As I prepare to teach this Friday night at our youth group’s first meeting of the New Year, 2013, I want to encourage the youth to prepare themselves to have a winning year. What I mean by winning year is, when you look back over 2013, you can say that you accomplished many things for the Lord by serving the people around you. Many people just live their lives day by day with an attitude of mediocrity. They are satisfied with the “status quo”. As believers, God has created us for greatness. He wants us to do great things for Him by simply serving the people around us with the Gospel. Unfortunately, when you live for yourself, you are not able to serve the people around you and do great things for God. I would like to take a look at three people in the Bible who were not satisfied with the status quo, decided to serve the Lord by serving the people around them, and ended up changing the world. They had a winning year, year after year. We need to examine their lives and learn the secret of their success so that we can have a winning 2013.
I. Think like Abraham
Abraham was a man who grew up to be like everyone else. He followed the status quo just like those around him. One day, something happened that changed him forever. He encountered the God of the universe. He was given God’s grand plan for the world and he chose to believe it and live by it. Abraham began the process of following God, one step at a time. Those small steps of obedience led to larger steps. As he grew in his relationship with God he grew to love and serve the people around him. If you want to be successful in 2013 then you need to meet with the God of the universe, daily, through Bible study and prayer. Abraham was busy like we all are. He had to administrate the wealth that God had given to him yet that did not stop him from spending time with God on a daily basis. Do you spend time studying the Word of God systematically? Do you spend time talking with God through prayer? These are the first two steps that you need to discipline yourself in so that you can encounter God, which will lead you to a successful 2013. As you take baby steps in faith God will lead you to larger steps. As you grow, your desire to serve God by serving the people around you will grow. Abraham knew God’s plan. He knew that God was going to use him to bless the world by bringing forth the Messiah, Jesus Christ through his people. When he heard that God wanted to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah along with the other 5 surrounding cities he could have said, “great, that is what they deserve. I am not worried because I know where I stand with God and that is all that matters.” Abraham did not think that way. He loved people and wanted to do what he could to help. He fought hard to try and save the people even though it was a hopeless case. You are surrounded by people who do not know God and live very similar lifestyles to those of Sodom and Gomorrah and my question to you is, “what are you doing to help them, to serve them, to fight for their eternal lives?”. It has been said that the only thing that you can take to heaven with you when you die is the number of people who heard the Gospel and were saved through your efforts.
II. Serve like Moses
Moses was a winner because of his attitude. He was meek. Meekness is not a weakness. Meekness is a great character trait. In fact, meekness is part of the character that opens the door to heaven, or so said Jesus Christ in His famous “Sermon on the Mount”. Meekness means power under control. Meekness means receiving everything as coming from the hand of God, both the good and the bad. When you have this attitude then you are ready to invest in and serve the people around you the way that Jesus Christ teaches His followers. This is the process of making disciples. As you do this, there will be difficult times because people are difficult. How will you respond at that time? How did Moses respond? The people who were following Moses had tried to kill him several times. He endured their threats and did not hold it against them. God came to test Moses. He told Moses, “I will destroy this group of people and start over with you.” That was a great temptation for Moses because Moses came from Abraham so if God were to start over with Moses, He still would have kept His promises to Abraham. Moses could have said yes and raised up new followers who were ready to follow him instead of put him to death. Moses chose to fight for the people instead. He loved them and served them with all that he had and when times got tough, he stood with them and did all that he could to help them. Are you ready to be a servant-leader like Moses? Are you ready to sacrifice for the good of others?
III. Sacrifice like Nehemiah
Nehemiah had never seen Israel. He grew up in captivity yet his mind was on his nation and his people. He had a high position and could have enjoyed his life in captivity while his people and nation suffered. He could have accepted the status quo but he did not. He gave up his position to go back to a nation he had never seen to build it up so that his people could live in their “promised land”. It was a hard journey and even harder to rebuild the nation yet Nehemiah was ready to sacrifice all. He did not give up. He was able to lead the people back home and motivate them to rebuild the nation. One of the greatest problems that Moldova faces these days is the fact that few people are investing in the educating the next generation. We all know the phrase “home training” and can easily spot a person who does not have it. One of the ways that we serve this nation is by investing in the next generation. All throughout the year we organize day camps for children where they come and spend 5 days with us studying the Bible, learning how to have common sense even if they have not received good “home training”. Most of the children at these camps have either one or both of their parents outside of the country working to send money home. Many of them have not seen one or both of their parents in years. We have seen many children’s lives changed because of this practice. This investment will have lasting effects one person at a time until the overall effects are felt and seen. Many of the youth who serve at these camps with us could spend their time investing in themselves on their own futures yet they choose to serve for the good of the children and the future of the nation. If you want to have a winning 2013, invest in the people around you in order to strengthen your nation.
My goal for 2013 is to live like Abraham, Moses, and Nehemiah. What is your goal? Are you setting yourself up to have a winning 2013 or will you continue on in 2013 as you did in 2012, 2011, 2010 etc.? The choice is yours. Please make the right one. Encounter God through His Word and prayer. Learn to serve Him by investing in the people around you. Be ready to sacrifice comfort to serve your nation so that the Lord will be honored. If you do these things then you will have a successful 2013 no matter what happens around you because God will bless you the way that He blessed Abraham, Moses, and Nehemiah.