Akemashite Omedetou gozai masu. A Happy New Year.
Well it’s that time of year again; the New Year's Resolutions. Both in US and in Japan we give New Year's resolutions. But it usually lasts a couple of weeks if not a couple of days. Every year we promise to do these things... most common resolutions are:
TOP 5 NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS
Stay fit and healthy
Enjoy life to the fullest
Spend less, save more
Spend more time with family and friends
Let’s be honest now. How may of you kept to the diet? How many of you actually kept going to the gym past month? Well, this year I am determined its going to be different.
All of above resolutions are not related to God...nothing to do with God for the coming year.
This morning I want to talk about some resolutions that will make a radical difference in my life and your life if you follow through. Follow those 3 commitments in God's way, then you can experience a great change in your life....those are God's advice to you.
1: Commit Yourself to Forget Your Failures
2000 yrs ago, Paul gave this advice,
“Forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.”
Phil 3:13-14 That advice from God’s Word has stood the test of time.
You don't have to be imprisoned by your past. You are free if you look forward.
So, do not remember your failures of last year or some years ago. All of us have failed in some way in our lives.
Of course we won’t see our failures recorded for history on TV, but they are recorded in our hearts and minds. For many of us our failures are painful memories. Maybe for you it is a memory of how you failed in a relationship....You made the wrong decisions... said and did the wrong things.... and the relationship ended.
Some of you who are parents probably know that you failed teaching your children in some way... showed them wrong examples – yourself...taught them but received by children in negative ways...many of us are aware that we have failed in parenting sometimes... we failed ourselves in some ways.
What God’s Word is saying is that we must not allow ourselves to be bogged down by our past failures. That we have not dwell on our past so that it stops us moving forward into the future that God has for us.
I think that the start of New Year is a good time for you to rise to that challenge. To say to yourself, “I am going to forget my past, with help of God”....”I am going to stop hurting myself about what I did or didn’t do”.... We can not change our past no matter how we regret....
This New Year is a good time to stop being chained to your past failures. God is saying here in His Word that he doesn’t want you to go through your life in a failure.
When we become Christians we know that Jesus died for us on a cross. He took our sins and died instead of us, you and I. So that we do not need to die in sins. He took away all our sins on a cross... all our sins are forgiven by his cross. Forgiveness becomes a reality in our lives. When we have received Christ’s forgiveness it allows us to forgive ourselves and forget our failures.
Would you be able to do that right here this morning?... Do you accept Jesus in your life... and then his forgiveness can change you, and then you can forgive yourself.
2: Give up Your Grudges
I want you to listen to these words from the book of Colossians 3:13. Here you’ll hear the second challenge God wants you to make a significant turning point in your life.
“Bear with each other and forgive each other whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” Col 3:13
Did you catch that challenge?
God in those words is challenging you directly and personally to give up your grudges. That is what he means when he says forgive each other whatever grievances you may have against one another.
What is a grudge? A grudge is a deep resentment we cultivate in our hearts against someone else.
A grudge is an unforgiving spirit that leads to unforgiving attitudes and unforgiving actions.
Having a grudge is nursing a dislike for someone.
You need to know grudges are dangerous because they are destructive.
Grudges destroy marriages. Grudges break up families. Grudges ruin friendships. Grudges split churches. One of the scandals of the Church is the grudges that Christians hold against one another.
Today if you know you are holding a grudge against someone, then God has something to say to you. He says “give it up.”
I want to remind you that grudges are not just destructive, they are also self-destructive. When you hold a grudge against someone, you will hurt yourself as much... maybe you might hurt more.
We often hear sad news on TV...such like, a man kills his ex-girl friend (or ex-wife) because of a grudge he has against her. But soon after committing the murder in many cases he kills himself. That man's grudge destroyed his life as well.
If you keep having a grudge then it will eventually destroy you, if not physically, certainly emotionally and spiritually. It will make you a bitter and twisted person.
The book of Job 21 describes people who “Have no happiness at all, they live and die with bitter hearts.” Do you really want that to be in your tomb stone?
God says to you in His word, “Do not sentence yourself to prison.” Set yourself free. Give up your grudges “forgive each other whatever grievances you may have against one another.”
According to God’s Word, the way to give up a grudge is to forgive a grievance. Notice what God is saying here.
He isn’t asking you to ignore whatever the person has done to you.
He isn’t asking you to pretend it did happen.
He doesn’t ask you to over-look it...to pretend it didn’t matter...
What God asks you to do is to forgive the grievance.
That means to acknowledge how wrong and painful what was done to you... but decide to forgive person who did the wrong to you. Forgiving is an action... hard action...you need to decide to forgive that person.
I am very sure there are people here who need to give up their grudges, and forgive the grievance they have against someone else.
Some of you need to forgive your parents for what they did or what they didn’t do.
Some of you need to forgive your children for the same reason.
Some of you need to forgive a partner for emotional or physical abuse.
Some of you need to forgive someone at work because of the way they have treated you.
Some of you need to forgive other people in the church, or even in this congregation.
God says that deep-seated resentment you have against that person has to go. What better time to make that difficult decision to forgive than the start of a new year?
Now don’t tell God you can’t forgive, because Jesus Christ forgave all your sins. He suffered for you on a cross to forgive you. The question is will you do it?
3: Restore your relationships with other people.
Have you checked if your personal relationships are working properly? How is your relationship with your wife or husband, family members, friends, colleagues, or boy friends/girl friends? Here is how the Lord issues that challenge:
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” Romans 12:18
The important phrase there is, as far as it depends on you. God is personally challenging each one of us to do all we can to restore our relationships. The Lord wants you to do everything you can to restore any relationships that have gone wrong in your life.
Some relationships might have gone wrong in your life because of what other people have done.
When God’s word says here as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”.
If you have caused a gap in a relationship, then you have a responsibility to restore it.
Can you easily say “I am sorry” to the person closest to you? This is probably the hardest word to say.
I wonder how many marriages are broken-down because not saying “I was wrong, I am sorry, will you forgive me?”
I am sure some of us who are married need to ask forgiveness for “harsh words” that have really wounded our partners over the years.
Maybe God is saying to some of you...now is the time to restore your relationships... Say “I am sorry.”
Keith Drury is a Christian writer who says,
“Restitution is asking forgiveness for harsh words, or quick tongue. It is asking forgiveness from a brother you hurt, a mother you caused heartache, an old business partner, neighbor, or roommate. It is admitting my past errors in relationships and humbly seeking forgiveness from the one I’ve hurt. And it’s harder to make personal restitution than property restitution.”
I bet it will be hard to do, but it is one of the most significant things... Will you rise to that challenge and make a commitment to restore your broken relationships in this new year ?
It all boils down to this: Will this New Year be just a calendar changing event for you? Or are you willing to rise to these challenges from God’s word, and make these commitments a life changing event?
Are you willing to make these 3 commitments for 2017?
Will you commit yourself to forget your failures?
Will you commit yourself to give up your grudges?
Will you commit yourself to restore your relationships?
This New Year will really be something to celebrate if you’ll make forgiveness... the heart of what it’s all about for you.
Have the courage right here today.
To forgive yourself and “forget the past”
To forgive others who have hurt you “and forgive whatever grievances you have”
To ask for forgiveness from those you have hurt and “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”