Thank you Faith. Well, happy new year, good morning to everyone. Um, so glad you’re here. If this is your first new year service with us, I just want to state from the beginning today, we’re gonna lay out 23 principles for how you can have a successful year 2023. Amen you guys are laughing because you know, as in the words of that fictional king from Wakanda, we don’t do that here. You know, we get into the word. Here we are returning to the gospel of luke as we kidded on our podcast. We will be in the gospel of luke until jesus returns. But no, we we are thankful for this word. We’re thankful for what God is doing. We’re thankful for this new Year and I’m excited for what God is going to do in and through our church. But the past is just born in that faith. Read to you, it made me think of a song. It was written by the late Sam Cooke. He wrote this song, a change is gonna come. That’s the title for today’s sermon. He wrote this song in 1964, right in the thick of the civil rights movement. It’s one of the most iconic, soulful songs that I think exists. I mean, it’s just amazing in terms of the soulful sound, you can kind of sense his his bewilderment in the lyrics in the song, he expresses a bit of a, of of a doubt that change was possible. But then he returns to the chorus to almost reassure himself that change is gonna come. In fact, the first verse of that song, he says that he was born by a river and just like that river he’s been running ever since echoing a sense of being unsettled, unsure of the future, unsure where he’s headed, hoping to to maybe reach a place of of of being at a state of Peacefulness and tranquility. I thought about that song because in this passage, here We have the Jews recounting to events that took place during their times. They were very turbulent times. Verse one says that there were some Galilean who went to offer a sacrifice and as they were offering their sacrifice to God Pilate killed them and it was so horrendous that their blood spilled over into the place where the blood of the sacrifices would flow. It says that they ming he mingled their blood with the blood of the sacrifice. That was totally horrendous. And then the second event that is counted here by luke says that a tower fell on some innocent bystanders. These were very rough times. And if you were a jew during this particular time, you have some questions, how is it that a man like pilot, a roman oppressor, how could he get away with what he’s doing to the covenant people of God. And then you look at what happened to the people of whom the Tower fell upon your You’re asking yourself a question again, man, what kind of a sinner were they that God would allow that to happen to them. So in the midst of all of that, you may be scratching your head wondering if change is gonna come, What kind of change? What needs to change? What needs to happen for this place to be different? And every new year for each and every one of us, it’s an opportunity to think about growth and change. Some of us do it naturally because you are high capacity, you like to get things done, you you like to accomplish things and so you think about the next thing to accomplish and so the new year for you, what do I need to change to accomplish? The next thing that I want to get done in life? Others of you, life is hard, really hard, really frustrating. Maybe this past year wasn’t the best year for you. And so the new year is a reminder to you that maybe there’s some hope, maybe there’s a change that you might enjoy that you might benefit from. And so you look at the new year with a sense of hope, but yet maybe still uncertain because I’m the same person, it’s a new year, but I’m still the same person, Could I change? Is it possible for me to change? Is it possible for my circumstances to change? And so today, when we look at this passage, what I want you to think about and what I want you to consider as it relates to our lives today. Change real change begins with our relationship to God. It always begins there any kind of growth. Any kind of change begins there. If you are the high capacity individual that likes to accomplish things, you are tempted to think that change begins with your own strength and guess what? You will accomplish some things and you will miss the urgency of the statement that Jesus said, something worse will happen to you. Something worse. Yeah, you may succeed in this life and changes some things and making things the way that you want them to be for you. You may enjoy a little bit of gladness, but as long as you continue to think, all of life centers around what you can do, you’re going to miss it and something worse will happen to you. and then two others of us in the room, you’re looking at this New Year and you’re reminded that and I’m kind of the same person going into this New Year and I want to change and you need to be reminded of this real change begins in your relationship with God. You see it’s in the midst of troubling times, it was very common for Pilate and other roman officials to act out in violence towards the people of God. And it’s in these times that jesus comes, it’s in the time of people suffering unexpected tragedy and jesus comes and yet not many people recognize So in those 1st 5 verses, no other gospel account speaks of these two incidents, but luke highlights them. And what they demonstrate is that life is sometimes unfair. The jews are tempted to think during this time there’s something bad happening to you is an indication that you are a sinner. And jesus lays that to rest and says no, but you all need to be mindful of something worse happening to you. And that is that you miss God’s coming to you. God’s grace being offered to you God meeting you where you are right now. So life is sometimes unfair and we can get hung up on that. Just as the jews were in this situation being perplexed, wondering asking deep questions, why would this happen to these people. And yet in the midst of all of that, we know that God is still just because it comes to them in this situation. And when it comes, he understands the environment, he understands what’s going on. He understands the character of pontius Pilate. He understands that the creation has been impacted by sin. He understands all of these things. And yet he presses to the root of the issue. He says, unless you repent, you will likewise perish. And he’s not talking about simply dying, everyone will die. He’s not talking about just death. But he’s talking about eternal separation from God since that’s far worse. That’s far worse than something bad happening to you in this life. I think a lot of people don’t believe that they don’t understand that. I think there’s inherently within us, a belief that we deserve better. That we deserve to have good things happen to us, that we deserve to be blessed, that we deserve, you know, to be comfortable and prosperous in life. We were wired that way. We think that we deserve that. Now, that’s not to say that God doesn’t bless us and that God doesn’t make it possible for us to enjoy the blessing of his creation. However, we don’t deserve it. We don’t I mean, I don’t think we understand just how far sin separates us from a holy God and it is a vast chasm. And yet in that reality, it’s this reality that jesus is willing to leave heaven be born in a manger as pastor mike talked about last week, among the lowest of lowest of men coming to us, willing to suffer on our behalf so that we might be restored back to God. Yeah, here is a story of people not really seeing it, not really getting it. And so what does jesus do to try to help them? Well, he tells a parable, he jumps into the parable of a barren fig tree talks about this parable. This parable is an illusion to Micah seven Isaiah five. Reference of God being the owner of the vineyard, wanting desiring to enjoy the fruit of his vineyard and yet being frustrated, there was no fruit, but there was no faithfulness, no expectation of a good God coming to heal us and forgive us of our sin. So, jesus tells this parable and he says to the, to the vine dresser, the owner, he says, look for three years now, I’ve come seeking fruit on this fig tree and I find none. three years public ministry looking or fruit, King, Jesus, three years traveling throughout Israel looking for route. So he says to Divine dresser, he says, cut it down, why should it use up the ground? Let’s put something else in its place. And the vine dresser says, Sir, let it alone this year until I dig around it and put on manure, and what he’s saying is, look, let me break up some of the ground around this tree, throw on a little fertilizer, the manure. And let’s see within the next year, if the nutrients, if the water, if it would get down into the roots and allow this tree to produce some fruit. What an amazing illustration of the fact that God is patient. He comes into this turbulent time for his people preaching a message that the kingdom of God has come into the world and that they are to repent. They are not bearing fruit. They deserve judgment and God demonstrates patience. Now his patience isn’t without limits, he won’t be patient like that forever. But yeah, he is patient. And then from there, it would seem as if luke is just kind of stringing together some random historical things but they all they all come together beautifully when you can see the theme of suffering, when you see the theme of Brokenness, when you see the theme of fruitless nous, they all come together beautifully. So it says the next portion of the scripture that faith read to you, we see jesus teaching in the, in the synagogue on the sabbath day and a woman who had a issue that caused her to be bent over causing her pain in her body for 18 years. Disabling spirit, jesus heals her. On the sabbath day in the Senegal, we talk about the sabbath immediately people say well it’s my day off. That’s that’s how we like to think of the sabbath as a day off, right? You know God worked six days and then on the seventh day he rested, it’s not just a day off, it’s a family day with the father, God the father, it’s a day with him. It’s a day of rest in him, it’s a day of enjoying him and this woman though she had been through so much 18 years laboring to get around, she found the strength, the energy to get to the synagogue on the Sabbath Day, to hear the word of God, there’s some fruit. Yeah, you think of some of the reasons why people will skip church today, right? I just don’t feel like it. Bad hair day got into a fight with someone in my community group, so I don’t want to come to church today. Disabling Spirit, 18 years wants to hear the word, looking to God and the sabbath is not just a day off, it is a day with family, God, the father, it is a day of resting in him. And what does jesus do? He heals her, he goes out of his way to heal her, he goes and lays his hands on her and heals her. I love it. That luke is so detailed about that because it demonstrates the the heart of the father to give us rest. He understands this environment that we are in, he understands the circumstances that you’re wrestling with, he understands that life is just sometimes not fair, he understands all of that, but real change begins with him knowing him or relationship with him and that’s what this woman was after she was pursuing that. And jesus demonstrates that our God is faithful, he meets her in that he healed her. But something else happens in the same setting, that demonstrates the fig tree being fruitless, the ruler of the synagogue protest what Jesus does six days you can come and receive healing, but not on the sabbath day, that’s the type of guy that’s really pretty, you know, high capacity accomplishes a lot, gets a lot done, thinks about getting things done and this is, this isn’t what we do on this day, We got other more important things to get done today. We got goals, we got checklists, we got to get it done and you are disrupting everything self righteous, proud and unable to see that he needs God. He needs God to give him rest, he needs God to forgive him and to grant him repentance, He can’t see it. God is faithful. He meets this woman in this situation. It says that the entire the rest of the people there in the synagogue understood it and saw it, that this was something good that took place. This was God doing something good. He says his adversaries were put to shame when you look at that situation of that healing and you take into consideration what luke tells us in verse one and verse four, there are three causes of suffering and tragedy in this life. The first one, it’s humans sinning against one another, right? We sin against each other and that can cause each other suffering and hardship and difficulty and frustration and pain because we sin against each other. So sometimes in life we may be suffering because we’re suffering from the effects of sin being committed against us and the pain and the heartache that it brings. The second cause of suffering and tragedy is just simply the curse of sin on the whole creation Romans eight says that the whole creation groans longing to be delivered from under the curse or harmony to be restored between God and the sons of God, the Children of God. And so things don’t work as they ought to. Things wear out. Things break down, our bodies break down, bad things happen, unfortunate things happen, sad things happen. God understands all of this. Thirdly, there is demonic spiritual activity that we have to that that we may encounter in life and we have to acknowledge this, Jesus said in the past, it’s not me. But Jesus said in verse 16, that Satan bound this woman for 18 years, Jesus said that that doesn’t mean that every sickness or every disability is can be directly attributed to satan. But there are some, Why do we know that? Because Jesus said it, he said it, he didn’t he doesn’t attribute every sickness that he heals to satan, But he attributes this one. No, he has the benefit of divine knowledge and understanding that we don’t. So we need to be careful but let’s not ignore the fact that there is demonic spiritual activity that intends to oppress, hinder frustrate and hold you back. And yes, God understands he comes to the people in the midst of this. They’re dealing with their own sin against one another. They’re dealing with the Brokenness of sin within the creation. They’re dealing with strong demonic activity and he still comes to them to meet them in that place to bring reel kingdom change and it begins with knowing God. And so this year, as we think about Moving through 2023, I know this isn’t maybe the feel good self help message that maybe some of you expected this morning, but this is real. There are opportunities that God will give you to bring him great glory and honor. Some of them will be through tears and some of them will be through great joy. Getting yourself ready to be faithful to those moments. It’s about your walk with God, your relationship with God, maybe you wanna improve your health and fitness. Great. No problem with that. But what if you you look like a greek god or goddess and yet have abandoned the faith that means nothing to God means absolutely nothing to him. Maybe you want to put away some more funds for future planning. Maybe starting a family or something great, some great resources out there on how on how to do that. Well you can succeed in that and still grow cold in your walk with God and you failed whatever your goals are. I mean they may be good goals but remember this that you you have to cling to your relationship with christ and real growth and real change begins there there is some aspect of your life right now there’s aspects of my own life where I want to grow more in my walk with God. My prayer as of late has been to increase in joy. Joy, I want an increase of the joy of the Lord of My Life in 2023. That starts with my relationship with God figuring out what is killing my sense of rejoicing in him. I don’t know what whatever the case may be. You need to consider that as you think about growth and change in 2023 and you need to remember that God is just that God is faithful. God is patient. God. God has come to us. His grace is available to us and any change and growth that is to be lasting and real in our lives. That begins with him begins with him. Men let me leave you with this in terms of some some more application. The 1st 1st thing I want to say is that in this passage there are three groups of people that I think the message applies to. The first group is look, if you if you are all in with christ you got to repent. There’s an urgent call to repent, turn and know him turn to quit playing the fence with slow foot in it but be all in repent and embrace him when this some of you here today. You need to hear that look just just be all in with him. Second group, you’re like the fig tree That’s been in the garden for three years. You really haven’t seen much spiritual fruit. You need to take, you need to take some time in prayer and intentionally think about what it means to dig up the dole and hard surfaces of your own heart and mind so that the word of God may saturate your soul so that you can begin to produce real spiritual fruit in your life. Look you you if someone were to ask you, if you believe in christ you’d raise your hand, Yes, I believe. Yes, I’m a christian, I’m in church, I’m in community group I give but your life just seems a bit stale, phenomenal. Doesn’t seem like you’re growing much, it doesn’t seem like you’ve grown much in the past few years or so and your faith, you need to spend some time in prayer thinking about what does it look like to cultivate my own heart and mind for it to be saturated with God’s truth that I might bear fruit in him. And then the 3rd group you come here because you’re seeking rest in God, right? I don’t know what tomorrow is gonna bring. I don’t know what I’m gonna do next. I don’t know what’s available to me next. I need some rest in God. Guess what you are in the right place. God calls you, he extends his grace to you in christ spirit of God is able to lift those burdens. I was able to cause you to stand and to have the peace of God to get you through this season that you don’t think you can get through on your own, he’s able to carry you through it and you don’t have to go through it alone either. So whether you know you’ve you’ve been slow footing in and you need to be all in with christ man. It’s simple. You just need to repent. Whether you’re a little bit aware of the fact that you haven’t grown much in your faith. Let’s start digging. Let’s get that soil broken up so that the seed, the water spirit work deeply in your soul. And then lastly, God wants you to rest. He wants you to know that you don’t have to go through this next season alone. And then men, let us pray jesus. I thank you for your sacrifice. Are your miracles, not just because it displays your power over sin and the devil in this world, but because it demonstrates your heart for your people. God, we are thankful that you’ve given us a new year. But we know that we can do nothing apart from your grace apart from your presence, apart from you working in and through us. So God, we ask you to give us not only the rest. That our soul’s desire to give us not only the change that we hope for, but God make it even more clear and certain to us our salvation in christ your love for us and him and how we are your Children, because of him. May that be the solid ground that we stand on, May that be the mountain that we stand on as we sang this morning and the heaven that our heart rejoices in that you made us a part of your family God. We’re so thankful. This year 2023, the year of our Lord You reign. They glorified in and through this church they glorified in and through our families be glorified in and through the young souls that are in here. We pray this in christ name. Amen.