Calvary Road Baptist Church

“SOME PREPARATIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR”

  

This is our final Sunday evening service in the 2014 calendar year, so I want to encourage you with an extremely practical message that I think will yield profound benefits in the coming year, and for the rest of your life and your children’s and grandchildren’s lives. Tonight I want to encourage you to take the long view. However, first let me remind you that the Christian life is for the most part very simple and extremely straightforward. It usually only becomes complicated when the Christian departs from doing what he is told in God’s Word. Therefore, to keep things simple keep obedience to God’s Word and God’s will at the very forefront of your thinking.

You have heard me say that most spiritual behavior is planned behavior. You keep in mind what you understand to be true from God’s Word as you prayerfully and carefully plan the actions you recognize to be God’s will for your life. This reflects the preparing that is done because of anticipation as is referred to in Proverbs 22.3 and 27.12:

 

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself.”

 

May I seize upon the experience and wisdom acquired over forty years to suggest several things for your consideration as we approach the New Year? I begin with those which are most important and proceed to some that are relatively less important but helpful, with the first seven items all being, in my opinion, crucial “must do” issues:

 

First, WITH RESPECT TO WEEKLY CHURCH SERVICES

 

I suggest that you plan and then execute your plan to attend as many of the regularly scheduled church services as possible, especially the Sunday services, followed by Saturday night evangelism, and then the Wednesday night prayer meeting and Bible study. Of course, this is vital training for youngsters growing up, since every time a service is missed the impact of the training is adversely affected, and since Proverbs 22.6 reads,

 

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

 

Of course, each of us has family members and loved ones who exhibit determined opposition to our involvement in our church, even professing evangelicals who think attending church more than once a week is evil. Therefore, I would suggest that you ask them now to schedule around your church commitments just as you show courtesy to schedule around their commitments. Birthdays, anniversaries, holiday celebrations are annual and therefore predictable events. Why don’t you be the first out of the gate with a suggestion made months in advance when such things could be celebrated for your convenience, since they seem to always insist on their convenience? You understand, do you not, that it may be required at some point that in order to show them (your kids and your family) the importance of your Savior, you will need to choose being with God’s people over being with unsaved people and relatives. Of course, this will infuriate them, but how else can you show them that Christ is more important to you than they are, Luke 14.26:

 

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”[1]

 

If you do not do this already, let me also suggest that you routinely talk about the upcoming church service with your children, referring to the Wednesday night service on Monday or Tuesday, referring to evangelism on Thursday, and also referring to both Sunday services no later than Saturday as they are guided in laying out their clothes for church the night before. A lifestyle of faithful church attendance is crucial.

 

Next, TRAIN CHILDREN TO HONOR THE LORD WITH THEIR GIVING

 

The first commandment with promise reads,

 

“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”

 

What is lost on many parents these days, and what I hope is not lost on you, is that children must be trained to honor their parents, and when children are not trained to speak and act respectfully toward their parents it is very unlikely they will do so. Why then is it not recognized that the same defect in character and its remedy also applies to honoring God? Those who would honor God must be trained to honor God. But who is tasked to train children to honor God but their parents? One of the most familiar verses and principles in the Bible having to do with honoring God is Proverbs 3.9:

 

“Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.”

 

God is not only honored by giving, but by every way in which we use the material blessings He provides for us. However, who would deny that God is being dishonored by those who refuse to give of their first fruits to Him? As well, who would expect to be honored by their children who do not themselves honor their God? The law of sowing and reaping. Therefore, since you do not want to look on as a grandparent, helplessly watching your grandchildren dishonor your kids because your kids were never themselves trained to honor God with their giving, allow me to make some suggestions I think are helpful.

Train your children to be regular, which is to say weekly, givers by doing two things: I do not advocate monthly giving of tithes and offerings, or giving every two weeks. I advise weekly giving as the best means of developing the godly habit and character of giving. First, make sure you sit down at the kitchen or dining room table to write out your own offering check or count out cash, and then fill out your offering envelope and put it in and seal it. I think it is important that your children actually see you doing that on a weekly basis. I suggest that you sit them down with you for that demonstration of godly character. Once that is done, I urge you to then fill out for them or have them fill out their own offering envelope, including the amount of one dollar that you have handed to them to place into the envelope. Then you take that sealed envelope to church and give it to your child once you are here to take to Sunday School for the Sunday School offering, or for the offering in the auditorium once they are old enough. In that way you will inculcate in your kids a habit of life that God’s Word tells us is related to honoring Him. I submit that in so honoring God you will find your children more likely to honor you. How very important that is.

 

Third, HONOR THE LORD WITH YOUR OWN GIVING

 

Of course, parents have the advantage, if they have any interest in raising their children properly, of seeing the need to set a good example. What kind of dad wants to be a hypocrite to his kids? The same is true of a husband who has any concept of the importance of not being seen by his wife as hypocritical. Guys who make a big deal about showing respect without setting a good example in front of wife and kids are not thinking clearly.

However, you may be a single mom or an unmarried person who has begun to take seriously this notion of honoring the Lord. Your question, in view of your limited finances, is how? Allow me to make several important suggestions: First, make sure you fill out an offering envelope and place into the offering a check or a bill of some denomination every single Sunday morning, without fail. I promise you that giving a dollar will not put you under. If you cannot give a dollar you are going under anyway, so go under doing right. Begin by giving a dollar a week until it becomes an absolute habit. That done, move on to the second step of honoring the Lord. Increase the amount of your weekly giving. Double it to two dollars. Do that until it becomes a habit before doubling your offering amount yet again to four dollars. Keep doing that until you reach 10%, which is a tithe. Of real importance on your way to obedience is that you never miss a Sunday and that you do your best not to back track. One more thing: Never give a love offering or a missions offering unless you are first giving ten percent. Use your desire to give a love offering, and your desire to give to missions as motivation to first give to God what is His. This becomes your plan to honor God.

 

Fourth, READ GOD’S WORD EVERY DAY

 

“If you read only what you enjoy reading you will go to Hell.” Therefore, since nothing is more important than the salvation of your eternal and undying soul, nothing is more important to you than reading some portion of God’s Word every day. James tells this about God’s use of His own Word, in James 1.18:

 

“Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.”

 

However, it is also very common for Christians to find it very difficult to develop a daily pattern of reading God’s Word, and then progressing onward to actually studying God’s Word. What will help you do that? John 17.17, where the Savior prayed to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane,

 

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

 

Thus, your growth as a Christian and your victory over sins will come as God uses His Word in your life to cleanse you. That does not happen unless and until you read God’s Word.

 

Fifth, PRAY EVERY DAY

 

Why should you pray? James 4.2 declares,

 

“ye have not, because ye ask not.”

 

You wake up in the morning and either prepare to take on the day or you do not prepare to take on the day. Who do you think will more likely succeed that day, the person who prepares to take on the day or the person who is so proud, so lacking in humility, that he thinks he can manage his day without any kind of preparation? I think we know the answer.

However, there are two kinds of preparation, the kind that takes into consideration spiritual concerns and eternity and the kind that ignores spiritual matters and pretends there is no eternity. If you are someone who recognizes the existence of the spiritual, who understands the importance of the eternal, then you are more inclined to pray to the eternal God Who is a spirit.

Surprisingly, there are many who claim to be Christians, and who in fact are Christians, who demonstrate periods of practical atheism, sometimes going for days without praying. My suggestion? Decide to pray every day, asking God for grace to take on the day, requesting from Him a demonstration of divine favor in the form of wisdom, understanding, humility, or some such thing that you have to have to be the man, the woman, or the young person you need to be.

Pick a time every day to pray. Maybe in bed before after you wake up and before you run to the bathroom. Maybe right after you come back from the bathroom. Whenever you pray, make sure you seek God, ask what you will of God, and purpose during the day to glorify God as He enables you. However, I think it is important that you pray in the morning, Psalm 63.1:

 

“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee.”

 

Sixth, DO WHATEVER IS NECESSARY TO BEAR FRUIT

 

The Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples that bearing fruit was not optional, John 15.5:

 

“He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

 

Does this not suggest that not bearing fruit is the result of not abiding in Christ? How serious is that problem? Therefore, whatever you do you must do what it takes to bear fruit, no matter the inconvenience. Are you in a comfortable groove, a relaxing routine, that produces no fruit? Then it has to change. Why does it have to change? Because if you really are a child of God the reason you were left on this earth rather than being immediately taken to heaven was to bear fruit.

Perhaps you need to carve out a time each week to nurse a cup of coffee at a coffee shop where you can gradually meet people. Perhaps you need to stroll along the path next to Royal Oaks where so many other people do the same thing. Something must be done to meet, to befriend, and to then bring, and to then bring again and again, someone who will become your fruit. It is necessary.

 

Seventh, SEEK TO BECOME A MENTOR OR SEEK SOMEONE TO MENTOR YOU

 

Not only is the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ to make disciples the marching orders for our entire congregation, but there is also specific application of this charge to each one of us. That means you and I have an undiminished responsibility to engage in guiding someone or being guided by someone to greater maturity and effectiveness as a child of God and as a church member.

If you are not faithful to our church’s services, faithful in giving your tithes and offerings, and faithful in seizing opportunities to spur on the prayerfulness of others by yourself being a prayer warrior, then you have identified yourself as one who needs a mentor.

Each of us needs to understand that we are responsible to influence more than our own children, and more than our own subordinates at work. We are to learn and then pass it on, and the plan we are to comply with was restated by Paul to Timothy as follows:

 

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”[2]

 

Eighth, READ A GOOD BOOK EVERY MONTH

 

Readers are leaders and leaders are readers. I am not suggesting that you should only read Christian books, but that if you read the first thing you read is God’s Word, followed by a pattern of reading books that will benefit your personal development.

Do you find reading hard or boring? Too bad, you need to read anyway. It is that important. Three suggestions about reading: Once you start a book, do not stop until you have completed it. I do not care how dull you find it to be, you have to develop the character to finish what you start, even with a boring book. Second, consider standing up to read only one or two pages at a time, rather than sitting in a comfortable chair to is far too relaxing. My wife can attest to my habit of standing while I read for a few minutes in our bedroom before bed each night. It is almost always the case that if you find reading boring to you, or if you frequently read a page only to reread it because you got nothing out of it, you are reading too slowly. If that is the case, I encourage you to speak to my wife about the ReadingPlus program that has helped tens of thousands of people to become better readers, and you can do it at home by yourself.[3]

 

Ninth, DEVELOP A SICK CHILD STRATEGY

 

We cannot allow sick children into our nursery, or children who appear to be sick because of allergies. Sorry, but it is responsible stewardship and on that I must be inflexible. As well, regardless of age, if your child cannot be placed into the nursery, cannot go to a class, or cannot go on evangelism (depending on age), your child needs to stay home. Further, I would urge wives to stay home with sick kids on Sunday morning, husbands stay home with sick kids Sunday evening, and husbands stay home with sick kids on Wednesday night to relieve moms a bit. On Saturday nights? Take turns watching the sick child. If you have a newborn, or if your child has symptoms that may be nothing more than allergies, or if your child is feeling poorly but able to come to church, my library is available. Just understand that moms with kids who may be sick need to defer to moms with allergic kids when it comes to using my library.

 

Tenth, ATTEND TO YOUR HEALTH

 

Dr. French has been talking about this for decades, and he is absolutely on target. Eat unhealthy fast foods and drink sodas if you want to develop or maintain poor health. Some of us need to lose weight, while others of us need to gain weight. However, none of us is incapable of improving our dietary regimen, attending to our optimal weight, and exercising in some way. If you cannot run you can walk. If you cannot walk you might be able to use a kettle ball. If you cannot use a kettle ball, perhaps you can use soup cans. If you cannot do any of those things, it is likely you can swim or engage in a pool exercise program at YMCA.

The scriptural point of this final item for suggested New Year resolutions is Third John 2, where the apostle wrote,

 

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

 

Notice, if you will, that I have not in this message focused on heart attitudes, but entirely upon deeds. Why so? Because good deeds can lead as much to right heart attitudes as can emotional appeals. Proverbs 16.3 informs us,

 

“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.”

 

Therefore, since these are both practical and reasonable suggestions from the perspective of a born again Christian, I would be absolutely stunned to find one of our church members unwilling to acknowledge that these suggestions are wise courses of action and that we should do these things.

What kind of Christian would not want to take reasonable steps to not only be faithful in church but also establish in a meek and humble way to unsaved family members that Christ is first in your life? What kind of parent would not want to train children to honor the Lord? What kind of believer would not want to take small but important and easily accomplished steps that would eventually result in growth and spirituality? I trust that you recognize the benefit of planning to do right, of then actually beginning to do right, and of continuing to do right, so that you will establish and build the personal reputation to your wife, to your children, and also to others who will not know your business but will observe your growth of character.

I urge you to prayerfully commit these suggestions to careful consideration. I cannot think of better resolutions, especially the first seven. As your pastor, as a gospel minister charged with training and preparing you to serve God, Ephesians 4.12, I would like to see each and every church member decide to be “all in” on this. What do I mean by “all in?” I mean you have decided to begin. Perhaps you are not a tither, but you have decided to begin the journey toward becoming a tither, a week at a time. Maybe you give, but only once a month, and you have now decided to give weekly instead of monthly. Begin to pray every day. Begin to read God’s Word every day. Begin to train your children in deliberate fashion to honor God. And it’s about time you began to train your unsaved family members, don’t you think? After all, they are not at all qualified to lead you, so you need to lead them . . . or at least to try to lead them.

I sincerely hope you will make New Year’s resolutions. Successful people tend to set goals and work toward accomplishing those goals. If your goal is, as it should be, to walk worthy of God, then these suggested resolutions are wonderful means to achieving your goal, if you will but do them.



[1] Of course, the Lord Jesus here speaks of unsaved family’s perceptions of being hated and not the reality of the disciple’s love for his family.

[2] 2 Timothy 2.2

[3] https://www.readingplus.com/ 12/28/14


Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org