New Year’s Eve 2013 Sermon

Psalm 90:1-12
Numbering our Days

The Lord is our dwelling place. He has been our shelter since the beginning of time, because through him the mountains were brought forth. From everlasting to everlasting he is our God. An opinion, a feeling, a personal experience, or any other truth we design for ourselves cannot erase the truth that the Lord God is God. There are individuals that believe that reliance upon God negates a persons individual strength to do things for themselves. There are some that believe that God is just a simple addition to their lives. God is not a negative in the equation of our lives. God is not just another factor to add to our lives. God is our dwelling place and without him, we are without a home for eternity.

While you cannot understand his wonderful was and his unsearchable judgments, find rest and peace tonight in the truth that his intentions are always good and his purposes do not fail.

As you consider your days and years, learn to say with St. Paul, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” One of the ways we learn to join St. Paul in trusting God at work happens in midst of suffering. Numbering our days during joys is fun. It is easier to recount a year that has been full of good news. The year goes by quickly and the year ahead is filled with anticipation. When a year fills with sorrows the days are slower and there is no desire to number those days. Yet the days are known by the Lord either way.

When Magdalene, the 14-year-old daughter of Martin Luther, lay sick, her father prayed, “Lord, I love her very much and should like to keep her, but dear Lord, since it is your will to take her away, I am glad to know that she will be with you.”

The strength to live in that day of sorrow when one we care about is ill can only be found if we live in the strength of our Lord God. In the very strength that formed the mountains and held back the waters, we find the strength of the one who knows a thousand years as clearly as he knows yesterday or as he watches over this night.

It is this strength in which we must stand as we number our days because he knows our days from beginning to end. There will be moments of doubt when the Lord God appears hidden from our days. But I do not want you to doubt, C. S. Lewis spoke of the mood of doubt, saying, “Now faith … is the art of holding on to things your reason has accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever your view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but,” Lewis continues, “when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods ‘where they get off,’ you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion.”

C. S. Lewis understood that Faith in God if only based on a mood will not hold strong. If our faith is only based on ourselves and our own experiences we will find ourselves soon measuring our days upon our ruler of good and bad. But the workings of God our beyond our own plans. Tonight I ask you to trust not in your mood, even if it is strong tonight, because our moods can be fickle.

Either you dwell in the truth of the Lord, or you wander in the wickedness of the lie of the devil. The goal of the devil, the goal of our own sinful flesh is to replace Jesus’ words with the lie so that we trust in ourselves as if we were gods ourselves and that we do not need the Lord God to be our rescue.The devil has one lie, only one lie and it is the same lie he has been using for generations. He may put different spins and deceptions, different clothes on this lie, but yet it remains the tool he goes to time and again.

If you come to church to search for a better feeling, to finally feel good, then you can chase that lie time and again. Most Christians and non-Christians chase after that lie of life being about feeling good. It is a national past time to search for that loving feeling. We avoid hurt, conflict, discomfort, and so many difficult truths. We wonder about God and think that if God is good then I should be able to find him by learning to feel good. If I don’t feel good, then it must not be from God.

But wait a minute. I am a sinner. I don’t like the feeling of knowing about what I have done wrong, so I will follow the lie of Satan and avoid that feeling.

Instead of dwelling with the Lord where I know the sorrow of my sin, I will dwell in my own lies and satisfactions, or I will chase after the next motivational speaker, great band, cool light show, or next great plan of steps to success that give me feelings of completion, or maybe I will give up on all that personal improvement stuff and just find a smooth drink that makes me feel good for a little while.

Chasing the good feeling to find God is dangerous. The deception of finding God in your own personal experiences is that the devil is adept at manipulating your experiences to turn your satisfaction into your own works instead of relying on the mystery of the work of the Lord.

The lie of Satan as you try to number your days upon your own satisfactions is that you can you find God in your own heart. As C. S. Lewis said your mood is fickle and maybe it was just your digestion. Because the dark side of the lie of finding God in your feeling is inevitable even though we try to avoid it, what about after the bankruptcy, the divorce, the layoff, the foreclosure, or the cloudy day when you don’t see the endless rays of sunshine. On those days, if God is found in that loving feeling, you will wake up and blame your loss of feeling on God, Christianity, a friend, or yourself. You will then try anything to find that feeling again… chasing… numbering your days on how you feel. Trying to stay in a day, in a moment of good feelings as long as you can.

The Word of God, the Bible does not teach us to find God in that loving feeling that maybe is just our digestion. The truth is we must first no the ugly feeling, the feeling we so much try to avoid. Paul wrote about it to the Corinthians, “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God.”

Our hope will be unshaken, we will even be able to share in our suffering, because we share in the comfort of knowing Jesus Christ is our salvation.

When Jesus was baptized by John, the voice from heaven did not say, “This is my son, doesn’t it feel good to see him.” Noooo. Our heavenly father said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

When Jesus was on the mount of transfiguration and had taken with him Peter, James, and John, Peter wanted to stay on that mountain where it felt so good to see Moses, Elijah, and Jesus talking. But the cloud descended on that mountain. The good feelings soon were filled with confusion and the voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

This is the reality of numbering our days with God. Some days will be confusing, some will not feel good, regardless of how the days feel, I will trust in the Lord God to be my salvation. My trust is built on the truth and promise of God in Christ Jesus. My salvation is not found in how I feel, but in what God has done for me. You are saved by Jesus because he died for you. He sacrificed his days, he allowed the numbering of his days to stop. He died for you, so that for eternity your days could be numbered with God.

Our spirituality does not search a feeling. Our spirituality lives in the teaching that Jesus is the one in whom heavenly and earthly have become one. Jesus took upon himself our divided and fractured and frustrated lives and was nailed to the cross. But you know the story, he did not stay dead.

God numbers our days through the work of Jesus. If we try to number our days based on our own feelings, then we will come up short. If we number our days in Jesus Christ, then our days will be for eternity.

Emotions are wonderful and feelings are gifts from God, but they are not the gospel, the good news of our salvation in Christ Jesus. Rules, traditions, methods and disciplines may make you feel a certain way, but the source of God’s revelation of himself to you is Jesus Christ. If you want real wisdom, follow the word of God.

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