Horizons, Jan. 2, 2011
New Year 2011
Horizons January 2, 2011 Ephesians 1: 3-14
Dr. John Maxwell tells the story of being in a small plane with a pilot friend and noticing the attitude indicator. Not understanding how an aircraft could have an attitude, he questioned the pilot and got an education in life.
Yes, a plane does have an attitude; it is the aircraft's position in relation to the horizon. When the nose is pointed up, it is called a nose-up attitude, and when the nose is pointed down, it is called a nose- down attitude. The attitude of the plane directly affects the performance of the plane.
So it is in life. Nose down - negative, critical, pessimistic, or nose up - positive, encouraging, enthusiastic. Do what you do with the nose-up, enthusiastic attitude, and the performance of whatever you do will be dramatically affected for the better.
Those who do their best and accomplish the most in life invariably possess this contagious characteristic of enthusiasm. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord, and not for men (Colossians 3:23TEV).--Landrum P. Leavell III, The Profile 16 (15 March 1995), 3.
One time Robert Lewis Stevenson was asked how in the world he could have such an amazing attitude, when he had so many physical pains. He said, “I refuse to let that long row of medicine bottles be the limit to my horizon.” Do not let the cumbersome, difficult things of your life — constrictive though they may be — limit who you are.
The month of January takes its name from the Roman god Janus -- a two-faced being, each facing the opposite direction. Janus/January is a pivotal time -- a vantage point from which we can clearly see backward and forward. The New Year is a helpful dividing line, enabling us to still see back into the past year and yet we also face forward and look expectantly at the year that lies ahead.
Part of the melancholy of facing a new year is that we may not have met last year’s New Year resolutions. We may not have accomplished certain goals, or life circumstances have recently altered our way of living.
The writer of Ephesians takes a hopeful, January 2 forward-look at God's intentions for humanity and finds a remarkable vision, one which can usher us into this New Year. We may be assured that God has "a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth" (Ephesians 1:10).
Let’s use this January 2 to begin creating a future built on hope. It is the first day of living a faith that looks backward to the evidences of God's great gift to us in Jesus Christ and forward to the day when God's plan "to gather up all things in him" will become a reality.
Today, we will listen to part of a recorded message that inspired today’s sermon. I had thought of playing the entire sermon, but it’s 40 minutes long! (You can thank me later.) (The 3 points of the outline are based on Dr. Boyd’s sermon.)
(1) Horizons—behind and before**
“Kindness will meet me at every corner” Psalm
Bless the Past
Live forward, understand backward
Growth is personal responsibility
“My mother made me go”
God’s future is where we move
Move from grace into grace
Behind/before: God enfolds us (J.Norwich)
(2) Horizons--Limiting and defining
By defining limits we limit on other options
(Career selection, marriage, physical location, personal goals)
Close off certain avenues—can’t do ALL, but short-term goals will lead to long-term results, which fulfill long-term goals
A French proverb says, "You not only have to want what you want, but you have to want what your want leads to." This is a thought-provoking idea. It says that to really get the most out of life, we need to take a long-term perspective.--- (As I struggle with chronic overweight, this proverb haunts me at every food table in a social gathering.) … I want the hors d'oeuvres; they taste great - but do I want what my want leads to?
Perhaps you have struggled with a chronic disease. (I was recently diagnosed diabetic.) I have become acutely aware of the fact that satisfying my immediate wants could bring an early and miserable end to my life here on earth. Most of our self-destructive and ungodly behavior is a result of myopia - the inability to see beyond what is right in front of us." (--Randy Rowland, Get a Life! ... And a Faith That Works (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992), 89.
(3) Horizons--Near and far –inches and infinity
Set near and far goals, both are needed
“As thy days, so shall thy strength be” -- Just take the step
Step out in faith -- The rest will come
Task to task -- Do what is in front of you
Norman Neaves of Oklahoma City told his church this story recently. A young father and his daughter were on a cruise, a get-away cruise because his wife/her mother had just died. Turning to one another to help relieve the pain, they huddled together on board ship. And on the deck of that ship, the little girl asked her father: Daddy, does God love us as much as Mommy did?
At first, the father didn't know what to say. However, he knew he could not side step the question. Pointing out across the water to the most distant horizon, he said, Honey, God's love reaches farther than you can see in that direction.
Turning around he said, And God's love reaches farther than you can see in that direction, too. Then the father looked up at the sky and said, And God's love is higher than the sky, too. Finally, he pointed down at the ocean and said, and it is deeper than the ocean as well.
It was then that the little girl said the darn'dest thing. Oh, just think, Daddy. We're right here in the middle of it all!
Yes, we are in the middle of God’s grace, surrounded by his love and his presence. Let’s bask in God’s goodness as we embark on another New Year.
**The three-point outline is based on Dr. R. Maurice Boyd’s sermon 12/31/00 at The City Church, New York, 20 East 49th Street.
Rev. Rosemary Stelz