New Years Day 2017

New Year’s Day 2017

Message: ‘Do good’                                                   Text: Various

Introduction: Today, many pastors will stand in pulpits and talk about making New Year’s resolutions. Usually it’s:

  • Giving something up.
  • Stopping something.
  • Changing our attitudes or behaviors, as we enter the new year.

And that shouldn’t be surprising, since you’ve probably already done it yourself.

  • You resolved to give up a bad behavior.
  • You resolved to lose weight.
  • Perhaps you resolved to stop watching a favorite but addictive TV show.

But this year, rather than ask you to stop or quit doing something, I’m going to ask you to start doing something, and to do it more.

  • I am asking that your 2017 New Year’s resolution will be… to do good.

Now, you may be thinking, Hey, I already do good… as often as I can. It’s my hope that by the end of this message, you might think differently, at least when it comes to the phrase… as often as I can.

Transition: So, where do we start? The only legitimate place… is with God.

  1. God is good

Read: Psalm 106:1; 25:8; 34:8; Nahum 1:7a;

  • Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!
  • Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in the way.
  • Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
  • The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble…

Over and over again in Scripture, we find the declaration that God is good. And every time, it’s made by someone who found it to be true, in their own life.

We sing ‘God is So Good’ ‘God is Good All the Time,’ ‘Good, Good Father.’ And I pray, that as the words roll off your lips, there’s joy in your heart, because you’ve tasted and found God to be good… in your life!

You see, God, in His very nature, in what makes God, God, is good, wholly, in every way and always… good.

But, there are times in our lives when we doubt God’s goodness. Often, because we’re lost in complaining.

  • We compare ourselves to others, and Satan, the great deceiver, whispers in our ears that we deserve better, or more.
  • We forget God’s goodness when we suffer hardship, illness, or the loss of a job. Because we’ve also forgotten that God was with us, close to us, loving us, holding us together, every step, of every other time, we walked a difficult path.

You see, I think the heart of the problem is this:

  • We think that goodness is defined by our experience; whether or not, we’ve deemed something to be good based on how it affected us.
  • But what defines goodness, is not my or any one else’s experience. Goodness, is defined by the source of goodness… God.

ILL: One of God’s faithful missionaries, Allen Gardiner, experienced many physical difficulties and hardships throughout his service to God. Despite his troubles, he said, “While God gives me strength, failure will not daunt me.”

In 1851, at the age of 57, he died of disease and starvation while serving on Picton Island at the southern tip of South America. When his body was found, his diary lay nearby. It bore the record of hunger, thirst, wounds, and loneliness. The last entry in his little book showed the struggle of his shaking hand as he tried to write legibly. It read,

  • I am overwhelmed with a sense of the goodness of God. (Jeffrey Richards)

Allen Gardiner understood that the source of goodness, was not his experience, but his God… who is altogether good! And it made all the difference to him.

Church, has God been good to you? He’s been good to you, because God is good!

  1. Because God is good, do good to all!

Read: Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 6:10

  • I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
  • So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Gal. 6:10)

OK, say you want to do good in 2017. How do you know what’s good? We’ve been so influenced by the worldview that

  • Good is what you make it, good is what’s good to you.

So, when we do good, it’s based on how it’ll affect us, individually… in other words, we often do good, somehow, for our benefit.

Church, remember,

  • Good is not defined by experience, by how what we do affects us in the long run.
  • Good, is defined by the source, God.

So that means, as God’s people, we define good by God’s standards. And we find those standards in His Word, the Bible. From Romans 12:1-2, we know what good is.

  • It’s offering our lives, sacrificing our wants, desires, opinions, even our comforts, to know God’s will.
  • When we do that, the worldview that good is what we make it, will no longer influence us.
  • Instead our minds will be transformed, changed, to view what’s good from God’s perspective. And by following and obeying His will, we’ll know what good is and in the process, we’ll actually be doing good.

You see, our faith that God is good, that His will is good, results in us seeking to do good. The Apostle Paul understood that’s it’s in the Believers DNA to do good.

  • For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
  • For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11–14)

Not only were we created by God to do good, Paul, in his letter to Titus, reminds us that we’re to be zealous for good works.

I looked up the word zealous, it means:

  • enthusiastic, eager, even impatient, to do good.

Look, I believe, all of you, are willing to do good. If Kathy and I had a fire in the parsonage:

  • You’d give us a place to stay.
  • You’d give us meals to eat.
  • You’ve give us a place to shower and wash our clothes.
  • You’d even help us clean up after the mess.

But that’s not what the word zealous represents.

  • It means that we’re obsessed with doing good.
  • It means we go out of our way, even when it’s inconvenient, expensive, or unpopular to do good.
  • It means we actively look for opportunities to do good.
  • It means doing good is our passion.

Folks, God is serious about His children doing good. So much so, that He wants me and the other Elders to remind you… over and over again if necessary.

  • God wants us to help you make doing good an intentional part of your everyday life.

Listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote to Titus.

  • The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. (Titus 3:8)

Did you hear the words: trustworthy, insist, careful, devote, excellent, profitable? They’re words that should motivate us, to do good. The idea is to give attention to, to allow doing good to preside over other things in your life.

And it’s profitable. How? When you intentionally do good, by God’s standards, you’re fulfilling your purpose in life.

  • For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

Church, has God been good to you? Because God been good to you, do good!

III. Because God is good,

       don’t grow weary of doing good!

Read: Galatians 6:9

  • And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

We used to do a lot more community outreach here:

  • Free car washes, picked up newspapers and took them to recycling, baked cookies and took them to businesses and first responders for Thanksgiving.
  • Held outdoor movies, served at the Lion’s Fair and Summers End Festival, paid for one of the Welcome to Oceanport, signs,
  • Held community yard sales, offered our building to be used by the town during the Sandy cleanup. Even helped on of our own clean up after Sandy.
  • Regularly reached out to the Monmouth University students, collected housing items for Aslan, served at lunchbreak.
  • Made sandwiches and collected a lot of coats and gloves for the homeless at NY Penn Station.
  • Just to name a few.

But… as time went on and the outreach projects increased, our attendance decreased.

  • Perhaps we were doing too much or doing it too often.
  • Perhaps we allowed other things to distract us.
  • Perhaps the demands of our personal activities caught up with us.
  • Perhaps, we weren’t seeing the results we expected, and we grew weary.

I think the Galatian Christians were in a similar boat. Or why would Paul tell them not to grow weary of doing good?

Paul says look, doing good is a long term activity. There’ll be many distractions along the way and you may get tired or discouraged. But, don’t stop  doing good.

And when it gets tough, when there are different needs competing for your time, when you don’t see immediate results:

  • TRUST GOD! Remember, God is good! And you’ll see God work, and in due season, in God’s timing, you will reap a harvest.
  • God is good… so do not grow weary of doing good.

Church, has God been good to you? Because God has been good to you, do not grow weary of doing good!

Conclusion: So, what are you going to do?

ILL: Itinerant preacher and theologian, John Wesley said:

  • Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.

The Salvation Army has a similar motto: ‘Doing the Most Good.’ This is what’s on their web site about doing good:

I am doing the most good.

  • I am hope. I am compassion. I am strength.
    I am faith.

I am doing the most good.

  • I serve a community, a region, a nation, a world.
  • I serve heroes. I serve victims. I serve a sovereign God.

I am doing the most good.

  • I am an Army. Drafted by the Creator.
    Commissioned by a man who defied death.
  • My enemies are despair and destruction.
    My ammunition is grace and mercy.
    My allies are generosity and benevolence.

I am doing the most good.

  • I feed empty stomachs and hungry souls.
    I rebuild ruined homes and shattered lives.
  • I am a willing listener for a veteran with stories to tell. I am a bottle of water and an encouraging smile for a weary firefighter.
  • I am an answered prayer. A silver lining.
    A second chance.

I am doing the most good. (corps.salvationarmyindiana.org/)

Elders Wes, Joe and I, will make an every effort to find creative ways to do good in Oceanport and the surrounding communities, to extend it even to our Kingdom Builders scattered throughout the world.

So that the goodness of God will be revealed through you:

  • Not only to those of the household of faith.
  • But to all; to a lost, and hurting world.

New Years Day is a time to make resolutions, most of which we’ll never keep. But, with God’s help, with each other’s help, we can certainly keep the resolution… to do good!