Printable PDF: 12-31-2019 New Year’s Eve Sermon
David R. Clark ~ New Year’s Eve ~ December 31, 2019 ~ Jeremiah 24:6-7
WHAT CAN THE FAITHFUL EXPECT IN 2020?
6My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. 7I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.
Dear friends in our newborn Savior,
Has this been a good year for you? I know we’ve lost people. There have been illnesses and tragedies and failed marriages. There have also been births and baptisms and confirmations and marriages and graduations and new jobs and new homes. Overall I get the impression that things have gone pretty well for our people. Standing on the precipice of a new year, it’s pretty easy to look back and see all of that.
If we turn ourselves around, we can also look forward. I know we don’t know exactly what this new year will hold. But I think suggesting it’s a total mystery is shortsighted. There are things we know will happen as we look forward to 2020. That forward look is one Jeremiah shared with his people, too.
- The Lord will watch over us.
6My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them.
At this time of year I often think back to a parsonage we lived in. The back yard had not been put in. There was no fence, no grass, nothing. Before we could put that new sod down we had to remove some very large weeds. They were so large that you actually had to dig them up. We dug them up because we didn’t want them coming up through new sod. That’s what the Lord was telling the people of Judah whom he had sent into exile. He had not torn them up like those weeds so that they would be thrown away and die. It was more like sod on a sod farm only to move them. He would bring them back and replant them.
He also promises to build them up. I read a newspaper story years ago about an historical landmark home in San Antonio in the middle of a new right-of-way. Instead of tearing the building down, they went to great expense to move that building in one piece to another site where it would rest safely and comfortably. Jeremiah tells them as they look forward that God was not going to tear them down; he was going to build them up.
The Lord also says, “My eyes will watch over them for their good.” God was not promising them if you are a believer, God is going to make everything peachy-keen. In fact, just the opposite was true. They had been uprooted and forced to leave family, job opportunities, and home behind. He promised to watch over them and keep them safe, turning evil into good. Although daily life could be difficult, they would see just how God had watched over them and guided people and governments for their benefit.
As citizens of heaven, you and I are also living in a foreign land. While we are used to that, sometimes life can be very uncomfortable while we wait for Jesus to return. Although we are living in a time of plenty, some of us still struggle financially. Although we live in a time of low unemployment, some still do not have jobs. There are marriages on the rocks. There is illness. It would be easy to either take the good for granted or be surprised when it’s not what we would like it to be.
But we are not alone. Our Lord has promised to faithfully watch over us. The Lord will not uproot us. He will build us up and return us to our heavenly home. That may be very difficult to see sometimes. But he will watch over us and build us up and plant us. This is what all the faithful can expect in 2020.
- The Lord will draw us ever closer to him.
Those wonderful blessings can seem a little impersonal because all believers have that promise. God knows each of us intimately and desires to draw us ever closer to him. That is what this means: 7I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.
A heart to know the Lord means to know that he is the Lord – the one from whom all these blessings come. It means to know who our Savior is. It means to understand that Jesus’ blood and righteousness are ours and that this God has personally saved us.
When we come to faith, it’s sort of like meeting someone at a party. You may know their name and some basic information about them, but that’s it. But if that acquaintance invites you to their home for dinner, to enjoy fellowship, and you spend a great deal of time in learning that person’s outlook on life, the major joys and sorrows and goals of their life, you get to know them even better. Maybe your relationship progresses to birthday and Christmas gifts or having them help you with some home improvement. You are no longer an acquaintance, you are an intimate of that person. The more time you spend with the person, listening and caring about them, the closer you draw to that person. You get to know him, he gets to know you. You go from acquaintances to best friends.
And that’s what God has promised you in 2020. God invites you to know him better. He invites you to his house to share his special Supper with us. He describes his thoughts and joys and sorrows and goals – even to the point of writing them down. He will listen and be with us during joys and sorrows in our lives. He will give us good gifts, not just for our birthday and Christmas, but every day of our lives. All of this because it’s not enough for him that we are acquainted with him, he wants to know us and draw us ever closer. You can count on it again in 2020. Amen