The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 27:1-10 Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth. Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips. A stone is heavy and the sand weighty, But the provocation of a fool is heavier than both of them. Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, But who can stand before jealousy? Better is open rebuke Than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. A sated man loathes honey, But to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet. Like a bird that wanders from her nest, So is a man who wanders from his home. Oil and perfume make the heart glad, So a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend. Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend, And do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity; Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother far away.
My friends, your days are numbered. As some evangelists like to frequently point out, every single day, on average, one hundred and fifty thousand people go down to their graves and find themselves standing before the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Perhaps some among the multitudes which die daily recognize that death is knocking at the door, that it may fall upon them at any moment. But just as sure, many of those who die today are likely to have never seen it coming.
Surely there are many, many people who woke up this morning with grand plans about tomorrow, next week, and the new year, who will lay their heads down tonight, only to find themselves standing before their Maker, having never given thought to the scripture: It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgement (Heb 9:27).
The Proverb tells us:
Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.
I am reminded of a godly man I knew briefly years ago who went fishing in a boat on a small pond with his brother in law. Neither made it home that day. A foreman I once had on a construction job nearly a decade ago dropped dead in his shower without warning. My wife had a friend who broke her ankle, and died shortly thereafter from a blood clot. Conversely, there are many people that go fishing, take showers, and break their ankles, for whom life just goes on, as it always has. This is the danger. We are lulled into a false sense of security as life moves comfortably forward into the future and all our plans seem to be unhindered. As we boast of tomorrow, and all our plans fall into place, we pridefully believe that our work, our planning, our resources and ingenuity made it all possible.
The reality is, we don't know what a day may bring forth. But in our pride and self assurance, we boast, forgetting that it is He Who changes the times and the seasons (Dan 2:21).
In our confidence that tomorrow will be like today, we carelessly forget that it is His will be done, not ours. We pridefully believe our tomorrows are secure because today we are healthy, today we have security, today we have wealth, and we forget that man does not know his time: like fish caught in a treacherous net and birds trapped in a snare, so the sons of men are ensnared at an evil time when it suddenly falls on them (Ecc 9:12).
Now, this is not an indictment of planning for the future. This is not a rebuke to those who would wisely make allowances for business and activities tomorrow. Rather, it is a warning for those of us who stumble blindly along into the future trusting in our weak arms of flesh, our sin corrupted wisdom, our wealth, and past performances.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. James 4: 13-16
Brothers and sisters, we are vapors. Children, go out into the cold today and watch the breath come out of your mouth, float up for a second or two, and disappear. In contrast to eternity, that is your life. Brief. Fleeting. Like a mist which vanishes in a moment. Whether you are eight years old, or fifty-eight, time is short for you. Why waste it being anxious for tomorrow? Jesus tells us do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matt 6:34).
As is common, many people will make plans and resolutions as we head into 2021. Planning for this new year, whether it relates to personal goals, your job, your household, or this Church, is wise. It helps us stay focused. It aids us in being good stewards of God's blessings. But as we plan, let us do so with the understanding that God has determined the span of our lives, that His Kingdom is being established, not yours. Commit your works to the Lord And your plans will be established (Proverbs 16:3).
At this time, if you are able, please join me in kneeling as we confess our sins to the Holy Holy Holy Triune God.
A PRAYER FOR THE NEW YEAR
Length of days does not profit us
Except the days are passed in Thy presence, in Thy service to Thy glory.
Give us a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains
Sanctifies, aids every hour,
That we might not be one moment apart from Thee,
But may rely on thy Spirit
To supply every thought,
Speak every word,
Direct every step,
Prosper every work,
Build up every mote of faith,
And give us a desire
To show forth Thy praise,
Testify Thy love,
Advance Thy kingdom.
As we launch our bark on the unknown waters of this year,
With Thee, O Father, as our harbour,
Thee O Son, at our helm,
Thee O Holy Spirit, filling our sails.
Guide us to heaven with our loins girt,
Our lamps burning,
Our ears open to thy calls,
Our hearts full of love, our souls free.
Give us Thy sanctifying grace,
Thy comforts to cheer,
Thy wisdom to teach,
Thy right hand to guide,
Thy counsel to instruct,
Thy law to judge,
Thy presence to stabilize.
May Thy fear be our awe,
Thy triumphs our joy.
In Jesus's Name we pray, amen.
(Prayer adapted from the Valley of Vision prayer titled "A Prayer for the new year")
Please stand and listen to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to his church:
John 8:12 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 01-03-2021 Liturgy of Sovereign King Church written by Aaron Sabie.)