Looking Ahead To A New Year

Looking Ahead To A New Year

In the last post we considered some thoughts about how to look back at the past year.   That is one part of poster about the future aheadpreaching at the new year.  The other aspect of preaching at this time is looking ahead to a new year in your preaching.  How do you do that?

Theme #1 Redeeming the Time

There are many themes that can be used when looking ahead to a new year for your people.  The first one I want to point out today is what the Apostle Paul called “Redeeming the Time”.   The reference here is to Ephesians 5:15-17.  This is how the NIV translates these verses:

redeem the timeBe very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Unfortunately, this translation of the verse could cause us to think that Paul is just telling us not to waste our time.  There is much more, however, to what he is saying.  Here is how the New King James Version translates verses 15 and 16:

15 See then that you walk [a]circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Did you see the difference?  The word “redeeming” here is, in the original Greek, exagorazo, which literally means, “redeeming”.  It’s the same word that Paul uses in Galatians 3:13 when he says,

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…. 

Redeeming Time In the New Year

The dictionary defines redeem as,

to buy or pay off; clear by payment: to redeem a mortgage.
to buy back, as after a tax sale or a mortgage foreclosure.
to recover (something pledged or mortgaged) by payment or other satisfaction: to redeem a pawned watch.

What Paul is saying here is that time is precious.  It must not be wasted without thought, because days can be evil.

Rather, there should be one thing uppermost on your list.  What is that?  When we look at the next verses we see that the one thing that should occupy our minds and hearts in the new year is this:

Do not get drunk with wine….  Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

Just as a person who is drunk is under the control of the alcohol he or she has consumed, so we should be under the control of the Holy Spirit.

How Do You Redeem Time?

Then he goes on to describe how to redeem the time:

speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit.  (vs. 19)

I read Jeff Strite’s sermon on this passage this week.  In his message he shared that he went into a depression when he first went away to college.  As he tried to diagnose the cause, he realized that one contributing factor was the music he was listening to.  Simon and Garfunkel sang songs like this one:

remembering Simon and Garfunkel

Simon and Garfunkel

“I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain, it’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain….”

or “Like a rat in a maze, the path before me lies.  And the pattern never alters…until the rat dies.”

or “Hello darkness my old friend….”

So, he changed his listening and singing habits.  Paul is saying in this passage that one avenue into our hearts for the Holy Spirit’s filling is the things we listen to and sing.

Thanksgiving in the New Year

Finally, Paul says,

…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (vs. 20)

Thanksgiving is another avenue for the Spirit.

In the next post we’ll look at trusting God as another great new years’ theme.  For now, here is Francis Chan reflecting on these verses in a few minutes: