Sunday, June 25, 2017
 

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon Message For The New Year ]


MESSAGE FOR THE NEW YEAR

Deuteronomy 32:11,12 says, “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth ~over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with hir ~The thoughts to be set forth in this sermon are found in the words,”Tlze Lord alone did lead him.” Moses in this passage is speaking concerning Israel in the wilderness wanderings. God was leading a nation of people who had been subjected to a state of slavery for several generations. Because oJ the debasing influences of slavery they were little better than a mob. They were not fitted to enter at once into Canaan and take part in the responsibilities of organized social life as a free people. Therefore, God, instead of taking the short route to Canaan, it was so in his providence that they should wander for forty years in the wilderness. This happened partly as a punishment for their unbelief and disobedience, but also in order that the nation might be trained and educated for its future destiny. The nation was to be trained to be the custodian of the oracles of God and to be the receiver of the revelation which God intended to give to men.

If you will read carefully over the history of Israel in the wilderness, I think you will see that the practical training which God adopted was adapt ed to bring them to the very highest state of spiritual life. They were trained to worship a spiritual God--in spirit and in truth. The whole of their training, while it educated and developed their patience and faith, had also the high purpose of teaching them gratitude and faithfulness to thc
service of God. Life was difficult for them in the wilderness, but they werc
blessed in that God led them. As God alone led Israel through the vicissitudes of life, so God is leading his New Testament church and for similar purposes. God alone must lead us today, if we are to accomplish our appointed destiny.

As I draw a parallel between the children of Israel and ourselves as God's people, I would have you notice a comforting thought for the New Year. Israel had for their guide, instructor, and tutor, in order to prepare them fOr their future destiny, none other than Jehovah himself. Please note the ~words “The Lord alone did lead them.” And so it is with us. As we cross the threshold of a new year with its uncertainties and fears, it is well for us that in providence we are led by “the Lord alone”. How quickly the hours of the past year ran out. Those of us who have reached or passed middle age look back on it and are tempted to say in the phrase of the Psalmist, “I passed by, and lo, it was gone; I sought it but its place could nowhere be found” (Psalm 37:36). We are all another year older. Some have left us, and perhaps you, like I, often ask who among us will be missing when another year passes? For some the past year has been a year of anxieties and struggles, and for others it has been a year of surprises and achievements.

As we reshape and renew old dreams and ambitions for the new year, we may add some new untried and untested ones. We remain concerned for the wellbeing of our families. Nor should we forget or become unmindful of neighbors. friends, and even the stranger and his needs. We are, also, a part of a nation and a world, and since national and worldwide problems influence our lives we are concerned for what the future holds in these areas. Certainly, in the past year the nations have been making history, whether for good or evil. This is not the hour to discuss it controversially. Probably those who come after us will be better able to judge impartially as to what last year has really been to our country and to the human race. Because of a slowed down economy and high unemployment, many are gravely concerned with what tb~ new year may hold for them. And who knows? It is important to remember thati while we may not know what the future holds we do know who holds the future. The future is safely in the hand of God. Christians take comfort in t~e fact that whatever the new year holds for them, “the Lord alone” is leading us. Let us, therefore, make it our goal to do that which honors and pleases God. To do less is to assure ourselves of failure. To be true to him, on the other hand, is to assure ourselves of his favor with which we cannot fail. Let us count our blessings of the past and look to the fpture with confidence and work while it is day, realizing that the night comes when no man can work.

Secondly, the text suggests another parallel between Israel in the wilderness and Christians passing through this world. The Lord alone led them, and his design was to bring them to a high state of spiritual life. Furthermore, he was educating them for their future destiny as God's chosen people. And so it is with us. The great idea whith I want to bring forward, if I can, is this. God in his providence and goodness, as far as we have been made willing to learn of him, is educating us for something higher than this world. In the physical universe this earth is our home, and we are deeply attached to it. This world is the nature in which we dwell, We speak of “mother earth”, and it seems as though we can never rise pernanently above our kinship to it. But God is educating us for the skies. Reference is made to this great truth in Colossians 3:1—3, “If ye then be
risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on the things of the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” This is what our discipline, education, and training is all about. The meaning of your trials and difficulties, the interpretation of your sorrows is this. God is preparing you for another state, making you fit to dwell with angels and archangels, and the spirits of just men and women made perfect. If this earth is the only home we have, there would be no need to set our affections on things above. If this world were all, then your teachers at school or your professors when you passed through college might have sufficed. But this world is only the vestibule to the next, and if you know as well as man can teach you, how to play your part here with a view only to secular advancement, still you aremt educated at all in the highest sense. God himself must teach and train you that you may be fit to have communion with the celestial spirits around his throne. God is teaching us. Jesus said that we must all be taught of God (John 6:45). God alone can do it, and he will do it, but tab care that you put away all strange gods of the new year and give yourselves up completely to his guidance, submitting your will and your affections to his teaching.

Finally, the text speaks of the methods of God's divine instruction. These methods of divine instruction are given to us under the very poetical picture of the eagle training its young ones for flight. Moses said, “As an eagle stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out it wings, catching them, bearing them on her wings, so the Lord alone did lead him.” To accomodate himself to our poor understandings, God sometimes
compares himself to a father with children and at other times to a mother with her little ones. In Matthew 23:37 Jesus said, “0 Jerusalem, Jeusaleml, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them with are sent unto tbee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” These metaphors are designed to set forth the patienc, tenderness, and kindness of God and Christ as our divine instructors.

In our text God compares himself to the eagle. I suppose that Moses wts well acquainted with the eagle's natural habits. He describes it first as stirring up its nest. The little eaglets felt protected and had no wish to leave their refuge where they had been reared. They would never learn to fly if the mother would not make it uncomfortable for them and force them to try their wings. Certain it is that God does this with those he would train for the skies. In a very real sense this earth is our nest and it is hard to become unattached to it. But in his providential superintendance of our lives, he allows trials, tests, difficulties, and sorrows as means of discipline in our lives. A study of church history reveals that the life of Christians has not always been a bed of roses. We all love prosperity, smooth sailing and a life of ease, but these things can have a dangerous influence on our souls, if we are not extremely careful. If we would put the kingdom of God and his righteousn~s5 first in our lives, then let prosperity come. But we are not enough like Jesus to always do this. For this reason Hebrews 12:5 says, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” God chastens through his providence by the sorrows, trials and pains which are common to man, God may see fit to stir up our nests. I don't know your history, but you do, and I ask you now to look it over. It may be life has not: been easy for you. Let us remember that God is leading us and teaching us, however difficult our way.

After the mother eagle stirs up her nest, the next picture is that: of her fluttering over her young. She moves her wings to teach them that they must thus move their wings. They must do this if they are to fly. There is no teaching like teaching by example. We always learn a great deal more through our eyes and ears than we do merely through our ears. Those of us who cannot preach with our mouths would do well to preach with our litres, which is the very best kind of preaching. This is the way God preaches to us. God says, “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:16). Above all, God has seen fit to set us an example of how we should live, in the person and life of his only begotten Son. In John 13:15 Jesus said, “For I have given you an example, that should do as I have done to you.”

Finally, we read in the text that the mother eagle spreads her wings, takes them and bears them on her wings. I suppose this means she gets them on her back, flys to a great height, then suddenly shifts her wings and throws them off, and they are on their own. Unable at first to fly they begin to fly, but before they fall on a rock she makes a swoop and comes under them and catches them on her wings again to give them a little test. Then she bears them up once more and throws them off again, so that they must fly. But she takes care that these early trials, for which they are scarcely able, shall not end in their destruction. This too is a picture of what God does for us, his watch care over our our lives. After giving the charge to his disciples to evangelize the world,
and just before he ascended to heaven he left us this promise: “And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). In Hebrews 13:5 God says, “I will never leave thee or forsake thee.” We can be certain that he will allow no temptation to take us but such as is common to man. I shall not detain you longer except to say one more time that if God is training you for the skies, then set your affections op things above and not on the earth. This corruptible wnrld must not claim us, for we have been born of incorruptible seed. We are not this world's property, for we have been ½ought with a price. There can be no peace between our souls and this world.

The new year will present many oppnrtunities, but the greatest of all opportunities is that of accepting the salvation offered us in Christ Jesus. The Bible says, “They that gladly received his word were baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand soul$” (Acts 2:41). Verse 47 of that same chapter says, “And the Lnrd added to the church daily such as should be saved.” There is absolutely no evidence that they were added, then saved, and then baptized (or not baptized at all, just as they saw fit). But God adds only the saved, and God' order is (1) baptized, (2) saved, (3) added that same day, or daily.










































-4-
How quickly the hours of the past year ran out. Those of us who have reached or passed middle age look back on it and are tempted to say i~n the phrase of the Psalmist, “I passed by, and lo, it was gone; I sought ~t but its place could nowhere be found” (Psalm 37:36). It seems but yëster— ~ay when we were gathered here at the beginning of 1982. Yet, since then how much has taken place, how much there has been to think about. We are all jnother year older. Some have left us, and perhaps you, like I, often ask who among us will be missing when another year passes? For some the past year has been a year of anxieties and struggles, and for others it has been a year of surprises and achievements0

As we reshape and renew old dreams and ambitions for the new year, we may some new untried and untested ones. We remain concerned for the wellbeing of our families. Nor should we forget or become unmindful of neighbor:. friends, and even the stranger and his needs. We are, also, a part of a nat~ and a world, and since national and worldwide problems influence our lives
we are concerned for what the future holds in these areas. Certainly,: in the past year the nations have been making history, whether f or good br evil. This is not the hour to discuss it controversially; probably those who come after us will be better able to judge impartially as to what~ 1982
‘Cv has really been to our country and to the human race. Because of a slpwed down economy and h~h unemployment, many are gravely concerned with what tb~ new year may hold for them. And who knows? It is important to remember thai while we may not know what the future hold we do know who holds the future. The future is safely in the hand of God. Christians take comfort in t~e fact that whatever the new year holds for them, “the Lord alone” is leading us. Let us, therefore, make it our goal to do that which honors and pleases God. To do less is to assure ourselves of failure. To be true to him, on the other hand, is to assure ourselves of his favor with which we cannot fail. Let us count our blessings of the past and look to the fpture with confidence and work while it is day, realizing that the night comes when no man can work.

EDUCATION FOR THE SKIES

Secondly, the text suggests another parallel between Israel in the wilderness and Christians passing through this world. The Lord alone led them, and his design was to bring them to a high state of spiritual life. Furthermore, he was educating them for their future destiny as God̓s thosei people. And so it is with us. The great idea whith I want to bring forward, if I can, is this. God in his providence and goodness, as far as we have been made willing to learn of him, is educating us for something higher than this world. In the physical universe this earth is our home, and we are deeply attached to it. This world is the nature in which we dwell, We speak of “mother earth”, and it seems as though we can never rise pernan— ently above our kinship to it. But God is educating us for the skies.. Ref— ‘cJ erence is made to this great truth in Colossians 3:1—3, “If ye then be
risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on the things of the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, shall appear, then shall ye also ~p— pear with him in glory.” This is what our discipline, education, and training is all about. The meaning of your trials and difficulties, the inter— pretation of your sorrows is this. God is preparing you for another state, making you fit to dwell with angels and archangels, and the spirits of just men and women made perfect. If this earth is the only home we have, there would be no need to set our affections on things above. If this~ world were all, then your teachers at school or your professors when you passed through college might have sufficed. But this world is only the vestibule to the next, and if you know as well as man can teach you, how to play your part here with a view only to secular advancement, still you aremt educated at all in the highest sense. God himself must teach and train you that you may be fit to have communion with the celestial spirits around his throne. God is teaching us. Jesus said that we must all be:
taught of God (John 6:45). God alone can do it, and he will do it, but tab care that you put away all strange gods of the twentieth century and give yourselves up completely to his guidance, submitting your will and your affections to his teaching.

METHODS OF DIVINE INSTRUCTION

Finally, the text speaks of the methods of God̓s divine instruction. These methods of divine instruction are given to us under the very poetica picture of the eagle training its young ones for flight. Moses said, “As an eagle stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out it~ wings, catching them, bearing them on her wings, so the Lotd alone did lead him.” To accomodate himself to our poor understandings, God sometimes
—2--
p.,
compares himself to a father with children and at other times to a mother with her little ones. In Matthew 23:37 Jesus said, “0 Jerusalem, Jeru~ai~j~,

thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them with are sent unto tbee~ how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen
gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” These metaphors are designed to set forth the patienc~, tenderness, and kindness of God and Christ as our divine instructors.

In our text God compares himself to the eagle. I suppose that M?ses wts well acquainted with the eagle̓s natural habits. He describes it first as stirring up its nest. The little eaglets felt protected and had no wish to leave their refuge where they had been reared. They would never learn to fly if the mother would not make it uncomfortable for them and force them to try their wings. Certain it is that God does this with those he would train for the skies. In a very real sense this earth is our nest and it is hard to become unattached to it. But in his providential superintendance of our lives, he allows trials, tests, difficulties, and sorrows as means of discipline in our lives. A study of church history reveals that the life of Christi,ans has not always been a bed of roses. We all love prosperity, smooth sailing and a life of ease, but these things can have a dangerous influence on our souls, if we are not extremely careful., If we would put the kingdom of God and his righteousn~s5 first in our lives, then let 7pros— perity come. But we are not enough like Jesus to always do this. For this reason Hebrews 12:5 says, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of̓the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” God chastens through his providence by the sorrows, trials and pains which are common to man, God may see fit to stir up our nests. I don̓t know your history,
<~, but you do, and I ask you now to look it over. It may be life has not: been easy for you. Let us remember that God is leading us and teaching us, ho̓s̓— ever difficult our way.

After the mother eagle stirs up her nest, the next picture is that: of her fluttering over her young. She moves her wings to teach them that they must thus move their wings. They must do this if they are to fly. There is no teaching like teaching by example. We always learn a great deal more through our eyes and ears than we do merely through our ears. Those of us who cannot preach with our mouths would do well to preach with our litres, which is the very best kind of preaching. This is the way God preaches to us. God says, “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:16). Above all, God has seen fit to set us an example of how we should live, in the person a~J life of his only begotten Son. In John 13:15 Jesus said, “For I have given you an example, that should do as I have done to you.”
Finally, we read in the text that the mother eagle spreads her wings, takes them and bears them on her wings. I suppose this means she gets them on her back, flys to a great height, then suddenly shifts her wings and throws them off, and they are on their own. Unable at first to fly they begin to fly, but before they fall on a rock she makes a swoop and comes under them and catches them on her wings again to give them a little test. Then she bears them up once more and throws them off again, so that they must fly. But she takes care that these early trials, for which they are scarcely able, shall not end in their destruction.
This too is a picture of what God does for us, his watch care over our t~ lives. After giving the charge to his disciples to evangelize the world,
and just before he ascended to heaven he left us this promise: “And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). In ilebrews 13:5 God says, “I will never leave thee or forsake thee.” We can be certain that he will allow no temptation to take us but such as is common to man. I shall not detain you longer except to say one mnra F imc~
that if God is training you for the skies, then set your affections op things above and nut on the earth. This corruptible wnrld must not claim

~:. us, for we have been born of incorruptible seed. We are not this wUr1~̓s property, f~r we have been ½ought with a price. There can be no peace between our souls and this world.

The new year will present many oppnrtunities, but the greatest of all opportunities is that of accepting the salvation •f~ered us in Christ~ Jesus. The Bible says, “They that gladly received his word were baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand soul$” (Acts 2:41). Verse 47 of that same chapter says, “And the Lnrd added to the church daily such as should be saved.” There̓s absolutely no evidence that they were added, then saved, and then baptized (or nmt baptized fl all, just as they saw fit). But God adds only the saved, and God̓s order is (1) baptized, (2) saved, (3) added that same day, or daily.










































-4-



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