Thank you, Sister Sarah, for that testimony, eulogy, I just give all the praise to God.
What an amazing thing that he did in Sarah’s father’s life and in the family, just amazing.
There’s not much I can say after that, but just praise God. God is so good. God is so good.
Isn’t that all that we can ask for, for ourselves and for our loved ones, is just to get more
like Jesus, sweeter, more lovely, more gracious, more merciful, isn’t that our prayer for ourselves, everybody around us, isn’t that all that we could ever hope to witness and experience? Praise God, praise God.
Okay, let’s pray.
Father, thank you for your mercies that are new every morning.
Thank you for a new year. We pray that you would give us direction, clarity, a purpose, a sense of hope, expectation for 2023. With you, all things are new. You make all things new, Lord.
Thank you in Jesus’ Name, Amen
I had a sermon already. I was going to talk about the seven feasts and how everything points to Jesus, and about 3 a.m. this morning, the Lord said, scrap it, that’s not it. So it’s one of those Sundays.
I praise God for Brother Matthew and the songs, his prayer. It lined up with one of the verses the Lord gave to me, Lamentations 3, verse 22 and 23. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness, Lamentations 3, 22 and 23.
I’m not sure how 2022 was for you last year. After Christmas, I kind of expect there’s going to be a wrap-up Sunday, and then it turns out, no, this is the beginning of a new year. And so I missed that chance, so 2022, we didn’t have much chance to reflect back and ask how it was if it was a bad year for you, if it was a bad month for you, if it was a bad week for you.
The great thing about God is it’s all flushed down the toilet, and today is a new day. Today is a new day. Praise the Lord for a new day. I had a really strange December. I just felt like out of sorts, flew to Korea, my jet lag, and so cold in Korea, and my Californian body couldn’t handle the wind chill, and so I couldn’t go on my walks. I couldn’t really connect with the Lord.
The food was great, the people were great, but I was physically just not adjusting. I didn’t have the proper jacket. Just December was a weird, weird month, and even this past week, there’s things in me that I’m fighting.
It’s just reminding me of what the Lord gave to me last Sunday. You take a perfect situation, as soon as I put myself in that situation, that paradise is ruined. So Lord, I think He wants me to talk about happiness.
If you’ve been unhappy with your life, you can flush it all down the toilet. It’s a new day. Every day is a new day. So thankful. His mercy is new every day. His love is steadfast. My love is not steadfast. I try to love, but it’s not steadfast. God’s love is steadfast. God doesn’t have a bad day. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus is unchanging. There is no shadow.
There’s no variation. There’s no turning. He’s not fickle. He’s not moody. He is consistent.
It says in Lamentations 3, His love is steadfast. If you had a bad year, God is not looking at you irritated, that what’s wrong with you. That’s not who God is. He is consistent. He is steadfast. And so this year, you may wonder, am I loved by God? Is He annoyed with me? I didn’t have a great year. I didn’t have a great month. I didn’t have a great week. Am I approved? Is He going to show me favor this year? All those questions, you can put it to rest. You can flush those thoughts down the toilet. It’s not true at all. You don’t have to wonder about these things.
The answer is already given. He is steadfast. He loves you. He loves you because you believe in Jesus. You have faith in Jesus. There is favor upon you. There is God’s grace upon you.
His love is steadfast. You don’t have to wonder about it. So let’s just start this year with just this confidence. God’s love toward me is unchanging. He is steadfast.
And His mercies are new every morning. Don’t we need to hear that every morning? When you had a bad month or a bad week or even a bad year, isn’t this such great news every morning?
Yesterday could have been terrible. Today is a new day. His mercies are new. What great news. What great news.
Wouldn’t you know that the very first sermon that Jesus gave in Matthew chapter 5, he starts with a theme of happiness. Happiness. He wants you and me to be happy.
We say happy new year. And with that comes with a little bit of a thought that, OK, happiness comes from a lot of money. Or happiness comes from a promotion. Happiness comes from a new job. Happiness comes from a barren womb having a child. Happiness comes from a single man or woman meeting the person of their dreams. Happiness comes from being in a great, thriving spiritual environment, a great community of believers.
And Jesus, he gives a strange picture of what happiness is. Because when he says, the word for “blessed” is markarios. It means happy. Happy is the person who is poor in spirit. Happy is the person who mourns.
And so we wonder, what is this happiness that he speaks of? And so when we say happy new year, let’s do a little bit of a translation in our head. We’re not asking for happy things to happen to you. We’re asking that you and I become happier in the new year. May a happier you and me enter into the new year. When we say happy new year, that’s our hope. We want a happier version of us.
Like last year, some days happy, some days not so happy. And so that’s why when you look back on the last year, it was good and bad. It was like a mixture.
But if a happier version of you enters into 2023, then it’s a happy year. Because you’re in it.
It doesn’t matter of the circumstances. Because last week even, it was a beautiful Christmas
Sunday, 76. degrees. You could wear a t-shirt. And then this Sunday, it was like flooding and windy and cold. Things can change radically in our lives. And I have no idea what 2023 holds for us in America, in our world. I have no idea the financial market. I have no idea the political climate. I have no idea – is COVID-23 on the horizon? I have no idea about the future.
But I know that if I am happier, if a happier me enters 2023, then it’s going to be a happy new year. And so that’s the prayer.
And the other passage that the Lord gave to me is (let’s just put it to memory) is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances.
For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.
How can we be happier? Practically, these are verses you want to put to memory. You want to put them to practice. It is a choice to rejoice. It says rejoice always. Not only when things are going well, not when your family is thriving in the Lord, and your business is thriving, and the church is thriving. No, it says, rejoice always. And so may you and I begin each day just rejoicing in the presence of the Lord. May that be how you start each day.
Because the Father wants to hear rejoicing. You want to enter His courts with thanksgiving.
You want to praise Him. And so maybe when you wake up, you don’t feel like doing it. Maybe the emotion is not there. Maybe you’re groggy. But force yourself. It’s a little unnatural at first.
But force yourself to begin your time of prayer with rejoicing. Just make it a point, I am going to praise the Lord this morning. I’m going to start my day with a sacrifice of praise. I want to begin with just creating that atmosphere of joy. And may the joy of the Lord flow in as we rejoice.
And then pray continually. Maybe you have a set prayer time. Maybe your prayer is kind of touch and go. But let’s be more consistent in prayer. It doesn’t have to be always prostrate on the floor, on the knees. But just continually, every time, just reconnecting with Jesus, giving your burdens to Jesus.
When there’s a temptation to grumble, in that moment, you ask Jesus for help. You give Jesus that situation. And you don’t allow it to grow into something that ruins your day, like you refuse to let a small thing, a big thing ruin your day. And so you resolve, I am going to pray continually. I’m going to give these things that last year ruined me, derailed me. It’s not going to happen this year. I’m going to keep giving it to Jesus, pray continually.
And then give thanks in all circumstances. How happy it is when parents hear from their children, thank you. And then that’s a reflection how much our Heavenly Father must love it so much to hear his children say, thank you.
And what do we thank him for? Maybe things are not going well in your life. And so maybe your list is quite short. But at the very least, can’t we thank him for salvation? Can’t we thank him for Jesus? Can’t we thank him that our eternity is secure? Because in the end, that’s all that matters, that we have an eternal home waiting for us.
And Jesus is preparing and sanctifying us. Our whole life journey is sanctification, becoming a spotless bride. Don’t we have so much reason to give thanks, even if that’s all there is in a day?
Everything else is going wrong, but you have much reason to give thanks in all circumstances.
Every day is a good day because we are saved, because we’re on the path of salvation,
because we have Jesus. And then from there, I’m sure there’s going to be a long list that flows from that. I’m thankful that I’m saved today. Today is a day of salvation. I have so much to give thanks.
If you live this way, I bet there would be a happier you waiting for you in 2023 in Christ Jesus. It is God’s will for you to be happy. He wants you to be happy. He wants me to be happy.
OK, let’s pray.
Father, your love toward us is steadfast. Your gifts and your calling are irrevocable. Your covenant cannot be broken. And so as people who are not steadfast, we take great comfort that you are steadfast. You alone are steadfast in your love toward us. We don’t have to wonder, how do you feel about me in this moment when I’m making a mess of my life?
I don’t have to wonder. We don’t have to wonder. The answer is already given. Your love is steadfast. You proved it by sending Jesus to us. Thank you, Lord. Your mercies are new.
So 2022, Lord, we forget about it. It is a new day, a new year. What a gift that no matter what we’re facing, we put our head to the pillow, we wake up. It is a new day. And today is a new and a fresh day to receive your mercy, your grace, your love.
You want us to be happy, Father. That’s why Jesus, in your very first sermon, the first theme
you tackled was happiness. You want us to be happy. We don’t want just a happy new year
in terms of circumstances, we want a happier me and you and us entering into the new year.
Thank you that you give us three commandments so clearly laid out in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – to rejoice always, to pray continually, and to give thanks in all circumstances. This is the will of God for all of us in Christ Jesus.
Lord, we want to begin each day with worship, adoration, praise, thanksgiving. We want to enter your courts with thanksgiving. We want to offer a sacrifice of praise. May we change the atmosphere in our lives, in our homes, in our workplaces through this praising, this choice
We also, Father, want to pray continually. There are moments when we’re on our knees. There are moments of confession. There are other moments when we’re just popcorn praying to you,
just connecting with you, just giving you our burdens as we go through our day.
We don’t want to be derailed. We don’t want to be in a foul mood. We don’t want to be burdened. We want to keep giving things to you so that you lighten our lives. You lift up our countenance.
Father, we want to pray continually in 2023. And most importantly, we want to give thanks. We don’t know how difficult or how easy 2023 will be individually or as a world citizen. But we know that you command us to give thanks. We give thanks for salvation. We give thanks for Jesus. We give thanks for eternity. We give thanks that today you have given us breath in our lungs.
We give thanks that you’ve blessed us far more than we deserve. We deserve hell and separation from you.
But, Lord, you’re steadfast in your love, your mercies are new every morning. So, Father, we thank you that today we are a recipient of such grace upon grace. Thank you, Jesus, that you came. You were born in a manger. You died on a cross. Thank you, Lord, that you allowed your body to be pierced and your blood to be shed.
We remember your death, burial, and resurrection every time we partake in the Lord’s Supper.
We pray that you minister to us, encounter us, meet us during these final moments of this service. We give you all the praise and glory for today and every day, because it is your day, Lord. It is a new day that you have blessed us with.
We bless Your Holy Name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen