the grace… the strength… to get over the mountain or through the valley. Unbelievers have no such resource… you and I do. Praise God.

 

God continually observes us all year long. In Deuteronomy 11:11-12 we read, “But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.”

 

Friends, we are tempted to think that God watches over the spiritually elite more than average, ordinary people. Isn’t it hard to believe that God is as interested in you and your life as He is in the life of Billy Graham or some other great Christian leaders? I know we feel insignificant to God at times – maybe even forgotten or forsaken.

 

The Bible makes it clear that it’s impossible for God to forget you; in fact, it’s impossible for Him to ever take His eyes off of you. The eyes of the Lord our God are continually on us from the beginning of the year to its end. Even though you are but one of His children, He observes you, sees you, focuses in on you as carefully, as tenderly and as continually as if you were the only child in His family.

 

God’s eyes never get red and sleepy observing us. God’s eyes never get distracted from you. God’s eyes never get bored watching over you. God’s awareness of you is just as real and continual when you go through difficult moments in 2016 as it is when you go through wonderful moments this year.

 

Are you worried about the days to come? Let Christ give you a fresh start. Let’s remember to keep our eyes always fixed on Him. As we embark on a new year, let’s remember God’s faithfulness. Open your eyes in the days to come and you will see tangible reminders of God’s Presence and faithfulness in your life. Friends, a lot of things can scare and frighten us this year. The unknown is frightening. But I want to encourage you today to rest secure in God’s love. “Perfect love,” says 1 John 4:18, “drives out fear.” Friends, let’s remember that we will encounter hills and valleys. Let’s also remember, which is far more important, that the eyes of the Lord are continually on us. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” Hebrews 13:8. “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” Best wishes for 2016. Amen!

 

 

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