On February 24, 1584, Pope Gregory VIII (1105-1187) signed a papal decree that the Christian world would accept the new Gregorian calendar. The motivation behind the Gregorian calendar was the Julian calendar, which assumes that the earth takes 365.25 days for the earth to circle around the sun. The days are divided into twelve months and an extra day is added every four years. According to the Gregorian calendar the new year begins on the first day of January.
Today, the new year is celebrated around the world. Can you name any other holiday that the world, in its entirety, is embraced more than New Years? Did you know Sydney, Australia celebrates the New Year by exploding 80,000 fireworks for an estimated crowd of 1.5 million at the stroke of midnight? In Valparaiso, Chile two million come to see fireworks explode. In England, everyone gathers at the London Eye to watch fireworks as Big Ben strikes midnight. In New York City, a crystal ball is dropped in a one-minute countdown in Times Square. Edinburgh, Scotland hosts the world’s largest Hogmanay events to celebrate the New Year. The event lasts four days. In Rio de Janeiro two million people gather on the famous Copacabana Beach to watch a fifteen-minute fireworks display. Finally, in Central America New Year’s events are scheduled throughout the entire month of January.
Can I ask you a simple question? Why do so many people get excited about New Years? The world does not celebrate any other day on the calendar like New Year’s Day. Why January 1? Just think about it. There is nothing special about March 1. We barely notice it. No one cares about August 1. The world does not notice the coming of November 1. December 1 is lost in the Christmas season. What is that makes January 1 so special? Why do so many people get excited about a New Year? If you surveyed the worldwide crowds then you would discover there are several reasons why people celebrate the New Year.
Some celebrate the New Year because they will celebrate anything. This group is always ready to party. Are you in this group? They are the same people who pretend to be Irish and celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. They are the same people who pretend to have Mexican roots and celebrate Cinco De Mayo. For this group any reason is a good reason to party, so why not celebrate New Year’s Day?
Some celebrate the New Year because they are glad to see the old year pass. Can anyone here tell me that you are sad to see 2021 go? For many, it was a difficult year. I am in that group. You will always remember 2021 as the year you did not have a job. You will remember 2021 as the year you lost a loved one. Or maybe it will be the year that you discovered that you had cancer or some other health issue. Every year is not a happy year. 2021 was the year the pandemic continued and frustrated our good lives. Some years are a mix of the very best and the very worst. 2021 was the year my daughter got married and the year I had major surgery. How will you remember 2021?
Some celebrate the New Year because it symbolizes a brand-new start. Does anyone here feel like you need a brand-new start? I used to have a paper calendar. It was exciting. There is just something about a brand-new calendar. Your old calendar is faded and warn but your new calendar is clear and crisp. Each day is empty and filled with possibilities. What do you want to do better in 2022? What area of your life do you want to improve? That is why people make New Year’s resolutions. Has anyone made a resolution to mend a broken relationship? Has anyone here made a resolution to watch less television and read more? Has anyone here made a resolution to eat less or exercise more? Now is the time to improve yourself! There is no better time to improve yourself then right now.Let us look at this morning’s scripture lesson.
We are instructed today from the first nine verses from third chapter of Ecclesiastes, the first nine verses. It written by King Solomon. He was always be remembered as a man of wisdom. Some have questioned that because he had 700 wives. (One is enough for me!) The reading for today reminds us that life should be lived in balance. There is no way you could miss the pattern of these verses. There is a time for this and a time for that. If you look at the text you discover that the this’s and the that’s are linked. Nothing should be done all the time. Nothing should be eliminated all the time. Life is meant to be lived in a certain balance. For example, no one should work 24/7. On the other hand, no one should vacation 24/7. The wise one, Solomon tells us life must be lived in balance. Are you living your life in balance?
Is your spiritual life in balance? In Matthew 4:4, Jesus quotes, Deuteronomy 8:3. It says, “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Our world has a surplus of people who are living spiritually out of balance. There is a time to do the things of this world and a time to do the things of God. How much time to you spend doing secular things? (Working, paying bills, cleaning the house) How much time do you spend with God? (Worship, devotion, prayer) Remember what I said in the opening words. King Solomon believed mankind is basically blind to God’s meaning for man’s existence. We spend our days chasing after things that really don’t matter. How many meaningless things are going to fill your calendar in 2022? How much time are you going to give God this year?
This is the good news for today. Now is the time. There is no better time to improve yourself then right now. Now is the time to break your old secular patterns and draw near to God. Today, my goal is to help you live more balanced lives, spiritually. I am going to do that by reminding you of one thing and challenge you to do something else. There is a time for the things of this world and there is a time for God.
First, if you want to live a balanced spiritual life then I want to remind you that you are a child of God. That is easy to forget in our world. We are so busy running around; we are so busy dealing with life’s problems and challenges. Never forget, you belong to God. The Westminster Confession of Faith says, “The purpose of life is to glorify God.” In Romans 14:8 Paul says, “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Never forget that you are a child of God. Is the way that you live bringing glory to God?
On September 3, 1967, the old television game show What’s My Line? went off the air. It had been a staple on CBS for seventeen years, airing 867 episodes. Do you remember What’ s My Line? If you do then you have been watching television for fifty-five years! Do you remember how the game was played? What’s My Line was a guessing game. The panel would ask the guest ten yes and no questions. They were trying to discover their vocation. At the end of the questions the panelists would guess what the guest did for a living. In seventeen years, the country discovered there were many odd vocations and many people who did not stereotypically look like their vocation. So let me ask you the question.
So, what is your line? You can earn money in many ways. You may be a teacher, preacher, librarian, engineer, secretary, or a person of business. Those are ways to earn money, but they are not your primary purpose in life. Your job is just a part that you play in this world. It is how you pay the bills. However, what you really are is a child of God. If you are going to live a balanced life, both secularly and spiritually, then never forget your true purpose, to glorify God. Does your life bring glory to God? Or do you have some work to do?
Second, if you want to live a balanced spiritual life then I challenge you to develop a plan to help you grow spiritually. In other words, I want you to schedule God into your life. I hope you make God a real priority in your life. There should be a time for service and a time and a time for the spiritual disciplines. Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) once said, “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan?” Now is the time. What is your plan to grow spiritually in 2022?
Years ago, we looked at the Old Testament book of Nehemiah. Do you remember his story? He went back to the city of Jerusalem. The city at that point in history laid in ruins. Nehemiah dreamed of building a wall around the city so he could rebuild it. Along the way we learned that he was both a visionary and a leader. We learned he was detail oriented. Do you remember? He had a plan. He knew the length of the completed wall. He knew the height of the completed wall. He knew the thickness of the completed wall. Based on those facts he knew what he needed to complete the wall. Having a plan does mean you don’t trust God. Having a plan simply means you going to do your best for God.
What is your plan to grow spiritually in 2022? Maybe one of the reasons you aren’t growing in the faith is that you don’t have a plan? Now is the time to plan. How much time are you planning on giving God this year? Are you going to read the Bible more? Are you going to pray more this year? Are you going to mediate more this year? Have you scheduled God into your life, or doesn’t God fit into your plans for this year? What is your plan to grow spiritually in 2022? Let me end with the random facts.
Did you know the first electric light was so dim that a candle was needed to see its socket? Did you know the first steamboat took 32 hours to chug its way from New York to Albany, a distance of 150 miles? Did you know Wilbur and Orville Wright’s first airplane flight lasted only 12 seconds? Did you know the first automobiles traveled 2 to 4 miles per hour and broke down often? Carriages would pass them with their passengers shouting, “Get a horse!” What do those stories teach us? How you begin really doesn’t matter. What matters more is how you end.
How are going to end 2022? Are you going to be closer to God then you are at this moment? The great wise one, Solomon, said mankind is basically blind to God’s meaning for man’s existence. We spend our days chasing after things that really don’t matter. Life is meant to be lived in perfect balance! Is your life in perfect balance between the secular and the spiritual? Or do you have some work to do. Now is the time to begin.