(Preached at West End Baptist Church; Sunday, January 1, 2012)
When one year ends and another begins, we are forced to think of yesterday, today, and tomorrow (all of the above, and not necessarily in that order). This can be good news, or it can be bad news!
Some people think only of the past and swim around in memories of yesterday. Others want to forget the past and ignore the present, and think only of tomorrow. These people are living in a world of fantasy.
For us to succeed tomorrow, we have to evaluate yesterday and inventory today. A proper evaluation of the past will enable us to join with the psalmist and praising God for His goodness to us:
“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalms 103:1-2)
The psalmist is actually speaking to himself (his soul) concerning The Lord’s Goodness yesterday; and this encourages him to live today and face tomorrow with courage and cheer.
We can rejoice in the immutable fact that the God of yesterday is also the God of tomorrow.
Our heavenly Father is never out of date, obsolete, or antique.
He does not change models every year. The God and Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is the unchanging One who is always more-than-adequate for the needs and the stresses of the circumstances in which we find ourselves in our ever-changing world.
I. JESUS FOR YESTERDAY.
God came to Isaac as the God of his father, Abraham:
“Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swore unto Abraham thy father; and I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 26:3-4).
As the Lord approached Isaac, He did so on the basis of His previously approaching Isaac's father; and He was encouraging Isaac to face the future with faith in the “God of Yesterday”.
God came to Jacob as the God of Abraham and Isaac.
“And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shall spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 28:13-14).
The eternal God was moving to carry out His Redemptive Purpose and Plan, and Jacob was to be a very important part of that Plan. God revealed Himself to young Jacob as the God upon whom his father and grandfather had depended.
God came to Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
“And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And He said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover He said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God” (Exodus 3:4-6).
When God approached Moses on the backside of the desert, he assured Moses that He was the same God who had accompanied Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all their pilgrimages.
God came to Joshua as the God of Moses.
“Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Joshua 1:2-5).
God divinely revealed to Joshua that he was not alone in the task that had fallen upon his shoulders because of the death of Moses. As Joshua faced the future, he was encouraged to put his faith in the God of yesterday.
II. JESUS FOR TODAY.
God is Personal.
He is more than the “Principle behind the universe”; and more than an “Irresistible Force” and an “Inexhaustible Power”. God is personal!
God is Gracious.
While His universe operated on the basis of natural law, He created that natural law. He is the giver of the moral law. Primarily, and fundamentally the creator, God is love and grace and mercy.
God is Dependable.
As we face the uncertainties of the future with all the changes that are bound to come, it is encouraging to know that our God is dependable.
We can depend on the RELIABLILITY of His PERSON.
We can depend upon the RESPONSIBILITY of His PROMISES.
We can depend upon the RESOURCES of His POWER.
III. JESUS FOR TOMORROW.
The God of tomorrow will continue to deserve our love:
“We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
The love of our Savior for us, as demonstrated in His purposes for us should motivate us to serve Him and others in love.
The God of tomorrow will continue to deserve our faithfulness.
God needs men and women on whom He can depend at all times and under all circumstances for the success of His Redemptive Purpose in today's world. There is no way by which we can receive His Commendation apart from our being faithful and trustworthy in the places where He positions us to work for His Redemptive Service.
We need not worry about whether or not the Lord will be with us from day to day, for he has given us a specific promise that he will be with us every day. This promise can help strengthen us when we are tempted to yield to do that which would reflect negatively upon The Good Name of our Wonderful Lord. Awareness of His presence can encourage us when we are weary and when we have inclinations toward despair.
His presence can sustain us in our most difficult times and can spur us to do our best at all times.
The God of yesterday is the same God today as He was yesterday; and as He is today, He will be tomorrow!
Let each of us face this New Year with faith in this wonderful Lord.