Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Beginnings

-30 on our thermometers today, not this.
"I’m grateful you’re here," Pastor said as he welcomed us this frigid Sunday morning. "Something I always liked when I was growing up was the beginning of the new school year because it was a fresh start. This, being a new year, is a good time to think about our own New Beginnings."

Announcements included the following.
Today is last day to sign up for our Friendship dinners. Lists are being assembled now.
Jan 18 there will be an inter-church Men's gathering at Clyde Iron, Iron Sharpening Iron
Building Committee will meet 6:30 this Thursday here at the church.

Drake led in worship this morning, also singing a special song during the offering.

New Beginnings 

All of us need the opportunity for a fresh start. From a very early age the most commonly expressed emotion is love. But there's another emotion that is fairly widespread and a closed second. That is regret.

Regret is the husband and wife heading for divorce court…
A man dying of emphysema regretting his first cigarette...
A man who has lost his wife and kids regretting his first drink...

One place to get a real fresh start is at the cross.

Regret is nothing new and the Bible has many stories on this theme. Peter's regret after boasting he would never deny Jesus. Esau's regret at having traded his birthright for a bowl of porridge. And David's regrets later in life after the assorted choices he made that included murder, hatred, adultery, and family estrangement.

This morning's sermon focused on family of David later in life when he was king and his children were grown.
Brad started at II Samuel 13, the story of Amnon and Tamar. Amnon, son of David, had become ill with lust for his half-sister Tamar.

Brad pointed out how David was clueless about things that were going on in his own family. His inattentiveness and inaction helped contribute to what happened next. A scheme was conceived and Amnon raped Tamar.

As happens in such situations, Amnon's twisted desires turned to intense hatred of the girl. Tamar tells her father David about the incident and moves away to live with her brother Absalom, waiting for her father to take action and address the wrong. Sadly, David does nothing.

When sin isn't dealt with it always leads to more damage.

Amnon was David's firstborn son and heir to the throne. He must have gotten the impression that he could do whatever he wanted. Absalom would have nothing of it and decides, “If my father is too gutless to address this thing, I will take matters into my own hands.” Absalom gets Amnon drunk and kills him. Absalom must flee and go into exile.

Eventually Absalom returned. David said he could go home, “But he cannot see my face.” 

Brad pointed out the contrast between David's cold-heartedness and the father in Jesus' story of the Prodigal Son, in which the father watched daily waiting with open arms for his son's return.

What a mess.

Over a period of time Absalom wins the hearts of the people by smooth talk, generosity and good deals. He then leads a revolt and David has to go into exile. Those loyal to the king find him and David's loyalists go back to do battle. The king himself is too old to fight, but he asks that Absalom be spared. It doesn't turn out that way, though.

When news comes that “the rebel is dead” David is bitterly pained. And he realizes all the ways he failed his child, all the words he never said, all the things he never said. “Oh Absalom… my son, my son… if only I had died instead of you."

Here's the point Brad is making here. If you don’t change the road you’re on it will lead to devastation. It's time for a new beginning. Maybe your new beginning is how you relate to your family. Maybe your new beginning has to do with how you handle money.

A new beginning is more than a new year resolution. It begins with repentance and renewal at the cross.

After the sermon we shared Communion.

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