So how is the New Year going for you? How are you coming along with those pesky little resolutions? Have you lost those lbs. gained over the holidays? Are you working out regularly, eating right and spending less? No? Me either. I could do better. I could always do better. If someone would just live the perfect life for me. Oh, I guess Someone did. His name is Jesus.
What do you believe about Jesus? For that matter, what do you believe about God, about how the universe got here, about the nature of humankind, about heaven, about hell, about salvation, about where it is all headed? Does it really matter what a person believes?
This first month of the year we are going through a preaching series called ENGAGE. It’s about engaging with God, engaging with God’s word, the Bible. It’s about engaging with those around us, starting at home. It’s about engaging in a conversation about things that matter, things that last—eternal things. It’s about engaging in worship and in prayer. It’s about not sitting still in our walk with the Lord. It’s about not being complacent with our spiritual growth. It’s about preparing to dig in to what we as Christians actually believe and hold dear from the pages of the Bible.
In 586 B.C. the people of the southern kingdom, Judah, were taken into captivity to Babylon (modern day Iraq). They were there for 70 years without God’s word, without worship, without the Temple, and probably without much hope that things would ever change. Then hope turned into reality when they were able to go back home to Judea, to Jerusalem. Here is what we read about that time in the book of Nehemiah, chapter 8:
So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. (vv. 2-3)
That is always the first step, listening attentively to God’s Word. Are your ears attentive to what God has to say? Is your heart ready to receive his message? Then the account continues:
Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. (vv. 5-6)
It was a new day for the people. They were sorry for their past sins and neglect of the Word of God. They were thankful to be back home. They shouted “Amen,” which means essentially, “Lord, may your Word have its way with us—may your Word and will be done among us and in us and through us!”
Ultimately God’s will was accomplished in the sending of His Son Jesus to be Israel’s Messiah and Savior and our Savior as well. His death means forgiveness. His resurrection means life. His return in glory means hope.
Get engaged. Stay engaged. What you and I believe does matter, in this life and in the life to come.
Happy New Year, in Jesus! Amen! Amen!