Sermon:  Happy Old Year

Summary:  God does not want us to merely sit around and wait passively for the future 
fulfillment of his promises, nor does he want us to sit around a celebrate his victories of 
the past.  He wants both the past and future to shape our lives for faithfulness, service, 
and commitment to him and his mission in the present, today.

Know:  God has his purposes for us to fulfill in our lives daily.

Feel:  The desire to please God in all things daily

Do:  Survey your personal attitudes concerning God's redemptive acts of the past, and his 
promises for the future, and how they affect your life today.  Identify specific ways God's acts 
and promises are to affect your attitudes and how you are to conduct yourselves on a daily 

Text:  Eccl 7:8

Scripture Reading:  Eccl 7:8-10

1.  Coming to the end of yet another year
	a.  Newspapers and television do a "year in review"
	b.  Maybe a great year, great things happened
		- Graduate, new job, new relationship, new house, etc.
	c.  For some it was a rough year, maybe regrets
2.  Title of the sermon - From Eccl 7:8 - The end is better than the beginning
	a.  I know what you thinking - "Yes, end of a sermon better than 
		- Sometimes I agree - struggle and glad to get it over
		- I hope this will bless you and not be one of those kind of sermons
	b.  But haven't we all experienced the simply truth of this proverb?
		- Travel over holidays, nice, but always good to be back home
		- Start school/ college, great things happen, but good to graduate
		- Deployed, better to complete tour of duty and come back home
		- Going into surgery - better when it is done and you are healed
	c.  Yes, the end is better than the beginning
3.  Let's reflect on this little proverb and what this truth does for us
4.  This proverb helps you to…

I.  Leave the past
	A.  About 90 or so hours from now, this year will be history
		1.  What goes through your mind?
			a.  Maybe regret for passing up opportunities
			b.  Maybe for making mistakes
		2.  Tempted to think - "If I just had it to do over again…"
			a.  I would do it differently
			b.  I would fix what I messed up
	B.  (Eccl 7:10) - Do not say, why were the former days better than these?  
		1.  It is not wise to dwell on the past, for good or bad
		2.  Think about it:
			a.  Would you really want to repeat your Freshman year?
			b.  Do you want to go through deployment again?
			c.  Do you want to repeat a long trip for the holidays?
			d.  Go through surgery again?
		3.  Maybe it was an emotional or spiritual struggle
			a.  Maybe difficulty with family, friends, neighbors
			b.  Maybe it was a temptation of some sort
			c.  Do you really want to go through it again??
		4.  (Phil 3:8-14) - 
			a.  Paul forgets what lies behind, the past is the past
			b.  He has lost a lot, he counts it all loss
			c.  He speaks of suffering and death
			d.  But that is all in the past
	C.  ILL:  Chippie the parakeet - Owner decided to clean cage with vacuum 
		1.  Phone rang, turned to pick it up, and - sssp! In went chippie
			a.  Turned it off, open bag, alive, but stunned
			b.  Chippie was covered to soot and dirt
		2.  Tried to clean chippie up
			a.  Race to the bathroom, held Chippie under the faucet
			b.  Realize Chippie was wet & shivering, reach for blow-dryer 
			     and blasted Chippie with hot air
			c.  Chipper never knew what hit him
		3.  Later, reporter contacted Chippie's owner, see how bird doing
			a.  Chippie seems to be okay
			b.  But Chippie doesn't sing any more, just sits and stares
		4.  Maybe that how it is for you - Sucked up, washed up, blown over
			a.  Don’t' feel much like singing any more
			b.  Maybe stolen the song from your heart
	D.  Encouraging word from this little Proverb
		1.  ILL:  Elder from Mineral Wells at a dark time in my life
			a.  I felt sucked up, washed up, blown over
			b.  He reminded me - "This will pass"
		2.  Bible reminds us of this
			a.  Ps 30:5 - Weeping last for the night, joy in the morning
			b.  No matter how dark, morning will come - God is faithful
			c.  Ps 30:11 - You have turned my mourning into dancing
		3.  Our trials will pass, but God and his promises does not
			a.  Like Paul, forget what lies behind
			b.  **Press forward to what lies ahead…

II.  Press On towards Hope
	A.  If ending is better than the beginning, press on to the end
		1.  What this is talking about is a future orientation 
		2.  Another way to put it - Completion better than beginning
	B.  The whole Bible is forward looking, not backward
		1.  (Heb 11:8-16) - Abraham is an example of forward looking
			a.  Looking for city whose architect and builder is God
				- Everything else will eventually be in ruins
				- Only God can build a city with true foundations
			b.  Welcomed God's promises from a distance
				- Fulfillment would be after their lifetime
				- In a sense, may be true for us, when end comes
			c.  Strangers and exiles on the earth
				- This world is not our home
				- Everything you see is corrupted by sin - Rom 8:21f
				- But God will redeem creation, and will redeem us
			d.  Did not think about country from which they came
				- I have not put down roots here
				- I am looking forward to our true home
		2.  (2 Tim 4:6-8) - In have fought the good fight, kept faith, finished 
			a.  In future is laid up for me a crown of righteousness
			b.  Not only to me, but to all who loved his appearing
			c.  End if the fight/struggle better than beginning
		3.  Rev 21f - Final picture in Revelation
			a.  Paradise that was lost is regained
			b.  New heavens and new earth, new Jerusalem
				- That city whose architect and builder is God
				- Wipe tears, no death, no mourning, no pain
				- He who sits on throne says, I making all things new
			c.  (Rev 21:6-7) - He who overcomes will inherit these things
			d.  The end is better than the beginning
		4.  Scholars and theologians call it "eschatological perspective"
			a.  Eschatology - Study of last things, end times
			b.  Biblically - It is about God fulfilling his promises and plans
			c.  Whole Bible is forward looking
				- Old Testament looked forward to restoration, 
				   kingdom, new age, Messiah
				- Old Testament looks forward to Messiah, eternal 
				   Heavenly kingdom, new age
	C.  ILL:  In the meantime, we fight the good fight
		1.  Literally - Struggle the good struggle
			a.  Greek:  "agon" is struggle
			b.  Where we get our English word "agony"
			c.  It is a "good" struggle
		2.  Learn this lesson from God's creation:  How butterfly transforms
			a.  Man watched wiggling cocoon
			b.  After an our, a split on bottom of cocoon
				- Another hour, butterfly only free half of abdomen
				- Another hour, only half was free, looked stuck
				- Got cuticle scissors, and freed butterfly from torture!
			c.  Never took flight, died a few days later
			d.  Butterflies need the struggle to stimulate wings and make 
			     him strong - In order to fly away, need the struggle
		3.  Jas 1:2 - Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials
			a.  Testing of faith produces and endurace
			b.  Let endurance have its perfect result, so you may be 
			     complete, lacking in nothing
			c.  v.12 - Blessed is man who perseveres under trial, once 
			    he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, 
			     which the Lord has promised to those who love him
	D.  Forget what lies behind, press forward to what lies ahead
		1.  Don't dwell on the past whether it was good or bad
			a.  Don't say, why were former days better than these?
			b.  Don't dwell on the pain of the past
		2.  **If we move from the past, press toward the future, we can live 
III.  Live in the present
	A.  This proverb helps us to live in the present
		1.  It gives us the right perspective on life
		2.  We live in the between time
			a.  In the past are God's promises and lessons of the past
			b.  In the future are the final fulfillment of God's promises
			c.  In the present is life that God grants
	B.  2 Cor 4-5 - Paul's perspective on the past and future, and present
		1.  The past:  (4:8-10) - In spite of struggle, not destroyed.  Why?
			-  The Past: v.10 - Have life of Jesus through dying with him 
		2.  Present:  (4:16-18)
			a.  Outer man is decaying - Isn't that the truth?
				- Teeth start to fall out, hair gray, fall out
				- Certain things don't work as well as they used to
				- Some people despair because of this
				- But we see the unseen
			b.  Our Lord is renewing our inner man day by day
				- Inner man is getting stronger, not weaker
				- Inner man is what will go on past this life
		3.  Future:  (5:4) - Or mortality will be swallowed up by life
			a.  Our frailty, our weakness, our death
			b.  It will all be overtaken, swallowed up by life
			c.  4:14 - He who raised Jesus will also raise us
				- Both past and future
	C. This perspective determines how we are to live in the present
		1.  Life is not meant to be lived in the past
			a.  Yes the past shapes our lives
			b.  But that is not where we live our life
		2.  Life is not meant to be lived in the future
			a.  Yes the future shapes our lives
			b.  That this is not where we live our life
		3.  Life is meant to be lived in the present
	D.  NOW: (5:9-11) - 
		1.  Ambition TODAY is to be pleasing to him
			a.  We are to be holy in our minds and actions
			b.  We are to imitate Christ in all we do
		2.  We persuade men
			a.  Today, we persuade men of their sins, need for Christ
			b.  We do not keep to ourselves, but engage neighbors
		3.  After all is said and done, we are recompensed for our deeds
		4.  Truly, the end/completion is better than the beginning
			a.  In the end - will hear, "Well done good and faithful 
			     servant, enter into the joy of your master"
			b.  Isn't that what we all long to hear?

1.  One exception to this proverb - If you do not follow Christ
	a.  If you do not repent, change your life
	b.  If you are not baptized for the forgiveness of your sins
	c.  If you do not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and imitate him
	d.  The end will be worse, MUCH worse than the beginning (inv) 
2.  If you have done this, take encouragement from this proverb
	a.  End is better than the beginning
		- The beginning started with God's promises
		- The end is the ultimate fulfillment of our Faithful God's promises
	b.  We can live in the present, assured that God is faithful
3.  Both Christians, and non-Christians all have some guarantees
	a.  (Rev 21:8) - For cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, etc. - 2nd Death, 
	     lake of fire and brimstone
		- If you have not become a believer by obeying Gospel
		- If cowardly, afraid to stand up as a Christian
		- You do not want to suffer the second death
	b.  (Rev 2:10-11) - Be faithful in face of death
		- He who overcomes, not be hurt by second death
		- For the faithful overcomers, not have to worry about second death
		- Faithful are those who not only obey Gospel, but ambition is to 
		  please God, and persuade men
4.  What does God want us to be and do in the present?
	a.  Be pleasing to him today
	b.  Persuade men, today 

Small Group Notes:  Happy Old Year

Summary:  God does not want us to merely sit around and wait passively for the future fulfillment 
of his promises, nor does he want us to sit around a celebrate his victories of the past.  He wants 
both the past and future to shape our lives for faithfulness, service, and commitment to him and 
his mission in the present, today.

-  What was the best new year you have had?


1.  (Eccl 7:8-10)  What should be our attitude toward the past and the future?  Give some possible 
reasons why.

2.  (Heb 11:8-16) - What was Abraham's attitude toward the past and the future?  How did it affect his 

3.  Why is faith important?  What is faith and what does it look like?  How is faith rooted in both the 
past and the future?

4.  Identify some inadequate concepts of faith.  Which inadequate concepts are ONLY future oriented, 
or ONLY past oriented?


5.  How should faith look like in your daily life, especially in the mundane?  In what ways should it be 
rooted in BOTH the past and future?  

6.  Identify things that tend to take your conscious attention off of God's will for you in your daily routines 
of life.

7.  What are some very specific ways your faith can be strengthened for your daily life?

Prayer:  Pray using this scripture as a starting point - (2 Cor 5:9-11)