In Luke 19:1-10 we read the beautiful and poignant story of the Lord Jesus reaching out to Zacchaeus, a despicable tax collector. We can clearly see how the heart of Almighty God beats for a lost world. Jesus was determined to be Zacchaeus’ Savior and Lord. This is the only place in all the gospels where Jesus invited Himself to be someone’s guest. Zacchaeus gladly received Jesus into his home, as well as into his heart. By making restitution for his sins, Zacchaeus publicly wanted the people to know that his time with Jesus had changed his life. Jesus publicly affirmed Zacchaeus’ decision by stating: “This day is salvation come to this house.” Then, the Lord Jesus announced His purpose in living in verse 10: “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The Greek word for seek is zeteite (dzay-the-ee-the). It means to go after, to strive, to pursue, to desire, to aim at, to search for, to endeavor to get, to make that which is most important your primary concern. The primary concern of Jesus is to save a lost soul. Why should we win people to Jesus? (1) Jesus commands us to do so, (2) Jesus tells us that Heaven is a real place, and (3) Jesus tells us that Hell is a real place.
To be a new you in 2016 you must stay on course. You stay on course by prayer, tithing, Bible study, and witnessing (soul winning).
(C) Bible Study – 2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV) states: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” All Southeastern Conference football player Steve Robinson presented a new New American Standard Bible to me in 1984 for assisting him as a volunteer in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Steve penned these words in the Bible, “I pray that you’ll read this precious Word of our Lord every day for it will change your life.” Psalm 119:105 (NKJV) states: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The Word of God is pure, and it is the Christian’s road map for life. You need a map (GPS) when you do not know where you are going. As believers, we walk by faith, not by sight. So, we need the Bible. Psalm 119:11 (NKJV) states: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Meditate on God’s Word daily to stay on course in 2016.
(D) Witnessing (Soul Winning) – What did Jesus say in Acts 1:8 before He went to heaven? “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” We are to tell others about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We are to lead them to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. More than our words, though, we witness with our actions, our attitudes, and our lifestyle. People watch us every day. We are the only Bible many of them ever read. Do you really want to stay on course in 2016? Be a bold witness for your Lord!
Do you really want to be a new you in 2016? You can be, but you must remember that your life must be lived according to God’s standards, and not man’s. God’s economy functions differently than does man’s economy. You cannot live the way you want, claim to be a Christian, and expect God to bless you. Almighty God blesses a nation according to the individual lives of its people. Proverbs 14:34 (NKJV) states: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Righteousness begins in each heart in each family. To be a new you in 2016 you must be born again, you must be committed to Christ, you must be disciplined, and you must stay on course as a Christian by prayer, tithing, Bible study, and witnessing (soul winning). Live for Christ radically in 2016! Take what you are learning in your church into the marketplace of the world!
To be a new you in 2016 you must stay on course. You stay on course by prayer, tithing, Bible study, and witnessing (soul winning).
(A.) Prayer (1Thess. 5:17 NKJV): “Pray without ceasing.” WOW! The living God wants to hear from us all the time: at home, on the job, at play, and at church. God wants to hear from you every day. We talk to God through the privilege of prayer. Prayer is your communication to God. Pray about everything. Nothing is too big or too small to talk to your God about! God is a God of details. In Matt.7:7 (NKJV) Jesus states: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” One of the reasons prayers go unanswered is when the person praying has unconfessed sin in their life. Psalm 66:18 (NKJV) states: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” Confess your sin first to Almighty God, make it right with your fellow man, and then walk on with Jesus. The strongest Christians I know are people of prayer. God has raised some great people to do great work in His name, but they had great prayer lives. They also had great prayer warriors praying for them daily. Jesus prayed. He has taught us how to pray with the model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Billy Graham states: “Heaven is full of answered prayers for which no one ever bothered to ask.” Pray without ceasing. To stay on course in 2016, pray.
(B.) Tithe. A tithe means a tenth. Deut.14:22 (NKJV) states: “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year.” Everything you own is God’s, and all he asks is that you give 10% back to Him. People cannot understand that this is a commandment of God! God founded the church to equip the believers for the work of ministry and He funds the work of the church with the tithe. Malachi 3:10 (NKJV) states: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’” God’s work cannot function on a prayer and a shoestring. That is why He designed the tithe. God wants to bless us. Mal.3:10 tells us that if we tithe, we won’t have enough room to hold all God sends us…Almighty God opens the windows of heaven! The way we prompt God to do this is by obedience to His commands to give 10% of all He gives to us! Glory! People get saved! People grow in their walk with their Lord! People in the church are happy! You reach your community for Christ! You give to missions! God blesses and He raises up committed men and women to go into all the world to proclaim the glorious gospel message from your church. Paul tells us in 2 Cor.9:6-7 (NKJV): “But this I say: ‘He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.’” So let each one give as He purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” Remember this: God doesn’t need our money to function, because He owns it all. The tithe is His plan to fund His work in the world of making disciples of all nations. When God commands us to tithe, we are to tithe! He then blesses it and uses it greatly! Our great God cannot, nor does He bless a people who do not tithe. Pastor Blevins said: “Do your givin’ while you’re livin’ so you’re knowin’ where it’s goin.” To stay on course in 2016, tithe.
To be a new you in 2016 you must be disciplined. Discipline is training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. Lev. 20:7 (NKJV) states: “Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God.” You can’t live any old way you please and expect to be a new person. You must be holy!
Holiness doesn’t mean you are perfect as a human being. It means you are living in God’s forgiveness and growing in His grace daily. Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV) states: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
You are not your own! Paul tells us that we have been bought with a price; the precious blood of Jesus on the CROSS at Calvary. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor.6:19-20 (NKJV) states: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
Give your God a clean house in which to live in 2016. Billy Graham states: “The great Christians throughout history have been men and women of great personal discipline.” To be a new you in 2016 you must be disciplined.
To be a new you in 2016, you must be committed. To commit yourself means you entrust yourself. You obligate yourself to a task. In Psalm 37:5 (NKJV) David tells us: “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in him, and He shall bring it to pass.”
The word that scares people in the church to death is commitment. People just want to be along for the ride; push a pew if you will; go along to get along. Let somebody else do it. The gospel of the Lord Jesus is a gospel of activity in the Lord. The first two letters of the word gospel are go. In Matt. 28:19-20 (NKJV) Jesus states: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The Christian faith is not passive. It is an active faith! You are either committed to God or to yourself. In Matt. 6:24 (NKJV) Jesus states: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” You just think that you are straddling the fence. You are not! You are attempting to serve two masters. Jesus said you cannot do that and be successful. God’s people are not committed, and it is the very reason that the church is not making the difference in the world as God has called it to do. It is not just coming to church. It is being the church in the world! It is exemplifying the Lord Jesus in your actions, attitudes, and lifestyle.
In 2016, I dare you to be the salt of the earth! In Matt. 5:13 (NKJV) Jesus states: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” Spice this old world up with radical Christian living!
In 2016, I dare you to be the light of the world! We are living in dark, evil days. Jack Stanton said: “The darker the day; the brighter you can shine!” Never in history has there been a more exciting time to be a Christian than today! In Matt.5:16 (NKJV) Jesus states: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Don’t worry that your commitment to Christ in 2016 will hurt you. In Matt. 6:33 (NKJV) Jesus states: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” To be a new you in 2016, you must be committed! Are you?
The living God of heaven and earth wants to bless you in 2016! In John 10:10 (NKJV) the Lord Jesus tells us: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” You must remember that your life must be lived according to God’s standards, not man’s. Our great God’s economy functions differently than does man’s economy. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV): “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” You cannot live the way you want, claim to be a Christian, and expect God to bless you. Ted Koppel of ABC News Nightline fame stated many years ago: “The Ten Commandments are not the ten suggestions.”
The first way to be a new you in 2016 is to be in Christ. The Apostle Paul states in 2 Cor. 5:17 (NKJV): “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” When you are in Christ, you are first and foremost born again. In John 3:3 (NKJV) Jesus states: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Have you been born again? Do you know without a shadow of a doubt that you will go to heaven when you die? A person who is born again is one who has accepted the death of Jesus on the CROSS for their sins. They repent of their sins and make Christ their personal Lord and Savior by faith.
JESUS shed His pure, sinless blood on the CROSS for you and me. He died, but on the third day, He arose from the grave victorious. You can’t be a new you if you’re not clean inside and out. Being washed in the blood of Jesus is the only way to really be clean inside and out. Salvation secures your home in heaven eternally, and guarantees you an abundant life in this life.
You can make all of the resolutions you desire in 2016 to change yourself, but the way to begin is to be born again. Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 5:17 that old things are passed away and all things have become new. You can’t change your outward appearance only and be totally new. You have to be changed from the inside out. It is called regeneration. In Matt. 9:17, Jesus tells us that men do not put new wine into old wineskins, because the wineskins burst, the wine pours out, and the wineskins are ruined. You put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved. You cannot combine the old with the new.
When David committed adultery with Bathsheba and had Uriah, her husband, killed, he cried out to God in Psalm 51:2,7 (NKJV): “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be whiter than snow.” To be a new you in 2016 you must be in Christ. Are you in Christ?
Someone once said: “Timing is everything.” In our great God’s economy He has all the time in the world! He lives in eternity where time never ends.
The living God of heaven and earth controls each clock in the world system. “Daniel answered and said: ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness; And light dwells with him’” (Daniel 2:20-22 NKJV).
Our great God turned back the sun in 2 Kings 20:11(NKJV): “So Isaiah the prophet cried out to the Lord, and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down on the sundial of Ahaz.” He stopped the sun in Joshua 10:12-14 (NKJV): “Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: ‘Sun stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.’ So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel.” The ONE who can turn back the sun and stop the sun can certainly control time!
Almighty God gave Solomon the mind to say this about time in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NKJV): “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.”
JESUS was born at the right time (Luke 2:7). JESUS died on the CROSS for our sins at the right time (Luke 23:46). JESUS was resurrected from the grave at the right time (Mark 16:9).
One day soon time, as we now know it, will end. JESUS will return and everyone who has been born again will live forever in heaven with Him (Matthew 25:31-46). The song says: “When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time will be no more. And the morning breaks eternal bright and fair. Then the saved of earth will gather to their home beyond the sky. When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.” Will you be in heaven when time ends for you in this temporary life? If not, I plead with you to call on the name of the Lord Jesus to save you today. “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13 NKJV).
The seventh cry of Jesus from the Cross is found in Luke 23:46 (NKJV) “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last.” Jesus voluntarily gave up His spirit. Normally, when people died from crucifixion they would wither away slowly. Not our Jesus. He gave up His spirit when he was ready to give it up. He died at the moment He chose to die. Jesus was fully conscious until He said: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”
The Bible tells us that the veil of the temple was torn from the top to the bottom when Jesus died. God sent an earthquake, graves were opened after His resurrection, and many saints went into Jerusalem and appeared to many people. The veil in the temple separated the holy of holies from the rest of the temple. Only the High Priest could go into the holy of holies and approach God by offering a blood sacrifice for the sins of the people. Only God could tear this curtain from top to bottom. No man was big enough to do it. God showed the world that the way of access into His presence was now available to everyone. In other words, we can pray directly to God. We do not have to confess to the pope or the priest. We have a direct line to the throne room of the living God!
You can come to Jesus just as you are. Hebrews 10:19-22 (NKJV) states: “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
Yes, JESUS died on that old rugged CROSS. Yes, JESUS was buried in a borrowed tomb for three days. Yes, JESUS arose from that grave! This very hour, JESUS is seated at the right hand of His Heavenly Father making intercession for us as we pray. One day very soon He is coming back to take us to heaven with Him and we will be there forever! Glory!
The sixth cry of Jesus from the Cross is found in John 19:30 (NKJV): “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” Jesus spoke the Greek word from the Cross, Tetelestai, which means, “it is finished.” The redemptive work that God had sent Him to do was finished, complete. Our sin debt was paid in full.
No one made Jesus do it. He had full control over the giving of His life. In John 10:17-18 (NKJV) Jesus said: “Therefore My Father loves me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, But I lay it down of Myself, I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
Jesus suffered for you and me. He didn’t have to do it. He chose to do it! The world has never been the same. All of creation and all of mankind was affected by the crucifixion. Tetelestai: “It is finished.” I want to live my life for JESUS because He willingly gave His life for me!
The fifth cry of Jesus from the Cross is found in John 19:28 (NKJV) “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst!’” We see the humanity of Jesus. He was thirsty. He was 100% God and 100% man. Jesus is the water of life, yet He died thirsty for a drink of water. They gave Him vinegar, a sour cheap wine. Psalm 69:21 (NKJV) was fulfilled. “They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”
In John 7:37-38 (NKJV) Jesus said: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Why is it that God would let the living water die thirsty? God had to let Jesus experience all that we experience so that Jesus could identify with us when we hurt. The kind of spiritual water that flows from Jesus will never run dry. What did Jesus tell the woman at the well? John 4:13-14 (NKJV): “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
David, the man after God’s heart, said: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2 NKJV). Jesus said from the Cross: “I thirst.” Your “spiritual thirst” can only be quenched by the Lord Jesus! Call on His holy name today and He will become your Lord and Savior and give you a “spiritual drink” that will quench your thirst for all of eternity. I love you!