A Bucket List For 2012
Texts: Various
Introduction: : New Years day is one of the world’s oldest holidays, first celebrated by the Babylonians some 4000 years ago. The New Year for them began on March 23 and was a spring time celebration. The Chinese celebrate it on the second new moon following the winter solstice which means it varies between mid January and mid February. The Jews celebrate it in September at the Rosh Hashanah celebration, a harvest celebration. The Muslim calendar is based on the movements of the moon and for them New Year occurs in March and is a spring time celebration. For the western world, it was Julius Caesar who changed the date to January 1st as New Years’ day and by the late 1500’s it became the official date for the beginning of the western calendar year. For all these groups the New Year meant a new start but what if we looked at the year ahead not so much as a starting  point but as an opportunity to complete the things that are already begun. In 2007 Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman made a movie called ‘The Bucket List’. In their bucket list it was places to see and things to do, but what of the person who is a disciple of Jesus Christ, is it possible there is a Bucket List for them as well? I’ve borrowed some ideas from the Bible.org site, some suggestions as to what our Bucket List for 2012 ought to look like. These are the seven items on this list:
John 20:21  -  “Again Jesus said, Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you."
Isn’t amazing how peace and purpose always fit so perfectly together. Once I loose purpose it seems that shortly afterwards I also loose peace. However once I gain purpose the opposite is also true. What Jesus had in mind as our purpose was telling others of the importance and availability of forgiveness. Our purpose as Christians in 2012 is helping people find forgiveness through Jesus Christ. That might be the forgiveness of sin and the receiving of Jesus as Savior or it might be the forgiveness of sin that impedes me from taking the next step as a Christian. Did you see what Jesus said, “As the Father has sent Me…”, what did He mean by that? I think it refers to the way that the Father sent the Son, meaning there was no back up plan, no plan B. Jesus was the Father’s only plan for bringing the truth of forgiveness of sin to all mankind. Then Jesus says, “…I am sending you.” I think it has the same thrust, there is no plan B, you and I are it, but we also are not alone. The Holy Spirit is here as the power, the guide, that directs our way. If you feel this is greater than what you could ever do, that’s good, you should feel that way, it means that apart from Christ I can do nothing, but with Him, nothing is impossible. Now that’s purpose, and in that there is great peace. Put rediscovered purpose on your bucket list for 2012.
Eph. 5:20  -  “Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Although Paul here recommends that we be thankful, in other places he comes right out and says it is the will of God for us, or perhaps more strongly put, it is God’s command that we be thankful to Him (1 Thess. 5:18). Is it that God somehow needs our thanksgiving, is that He needs to hear us say ‘thank-you’? Since God is all powerful. He needs nothing and all knowing, knowing our very thoughts, neither of these can be reasons for why God commands us to be thankful. Is it possible that God commands it because He knows we need it for our own well being. When we are thankful for all of what God does and for Who He is, then thankfulness begins its transformative work in us through Christ Jesus. Think for just a moment about all the things in your life that you’re discontented with, unsatisfied by, frustrated in. Whether they are relationships, tasks, emotional issues, are they getting better by your strategy of continually visiting them? What if God is inviting you even today, even all this year, to begin to leave that place and to choose to obey His command to be thankful to Him for all things. Is it possible that being thankful will set us free from self defeat to being people who declare openly and repeatedly our dependence on God through thanksgiving? Consider Phil. 4:6,7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God  and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Put thanksgiving on your bucket list for 2012.
I Thessalonians 4:11,12 -   Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”                                                                                                                

Let me share with you two seemingly opposing quotes regarding ambition. Salvadore Dali said, “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”
Samuel Johnson, “To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition.”
What both imply is that ambition is something we all need and that we all need to control. When you read the quote about ambition in Scripture it seems like it’s aiming too low… to lead a quiet life. Many of us would feel like that’s too plain Jane until you realize that God uses the lives of those open to Him for His purposes before He ever uses the lives of those who have their own glory as goal. What is your ambition for 2012, do you have as much confidence that God can use a simple life to build His kingdom as He can with what you would create for Him?
I Thessalonians 5:16   -  See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.”  
In 2012 we will be called to stand against evil. It may be evil done in poor countries by oppressive governments. It may be evil within our own country, evils like abortion, slavery and hunger. It may be the poverty stricken families of the Congo or Haiti. Despite the scale of the evil we are called to exercise pure and undefiled religion, that’s what James called it when you remember widows and orphans in their distress. Resist evil yet at the same time pursue what is good both for yourself and for all. What is the good thing that God will invite you to pursue in 2012?  Hebrews 13:16 describes these actions as sacrifices of worship even though it’s people who directly or indirectly benefit. Pursue good in 2012.
I Peter 3:15  -  “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
The key to being prepared to speak the truth of Who Jesus is begins by a deep searching of our own beliefs as to who or what is lord of our lives. If indeed Jesus is Lord then all else isn’t. Fear and uncertainty are not lord if Jesus is. Pride and self justification cannot be lord if Jesus is. If Jesus is Lord in my heart then hope is present in my life. What reason can I possibly give for this hope that lies within me, for this hope that has transformed my life? The answer is that Jesus Christ has paid the price of my sin, I am forgiven of all my sin, all of it! In 2012 put ‘being prepared to give an answer for the hope that lies within’ on your bucket list.
Jude 1:24, 25 -  “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
When Jesus Christ comes into your life the term, ‘good enough’ no longer has control over us. We can live our whole life wondering if we are good enough for others to like us, to love us. We can constantly worry if we will be good enough for God’s opinion of us. The thing is, as a Christian our ‘good enough’ is now locked up in the person of Jesus Christ. Is Jesus ‘good enough’, then in Him so are we. He keeps us from falling, He presents us not only without fault but with great joy. Let the praise of God and the glory of God be part of your bucket list.
Titus 2:13 – “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”.
In 2012 rediscover the doctrine of Immanency, the Scriptural teaching that Jesus Christ can return at any moment. What difference do you think it would make in your attitudes and decisions if you believed, really believed that Jesus Christ could come today? The plans, the priorities… they would all change the day that Jesus comes again for His church. Immanency will shut down the fear of tomorrow because when Jesus comes for us it will be a world changing event… the trumpet of God is heard by all, the dead in Christ are visibly resurrected, the ones alive and remaining are changed in an instant and caught up to be with the Lord. Immanency, make it part of your bucket list for 2012.

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