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New Year - What Are You Going To Do With Another Year?
New Year is close at hand. People are already planning ahead of their activities for the whole year; others make their resolutions, and others just don't care. While others are pondering over on what they are going to do with another year, I'd like to share with you what most people have always been overlooking and forgetting - God's mercy.
Others might find the title of this hub frivolous for they would argue that they’ve always had another year, and they would ask what makes this coming year any different from today’s? I plead to you brothers and sisters to please not take this for granted that you can just assume you’ll always have another year. All of the years that we had is a gift from God. We live in a borrowed time.
I would like us to read a parable that was told by the greatest storyteller of all time, our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the "Parable of the Barren Fig Tree."
Luke chapter 13, verses 6-9
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’
We Live on Borrowed Time
This phrase is often heard told to a man who had survived a near death situation. When we see a man who survived from an accident when most probably he should have died, we tell that man that he is now living on borrowed time. It's like telling him he should have died but yet lived. He now lives in a borrowed time. It’s a phrase that suggests limits. The time borrowed will eventually cease.
The parable tells us of a fig tree which is to be cut down but was once again given another chance to bear fruit. But what's interesting here is the chance given wasn't permanent, it was only temporary, a borrowed time like that of a man sitting on a death row and was somehow legally reprieved. The fig tree is us and the mercy or tolerance of God is granted upon us in a given limited period of time. Hold on, wait a minute; I thought God's mercy endures forever? True. But to whom?
Listen to what Psalm 103: 17-18 says about this.
But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with everyone. Oops! Sorry about that. With whom? with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
Oh how wonderful it would be to be included in God’s everlasting love and mercy. To be outside of it is the worst thing I’d be in. A self-righteous, ungodly man who lives in the absence of God does not and cannot bear fruits. He was lent a borrowed time, hence he is given the chance to accept our Lord Jesus Christ as savior, so that once and for all he can bear fruits. God's mercy does not endure forever to the unrepentant; there will come a time when His mercy will cease and bring judgment to the impenitent sinner.
Exodus 34: 6 tells us that God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, and in verse 7 - yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished.
He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. Yes, God is compassionate but He is also just.
Vineyard Owner’s Disgust
One more thing to notice here is the vineyard owner's disgust of the barren fig tree; he said "why does it even use up the ground?" Why does it even live? It's useless, cut it down now. God is disgusted of us; we don't deserve to live, but because of his grace and mercy we still do.
I’ve often heard people asked “what kind of a merciful God would allow sickness, accidents, disasters, and calamities to happen?” We’re all sinners, we all deserve judgment. The question is not why God allows these things to happen, the question is “what kind of a God still lets us live?” The answer is because God is so gracious, so merciful, so compassionate that causes Him to grant us more time, allowing us to have the time we actually didn’t deserve to repent, to believe.
Seek While HE Can Still Be Found
We should regard the Lord’s patience as salvation. We should repent while we still can. Death, by the way isn’t the only time when God’s mercy ceases to exist. The most frightening thing to me is when you’re still alive and God had already departed from you and He can’t be found. Remember when our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem? He saw a fig tree and found no fruits in it. He cursed it and said “May you never bear fruit again!” The fig tree is still alive and the time God had given it is now overdue and the Lord cursed it to never have bear fruit again.
In Isaiah chapter 55, verse 6 tells us to “seek the Lord while He may be found, to call on Him while He is near” Our Lord, Jesus Christ himself said in John 8, verse 21 “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.” And in verse 23-24, while also confirming His deity, He says this “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am He, you will indeed die in your sins.”
Psalm 32:6 says “Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found.”
There will be a time that even though you’re still alive, God won’t be around. You’ll just die in your sins. Boy, that’s a frightening thought.
Let Us Be Fruitful
And so brothers and sisters, in this coming year which is an undeserved gift from God, let us be fruitful. Remember, our Lord, Jesus Christ has delivered us from living temporarily on borrowed time. We are living in an eternal timeless mercy, mercy that endures forever. And out of deep gratitude and love, let us seek the sheep that wanders lost in the wilderness. Let us call people to repentance, preach the gospel, and spread the good news.
People don’t always have to live on borrowed time. May God use us as an instrument to seek the lost, make the blind see, and release the shackles of the ones who are still prisoners of their sins.
And I close with this verse, Isaiah chapter 55, verse 7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and He will have mercy on them, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.
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