Cultivate for the Lord – A New Years Sermon

Introduction

In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth, and they were good.

And God made man in His image; man and woman made He. And they were very good.

The Mission

15Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.

— Genesis 2:15
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And this was very good. (21,22) From the outset man has needed and has had a purpose. Before sin and death entered the world life was very good indeed. But that all changed when Adam violated the one law of God. “Do not eat of the knowledge of the tree of good and evil.” And the punishment for Adam came swiftly from God. We find it in Genesis 3:17 thus:

The Verdict

17Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.

18“Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field;

19By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”

— Genesis 3:17–19
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We toil. We sweat. We labor. That is what much of this life consists of. Today I want to take some time to reflect upon what this is all about. To reflect upon how we go forward in our labors here, and now.

We have begun a new year, a time when many take stock and reflect. So let us reflect on our labors here and now, and cultivate a righteous plan as we go forward.

Imitators of God: Ephesians 5:1-5

Imitators of God as Beloved Children:
  1. Giving of thanks
  2. Walk in Love
    1. As Christ:
      1. loved us
      2. gave Himself for us as an offering and sacrifice to God.
      3. Kindhearted
      4. Forgiving
      5. He would not break a bruised reed
      6. nor extinguish a smoldering ember.

23…?whatever is not from faith is sin.

— Romans 14:23
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All of our actions must be to mirror our heavenly Father here and now. We can no longer be self willed, operating as an island in our minds. Rather we must co-labor with the Lord, and recognize it is He who does the lions share. That is how beloved children operate. They glorify their parents not in mere lip service, (though their tongues are well constrained) but they honor them in their actions.

Not as sons of disobedience
  1. Not with sexual immorality
    1. nor any impurity.
  2. Not with greed
    1. Nor covetousness.
  3. No filthiness of life and speech
    1. Nor silly talk
    2. Nor coarse jesting.
  4. With no idolatry:
    1. the idol of self
    2. the idol of sex
    3. the idol of money
    4. the idols of false god’s
      1. the philosophy’s of men
      2. the norms of society
      3. the false teachers, preachers, and prophets.
    5. The lust of the flesh.
    6. The lust of the eyes.
    7. The pride of life.

Such ones have no place in the kingdom of heaven. We have much to ponder as we embark on the journeys of the day. We must choose today whom we will serve.

Shall we be beloved children or disobedient?

Everyday we must affirm the righteous choice, or slide back to the unrighteous habits of disobedience. Everyday we’ve got to wake up and want to serve the Lord more than any other thing. Failing that, we put an idol ahead of Him and become sons of disobedience.

Do not be partakers with them: Ephesians 5:6-14

The temptations of the devil are full of emptiness. He promises more than he can provide. His lies are tailored to your likes.

We must not be partakers of evil things. For the wrath of God is poured out against the disobedient. We are children of light.

Our work, our words, our thoughts, these must be filled with light:

the fruit of light
  • goodness
  • righteousness
  • truth
  • trying to learn what is pleasing to our Lord.

When we have taken up light our first question in our endeavors is, “what is pleasing to my Lord?” From this question the good gets sorted from the bad. When we have the darkness of bad in our lives we must expose it to the light. We must let the purifying way of Christ set us to right once again.

The sun shines ultra violet light everyday. Fun facts about UV rays; they kill most bacteria and virus’. The Light of Christ Jesus is like spiritual ultra-violet light; it destroys the sin and corruption that it is allowed to touch.

“Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

We must lay open our lives to the Light of Jesus. From His purifying light we are redeemed from death. He is the Light sent from heaven to guide the beloved children of God back home.

Let us be careful: Ephesians 5:15-17

We have a new year before us, and a whole year behind us. We are assuredly different than we were this time last year. Hopefully we are improved. But if you are not improved, now is the time to start. And if you are improved, don’t stop now.

Let us develop the mind like Paul on this.

We must walk with circumspection. We, like Paul, should see all the pleasures of the world, all of our own glory as loss in contrast to the value of knowing Christ Jesus.

Let’s pick up the wisdom of God this coming year. Let’s pick it up and use it every day all day.

The days are evil. They grind away at you if you let them. Before you know it 2019 will be upon us. So make every day, the day of our Lord. Lets give Him the the victory over our hearts. Lets leave the battle of wills behind, and give it all to Him joyously and without consternation.

Let’s learn the will of our Lord and do it.

Our labor is good: Ecclesiastes 2:24-26

Everyday we have tasks before us. We will all die with an unfinished todo list. To think that our end is to only labor with our hands is indeed vanity and striving after the wind.

But it is a good thing to labor in good things. To feel full, content and at peace in our labors, such is indeed from God.

Let us then labor with:
  • Wisdom
  • Knowledge
  • Skill
  • and Joy

29Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.

— Proverbs 22:29
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The knowledge and wisdom of God should be what defines our labors.

The two skill sets to develop in our labors:
  1. The technical skills of our occupations.
  2. The spiritual skills of our Master.

The first comes from study, application, and practice. After about five years of full time effort, you will likely be extremely skillful.

The second comes in much the same way. But we must study not the technical manuals of our profession, nor the trade magazines. Rather, we must study the wisdom of God.
Get wisdom! And with it understanding!

Know what is the will of the Lord. Apply His will to your way of life. Practice His way of doing things in all things. With time and practice wisdom takes root from understanding. It grows into a tree of life-giving truth; rooted in the righteousness of God.

We must diligently labor: 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13

Christian people are willing to work and to grind it out. We lead disciplined lives of service to God and our fellow man. We are not the sort who go about causing trouble. Rather we are the sort who serve with love and kindness.

We are not to be busybodies

Busybody
  1. a meddler “one who puts his spoon in someone else’s cup”
  2. to waste one’s labor; the goldbricker, that is someone who only appears to be working, but is in fact wasting time, energy, and resources to effect that appearance.

We work in a quiet fashion; without making a big fuss. We are content with our own bread, giving no thought to the food of another; except to ensure that they have what they need.

This sort of quiet contentment is the sort of joy the preacher of Ecclesiastes was writing about. We can take pleasure in the day by day. We labor not wasting our time, but to the effective work, laboring as unto the Lord. So that in our labor we may have something to share with another who has need.

And this laboring cuts in both spheres of life:
The physical
For when we labor and gain the physical blessing we have abundance to share from.
The spiritual
When we labor spiritually our hearts overflow with love, joy, compassion and much more. From this we can give wisdom, kindness, and even hope to those who have ears to hear it.

All of this because we are happy to be given to the Lord.

The workmanship of God: Ephesians 2:10

Christians are made for doing good works. One of the greatest works we can be doing is to bring those outside of the Christ home into the family of God.

This we do out of the abundant joy we have in the Lord; not out of some odd desire to earn our way into heaven.

He has given us so much in Jesus, it is only natural that we should seek to do-good-by the gift He has given us.

For He Himself is our peace…?

And what perfect peace there is in Jesus.

Conclusion

I wish I could say that 2017 had been a year of such Jesus filled peace for me. But it hasn’t.

There has been much inner turmoil and external turmoil. I have grown weary of doing good many times. I have grown weary of those I love, of my tasks, of my very life more times than I care to admit. But one thing is always and ever present: the love of God shown to me through Jesus.

How can I forfeit so rich a blessings out of the despair of the moment.

2018’s theme is going to be “Wisdom in My House” I hope and pray that we will all indeed have wisdom in our houses this coming year. (21) I desperately want it for my house. How about you? (21) How badly do you want wisdom? (21,22)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. As we go forward into the new year lets us consider our days. Let us understand whom we server.

He desires that we would trust Him in all things.

6Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,

7casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

— 1 Peter 5:6–7
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It begins at humility. In life we have many burdens to lift. Never lift a burden without the Lord. Leave the heavy lifting to the Lord. And know that it is He who is doing most of the lifting. For we are but men of dust, but He is infinite Spirit.

I’d like to close with two readings:

The lesson is yours; the invitation of Christ is always extended. He is always ready to receive the penitent one. He invites us all to be beloved children of our heavenly Father. The question for each of us is, “what will we do with this invitation?” (21,22)

So, what will you do with it?

Glossary

Busybody
  1. a meddler “one who puts his spoon in someone else’s cup”
  2. to waste one’s labor; the goldbricker, that is someone who only appears to be working, but is in fact wasting time, energy, and resources to effect that appearance.