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Series Theme:  "Faith Sermons"




















































Title:   7. Rising to the New Year





Reading : Eph 4:1-7




  •  It is almost unnatural to try to ignore the New Year
  •  Every year more and more is made of it – more fireworks etc.
  •  Many of us may ignore it but it is happening
  •  Rather than set specific targets (new year resolutions!), it's better that we simply remind ourselves of who we are with God.


1. In the Place of God's Choosing


  •  Paul's starting point was that he was a prisoner
  •  3:1 – a prisoner of the Lord = he sees himself having been made captive to God's purposes
  •  4.1 – a prisoner for the Lord = maybe literal (see 6:20 ) but more likely one taken captive to do Jesus' bidding.
  •  Whichever it is, Paul sees he is where he is by Jesus' bidding!
  •  Can't overstate the importance of this – knowing you are where you are at because God has brought you here – for a purpose.
  •  For Paul it may have been literal prison
  •  For us what is the ‘prison' we're in – a place where we don't seem to be able to escape from?
  •  A prison of ill health, age, singleness, poverty
  •  But Paul saw himself a prisoner to God's purposes
  •  His best writings seem to have come from prison
  •  We sometimes work best ‘in prison' but given over to God
  •  He didn't stay there – and neither will we.


2. Frail but Children of God


  •  A real starting place is to acknowledge our frailty
  •  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Eph 4:2,3)
  •  Humility is about knowing who we are, really who we are – those who are sinners prone to getting it wrong and needing Christ's salvation to change us.
  •  When we truly realise that that is who we are, then we will be humble, rightly esteeming ourselves, and because we do that we will be gentle with others because we know that we are frail, inadequate and prone to making mistakes, just like they do.
  •  Yet there is a greatness about us – we are God's children
  •  “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Cor 9:8).
  •  Because we are united with Christ, as God's children, we have the resource of his Holy Spirit
  •  Thus we go into the new year with a reminder of our weakness and need of one another and we don't put ourselves on pedestals and look down on others.
  •  We need other Christians to:
    • encourage us,
    • hold us accountable and correct us in love
  •  We are to be with other Christians to
    • encourage them,
    • bless them
    • hold them accountable and correct them in love


3. Purposeful Children of God


  •   he will make time & energy to achieve those
  •  We just saw a reference to abounding in every good work
  •  Eph 2:10 “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do .”
  •  God HAS got a plan for us. Our part in it is to be sensitive to Him, listening to Him and then just going with what He puts before us.
  •  I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back. (Phil 3:12-14 Message Version)
  •  Paul's attitude was, I've got somewhere to go and I'm going there with God.
  •  Jonathan Edwards: Resolution One: I will live for God. 
  •  Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.
  •  A life without purpose is aimless wandering
  •  Because “the heart is deceitful above all things” the difficulty is being able to rightly assess priorities
  •  Mostly we simply have to trust that if we are putting God first in our attitudes, then He will lead us.
  • Then He will make time & energy to achieve those things He gives us to do.




  •  resting in Him, with good heart even ‘in prison'
  •  realising our own frailty and need of others
  •  recognising we are also sources of supply for them
  •  running with a purpose – God's purpose for me.