Well, Sunday is the day! We will be in a new year. The sun will begin to rise in the west, the moon will be full every day, it will only rain between one and four o’clock (AM of course), diseases will all be cured, cars will all drive on air and Congress will get some work done. It will be a glorious year! Really! Well, really? That is rather what we all expect in many ways of the new year. Anticipation is always greater than reality in all of our minds.
We meet the “perfect” girl. (I am a man writing this, OK.) Suddenly the sun shines, the flowers burst forth in bloom, the birds sing, the radiance of pure joy envelops us and we know, just positively know, that it will be like this for the rest of our lives. Then the pastor goes and says something completely unlikely at our wedding. “For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health til’ death do us part,” and he makes us say it. Of course, none of those things is likely to happen. We will always be comfortably well off, have five beautiful blue eyed blond haired babies who each will become a doctor or professor and live on the same block where we live. Our grandchildren and great grandchildren will all love and honor us until in the fullness and vigor of health we will quietly slip into eternity at age 100.
That is how so many people embrace the new year and by January 10 are sorely disappointed. That is also the way too many people embrace the thought of becoming a Christian. God is the God of big promises so I will never be poor, lonely, sick or sad again until Jesus comes back. Heretics preach this nonsense from their pulpits and invite people to be born again to health and prosperity. Then the new life doesn’t turn out just that way and people say that God failed them.
The Bible gives a different view of the new life in Christ. Jesus said that if the world hated Him it would hate us. Jesus said that in this world we would have tribulation, that is the troubles of life would hit us as well. Paul said that we are to use the comfort God gives us in our times of trouble to comfort the lost so that they will see a God who really matters in real life. The true anticipation of new life is in the reality of sins forgiven, a Friend that sticks closer than a brother, comfort in sorrow, hope in despair, rejoicing in hope and eternity with Christ. These are all promises for the new life that are honest and sure.
With these is the constant assurance that “Jesus Never Fails”. Arthur Luther wrote this beautiful hymn and we should anticipate its truth for us in the New Year.
Earthly friends may prove untrue, doubts and fears assail; One still loves and cares for you, One who will not fail. (Chorus)
Tho’ the sky be dark and drear, fierce and strong the gale, just remember He is near, and He will not fail. (Chorus)
In life’s dark and bitter hour love will still prevail, trust His everlasting pow’r—Jesus never fails. (Chorus)
Chorus: Jesus never fails, Jesus never fails; heav’n and earth may pass away, but Jesus never fails.
The Friday Benediction
Until Monday, my friends, may the good God envelop you with His grace; may you prove the common confession of faith, “I believe in the holy Christian church and in the fellowship of the saints”, and may you be enriched with joy and hope as you exercise that confession this weekend. Amen
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