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New Year’s Eve

Psalm 61:1-4, Psalm 27:4-5 – God is our rock of refuge!

We all enjoy security.  We enjoy being secure and feeling secure.  On our way back from Wisconsin yesterday I noticed how nice it is to arrive home.  After traveling a long way there’s a sort of relief when you return home.  You drive in the garage and park the car and there’s a feeling of security.  No more danger on the road from dangerous weather condition, no more possibility of getting in a car accident or breaking down or getting a flat tire.  No matter how many precautions may have been made there’s always a possibility of something going wrong.  This uncertainty adds fear into our lives.

But wouldn’t it be nice to never be afraid?  Never feel fear?  Never be scared?  But there are so many things in our lives that cause us to be afraid.  Think about the past year.  Were there things that caused you fear?  The instability of the economy?  The uncertainty of wars in the middle east?  The riots and marches and uprising in Europe?  The protests in America?  Hurricane Irene?  Scandals?  Government?  Or maybe simply things that happened in your life?  A death in the family?  A sickness?  A loss of job?  All kinds of things in our tumultuous life cause us to be afraid or to feel fear.  We fear the unknown.  We stand at the brink of a new year tonight.  What’s the New Year going to bring?  What tragedies or disasters or turmoil or pain or loss are we going to experience this next year?

We’re not sure but it’s possible that David wrote Psalm 61 when he was running for his life from Absalom or when he was off in battle against an enemy, perhaps full of questions and uncertainty. (Read text).  Here David confesses his confidence that just as God has been His refuge in the past so will He be in the future as well.  Notice that David doesn’t place His trust in Himself but rather in God, the rock that is higher than Him.  God will raise him to a place of shelter that he could not reach on his own.

Rocks are considered some of the most immovable structures in our world.  If you’ve ever seen the Rocky Mountain chain, nobody is ever going to be able to say, “I think that would look better through Minnesota and Iowa, I think I’m going to move it.”  You can imagine before the days of dynamite and explosives how secure rocks must have been considered.  Imagine a castle built up on a high mountain, it would be very difficult for the enemy to attack and try to take it over.  God is our secure rock.

So as we think about this past year and we think about the coming year and all of its uncertainty we may be tempted to feel a bit of fear.  What’s the answer?  The answer is a prayer like David’s in Psalm 27 (read text).  Since God is our refuge not only in times of trouble but in times of joy and gladness, let us this new year keep first priorities first.  Let us “gaze upon the beauty of the Lord” by regularly attending the Lord’s Supper.  Let us “dwell in the house of the Lord” by gathering with other believers and hearing and studying His Word.  And this is what we want to do because it is here where God strengthens us, assures us, comforts us, causes us to trust in Him more as our rock of refuge in anything.

Psalm 62:1-2, Job 19:23-27 – God is our rock of salvation!

Many people like to make new year’s resolutions.  The new year is like a new or second chance to change something in someone’s life.  Perhaps some people make a new year’s resolution to lose X many pounds, or to work out X amount of times a week, or to spend more time with family or friends, or to quit a bad habit, or to get out of debt, etc.  All of these things involve you doing something to try to correct some bad behavior or correct a problem in your life.  Well, each one of us has many bad things in our lives from 2011 that we are glad to put behind us.  There are many things we did in 2011 that we know we should not have done or said or thought.  Perhaps there are many sinful things that we don’t even remember that we did.  But unlike a new year’s resolution, which sometimes works but many times does not, there is nothing that WE could do to change the situation that our soul is in.

Each one of us knows who we are.  We have the memory of past sins and past wrongs, we have the guilt of those wrongs that weigh us down, and we have Satan who never stops accusing us of the bad things we’ve done and how we don’t deserve anything from God.  This whole ordeal can be quite tiresome!  The answer to all of this is acknowledging and admitting who we are- yes, we are helpless to save ourselves- but we have someone else, a rock of our salvation.  (read text)

Imagine a great big battlefield with a host of enemy armies with weapons in hand and are sent out in order to capture you.  On your own you’d have no hope of survival.  But you’re not alone.  You sit comfortably high up in a fortress, a castle built high up on a massive mountain that is completely un-climbable.  No enemy can reach you or take you.  You may be able to hear their battle cries but all they are is wasted air because you are safe upon a rock.  That’s a picture of how we stand in this life.  We stand firm not because of who we are or what we have done, but because of who our God is.  He is the rock of our salvation.  He has given our souls rest- even now!  We know that heaven is ours and nothing can rip us from our Savior’s hands.  The devil may try to accuse, our guilt might condemn us, but the fact remains: God is the rock of salvation on which we stand!

Who knows what challenges 2012 will bring into our lives.  We face all kinds of enemies in our lives and perhaps the one that most people fear the most is the final one: death.  Can this enemy climb the Rock on which we stand?  Can this enemy break into the fortress where we rest?  Our answer is as sure and certain as if it were inscribed in rock, just like Job’s (read text).

Now you remember Job, right?  He was a righteous believer in God and was very blessed.  The devil thought Job only believed in God because of all of the nice things Job had so the devil took all of those things away in order to get him to deny God, but God used it all to test and strengthen Job’s faith.  In the midst of all of his sufferings and in the midst of all the empty consolations Job gives his reason for confidence in God.  So certain and trustworthy are his words that he wishes them to be inscribed in a rock- so they will never disappear.  He knows that His Redeemer lives and that in the end He will rise from the dead to be with the Lord forever.

That confidence is the same confidence we have in God our Rock of Salvation.  Who knows what 2012 will bring, perhaps we’ll even face death in 2012, but even there we have confidence in God our Rock of salvation who has defeated even that enemy for us.  We go into the New Year with confidence knowing that because our Redeemer lives, so will we, we go with confidence resting on the solid Rock of our salvation, Our Savior God!

Matthew 7:24-25, Matthew 16:16-18, 1 Peter 2:6-9 – Christ is our rock!

We tend to remember big events in our lives by what year they occurred.  For example, we remember the years when our church building was either built or added on to.  In front when you first walked in perhaps you’ve seen the stone with the years 1979, 1984, and 2006 engraved on it.  Those were the years when a major building project was undertaken on our church building.  Well this year there will probably be many new buildings built in our world.  But the buildings that will last are the ones built on a solid foundation.  Jesus used this same picture when he spoke these words (read text).

Finally the foundation for every Christian’s life is hearing and putting into practice Jesus’ words.  The person who builds his/her life on Christ the solid rock will be able to withstand all of the “floods” of life.  If you had to be standing in a river at flood stage you’d much rather be standing on a massive, solid rock than on a crumbling log or on shifting sands.  What “floods” will we experience in 2012?  Stand firm on Christ’s words.

Perhaps in the New Year there will be things that will disappear.  Businesses that go bankrupt, buildings toppled from some natural disaster, buildings demolished because of deterioration, etc.  Well we can be sure that one “building” will last.  That’s Christ’s Church.  Why?  Because it is not built on shifting sands of human reason or science or philosophy, but on Christ.  (Read text).  Perhaps this church building will be around for many years, perhaps not, regardless, Christ’s Church will always exist because it is built on the best foundation: Christ.

God calls Christ the cornerstone of the Church (read text).  Back in olden days when you’d build a building you would pick out the best shaped stone and use it as the cornerstone.  This stone had to be in the exact right position because it was placed in the corner and off of this stone the entire rest of the building was based.  If the cornerstone was off just a bit, then the whole building would be off.  God is saying that Christ is that cornerstone.  He is the perfect cornerstone for God’s church.  But that isn’t it.  God also says that each one of us are stones that are built upon Christ.  What a beautiful description of the Church!  What good are stones without a cornerstone?  Or what good is a cornerstone without other stones?  Christ is so intimately connected to His people that we need Him and He “needs” us.  And each one of us are one of those stones built into the building of the Church.  Imagine a brick walled building.  Which brick would you like to take out?  None, right?  Each brick has a place and has a part in the building.  So it is with God’s church.

You are part of God’s Church.  Who knows what will come and go in 2012.  One thing is true: you are part of God’s church which will always last, thanks to its immovable, stable, sure, certain cornerstone: the first and the last, He who was dead and is alive again, our Savior, Jesus Christ.