Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon A Mediatation On The New Year ]

Lonnie Branam

Every New Year that it is our good fortune to enter is a precious gift from God. The New Year we have just entered is all the time we have, and no one know how much time we will have in the year that has just begun. Because of the brevity and uncertainty of life, it is eternally important how we live our life in this New Year and all other years in a way that is pleasing to God. I know of no words in the Bible more appropriate for a meditation on the New Year than the closing words in God's book, the Bible, are recorded in the book of Revelation 22:11-17, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous still, let him be righteous still; he who is holy let him be holy still. And behold I am coming quickly, and my reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and fornicators, and murderers, and idolaters and whoever loves and makes a lie. I Jesus have sent my angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” This is an appropriate passage to study at the close of every old year and the beginning of every new year. It reminds us what we may or may not have accomplished in the old year, and how we should live in the new year. This is the final testimony of Christ to His church. If we need to make any changes, let us buy up the time and use it wisely. I would like to impart three thoughts to your minds, and I hope you will take these thoughts and use them to live by. Thoughts and character are one and the same thing. Every person's life is a result of his thoughts. We can be no better or worse than our thoughts. Our thoughts have made us exactly what we are. The Bible says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

The first thought that arises from this passage is that with the passing of years, human character tends to become fixed, more or less permanent, and change becomes more difficult the longer we live. We do not like to change, and that is why most New Year's resolutions fail. Among the last words of Jesus to Christians and the unbelieving world was that when He comes He will bring His reward with Him and give to everyone according to his work To many people salvation is just a matter of faith, just a mental belief in the atonement of Christ and receiving Him into their lives as their Savior; and good works have nothing to do with going to heaven. That is not taught in this passage. Christ reward will be according to each person's work. James, the Lord's brother gave this message to Christians, “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” After giving us the beautiful figurative description of heaven as a city with streets of gold, Jesus then gave this warning, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” If people prefer to live an unholy, unrighteous life and miss heaven, that is their choice. Some Christians had fallen into this kind of life. Even in advanced age some Christians were “still” living a bad life. The word “still” indicates the tendency for our character to become fixed and almost unchangeable. When Christ comes the human race will have developed into these to kinds of character: holy and unholy, righteous and unrighteous. As a rule those who are righteous will go on living righteously, while those who are immoral will go on making themselves more immoral. Both will have it to be so, and blessed will it be for the righteous, but terrible for the unrighteous. Now this is a subject appropriate to the closing year and the beginning of a a new year. With entrance into heaven at stake, at such times it is wise to look back the way we have come and to ascertain where we stand with God.. As we begin a New Year, it is most wise to examine our selves and ascertain if we have a righteous character or an unrighteous character, a holy character or an unholy character. Are changes in order or do we just need to keep on keeping on. Business people take an inventory of their stock every year to determine whether they are succeeding or failing, and such a review is right. It is also wise for Christians to look back on the paths along which they have gone during the past year. As we begin a new year in God's service, how is it with our souls, how is it with our character?
Another thought that springs from his passage is that Christians should live a purpose-driven life in this New Year. In view of the Lord's words about heaven, to live a purpose-driven life is the only safe life to live. To live a purpose-driven life is to be motivated by some desire, some hope, some purpose that is above all other purposes in our life. One supreme purpose should rule our life and determine how we shall live our life. The purpose that should dominate every person's life in the year ahead is expressed beautifully in Revelation 22:14, “Blessed are those who do His commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter in through the gates into the city.” The Bible says those who eat of the tree of life will live forever. The supreme purpose of life is to live in such a way that we will be granted the right to eat of that tree. That tree was first located in the garden of Eden, , and if Adam and Eve had continued to eat of that tree they would never have died but would forever(Genesis 3:22-24). That tree is now located in heaven. This is the greatest thought and the greatest hope that has ever entered the mind of us poor, feeble, dying human beings. The tree of life is a figurative term for eternal life, an endless life. Is there any purpose man and woman can hope to achieve greater than the right to eat of the tree life and the right to enter through the gates of the eternal city of God? Scripture says this is the one hope of the Christian religion, and it is the one hope of the human race.
God loves the human race, and one aspect of His eternal purpose in creation was to unite the redeemed people of earth with the unfallen angels in heaven. Jesus said the saved people of earth will be like the angels in heaven. I believe it is the ultimate purpose of every human being to live in such a way as to be in that number who shall enter into heaven and live forever. To make that the number one achievement of life, to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and to be motivated by this hope above everything else in life, that is what it means to live a purpose- driven life. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes and obey Him should not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world but to save the world, and He has promised never to forsake us. The two most important aspects of a purpose-driven life is revealed in Revelation 22:14, “Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have the right to come to the tree of life and may enter in by the gates into th e city.” The New King James Version renders the passage,” “Blessed are those who keep His commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Both of these statements are divinely revealed truths and both are taught in other places in the New Testament. For Christians to wash their robes is to wash their character. In Revelation 7:14 Christians are described as people who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. This is metaphorical language and means to be forgiven of sin through the merits of the blood of Christ. Christian became clean when they were washed in the blood of Christ at conversion and baptism. The sinful Paul was commanded to arise and be baptized and wash away His sins. At baptism, the sins of a lifetime were washed away by the blood of Christ. At that time our robes were washed in the blood of Christ. After that first cleansing , all we need to do is continue to receive God's forgiveness the rest of our life because we live in an evil and wicked world. We become unclean sometimes from daily contact with the evil in the world. After baptism, Let us keep our Robes clean by the cleansing blood of Christ. The apostle John said, “He who says, I know Him and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him.” Let us keep ourselves clean by God's gracious forgiveness, and do His commandments and thereby glorify our Father in heaven.
The final thought from the text is that Christians live in a world of darkness, and this darkness greatly interferes with our efforts to live the purpose-driven life we have been talking about. Consider this statement of Jesus in Revelation 22:16, “I, Jesus have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” Christ is referred to as the Morning Star three times in the New Testament. These statements pre-suppose that we have some knowledge about the morning star. This text won't mean much to people who have not seen the morning star or have never heard of it. At certain times of the year this heavenly body, called the Morning Star, is visible about three hours before sunrise. It is also called the day-star because its presence in the Eastern sky is a sure sign that the night of darkness will soon be over and a new day will dawn. In addition to being the herald of the morning and a new day, it is also conspicuous for its brightness. Jesus is sad to be the “bright” morning star. It is the brightest thing in the heavens, and only the sun and moon are brighter. It is easily seen and nothing compares to it at that time of day.
Incidentally, we know that the morning star is not really a star but a planet. It is actually the planet Venus. It is called the morning star in the Bible because God's word speaks in language understandable to the people. The temperature on the surface of Venus is 900 degrees F. The boiling point of water 212 degrees F. That gives us some idea how hot it is there. That accounts also for its exceeding brightness. Since the New Testament calls Jesus Christ the Morning Star, there must be something about this star that conveys a religious teaching to the world. Let us see now how the Bible compares his heavenly body to Christ. First, I would suggest that when Christ began His Ministry, His teachings, miracles, and character was a shining light in a world of utter darkness. The morning star shines in the darkness about three hours before a wonderful new day appears. The apostle John said of Jesus, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” When God's Son made His appearance on earth, a terrible darkness had fallen on planet earth. It was not a literal darkness but a spiritual darkness. That darkness began when Adam and Eve sinned, and spiritual darkness spread over the entire earth. The life that was in Christ was spiritual life, and light which shines from him is spiritual light and consists of of: truth, righteousness, holiness etc. The darkness was religious darkness caused by ignorance, immorality, ungodliness, unrighteousness etc. From Adam and Eve to the present century, human history has been one long night of moral and religious darkness. Jesus was the Morning Star when He lived on earth, and He is the Morning Star as He sits at the right hand of God, and the darkness still does not comprehend His light. Christians apprehend His light, but they are people who were called out of darkness into God's marvelous light. The very meaning of the word church is, “the called out, that is, the called out of darkness into the light of Christ.
In addition, the title of Morning Star given to Jesus signifies the unique greatness of Jesus as a religious teacher. Scripture calls it a bright star. In the California sky it is the brightest thing in the heavens. As the morning star is the brightest light in the literal heavens when it appears in the Eastern sky before sunrise, so Jesus is the greatest religious teacher in the religious heavens. He is the greatest religious teacher this world has ever seen. . As a teacher of religion He is beyond compare. He stands out above all other teachers, as the morning star shines brighter than any star in the heavens. There are many other religious lights shining in the religious heavens. Humanity recognizes them as great religious teachers, and they command millions of followers. Some of the shining stars in the religious world are Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, Plato, the Pope of Rome, Joseph Smith, and other lesser lights too numerous to mention. None of them are to be compared to Jesus. Really, He is so brilliant, wonderful, both human and divine, and so great that no one should fail to see Him. We should not look for knowledge from any of these other teachers. God made Him so wonderful and so great that that no one should fail to see Him. Scripture declares that it is God's will that Jesus should have the “preeminence” in all things (Colossians 1:18).
I will say one more thing about Jesus as the Morning Star. I agree with those who teach that Jesus, as the “Morning,” Star. points out Jesus to all mankind as the herald and forerunner of a new glorious sunrise for the human race, for all who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, who have washed their robes in the blood of Christ, and who have distinguished themselves by doing the commandments of God. As this star is brightly visible a short time before sunrise, it is called the herald of the sunrise. It is the forerunner of the dawn, the assurance of a new day. Peter called it the day star. Many think the designation of Christ as the Morning Star points us to the sunrise and new day which awaits humanity, when the long night of darkness merges into everlasting day. We know this because the Morning Star has risen on humanity. It is shining now to all who eyes to see it. Christ is the forerunners and herald. of an eternal day.
There are some Christian hymns based on this interpretation. Jesus referred to the day of all days when He said, “But of that day and hour knows no one not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.“ One hymn says, “I'll meet you in the morning by the bright riverside.” Another says, “In the land of fadeless day, lies the city foursquare.” Still another says, “There's a great day coming, A great day coming, There's a great day coming by and by.” The coming of Christ, His church and His religion assures us that the period of human darkness, sorrow and sin will come to an end. The light of immortal light is just at the dawn; we know this because Christ the Morning Star has appeared. It isn't day yet, but our Morning Star has appeared in the religious heavens, and we wait for God's tomorrow. However, it is still dark. Let us keep our eyes on Christ the Morning Star. till either He comes to us or we go to Him. Jesus in this passage is saying to one and all, “Keep your eyes on Jesus.” In this New Year, keep your eyes on Christ. Listen to no other religious teacher. Jesus is the one who has the reward of eternal life. Keep your eyes on this star.

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