The first of day of school. The emotions of this day are all over the place. A few years ago there was a greatcommercial that summed up two responses people have on this first day.
For some parents back to school is the most wonderful time of the year, but for other’s its not. Do you remember the first day you dropped your child off at kindergarten
or maybe that day you dropped them off at college.
For parents the first day of school can be filled with great joy and sorrow or maybe the feelings are fear and anxiety. For students it’s the same. You might be like those kids in the commercial and dread the first day of school but other children are excited to get back and students at every level are filled with fear and anxiety about the first day in a new grade or a new school. Will I make friends? Will I succeed? Will anyone eat lunch with me in the cafeteria?
The first day of school can be a challenge, but the challenge of first days is not limited to students and parents. Do you remember the first day on a new job? There may have been great joy and excitement as you began a new career but you might have felt fear and anxiety as you stepped into a position that was unfamiliar. There is fear and anxiety in new jobs. Can I do it? Will I be successful? Will people like me? Will anyone eat lunch with me? Isn’t it interesting that some of our fears and anxieties never change.
There are other first days that cause stress and uncertainty. How about the first day you held your new child? Can I really do this? Or the first day you brought that child home and you were really on your own. Or the first day of retirement when there is nothing on your calendar for months on end. What will you do? What will fill your days? Will anyone want to each lunch with you? Again some of our fears and anxieties never change?
No matter what first days we face, we can learn how to face them with faith by looking at Jesus’ first days. There was his first day on earth, the first day of ministry, the first day after his resurrection and the first day of his church and as we look at these first days we find what’s needed to make it through ours.
The first thing that happened on the first day of Jesus life was that angels found a group of shepherds and gave them a message. This is from Luke 2:10-12. From the very first day, God had a plan for Jesus. He was born into this world to be the savior, Christ the Lord. Now granted, Jesus didn’t hear this message when he was born, but because it was recorded we know that those shepherds must have shared what they heard with Mary and Joseph who over time shared it with Jesus. From the first day of his life, Jesus was told that God’s plan for him was to be the savior. Jesus always knew that God had a plan for him.
On every first day we face we need to remember that God has plan for us. God has a plan for us in school, in sports, in the band, in our dorm, at our business, with our families and in our retirement. God has a plan for us and we need to step into our first days confident in God’s plan and purpose. We need to tell our children that God has a plan for them in the classroom and on their teams. We need to send our children to college with the encouragement that God has a plan for them at school and in life and that we stand with them as they search and prepare for it. We need to begin new jobs confident that God has bought us to this place and time for God’s purpose. Even in retirement God has a plan for us and it’s important to seek out that plan because it’s more than just reading and watching tv or watching the grass grow.
All of us have a God given plan and in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren says that we all have a purpose or mission that is shared and a mission that is specific. The shared mission we all have is to be part of the church which shares the love, grace and truth of Jesus with others. Together we are called to the purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and the most important way we do this is by being part of the body of Christ that loves the serves the world. This is part of God’s plan we need to share with our children as they start school. They are part of a church where we are all called to love others and treat others well and speak kind words to them. While we all share in this mission, we also have a specific mission.
Our specific mission is to be used by God in the unique way God has created us. The purpose of some may be to teach and lead the children and we need to pray for our teachers who face their first day tomorrow. The purpose of some is to care for the needs of our children in the schools, so those who drive buses and vans, those who cook and clean, those who provide support services to children need our support and prayers. The purpose of some is to lead a business or lead in our community or government. The purpose of some is to work in health care or finances, or to work in retail, service industries or higher education. God has called each of us to a specific purpose and as we fulfill that purpose we find meaning. On our first days we need to remember that God has a plan for us.
We also need to remember that on every first day we face God is says to us, You are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased. This is what God said to Jesus on his first day of ministry which took place at his baptism. The baptism of Jesus is the first time we see Jesus as an adult in the gospels and it marks the beginning of his public life and ministry and on that first day as he comes up out of the waters of the Jordan River it says… Luke 3:22
You are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.
No matter what first day we are facing, this word brings us much needed encouragement. New beginnings bring challenges and uncertainty, it raises questions about our competence and ability and during those times of doubt we need to know that we are God’s children, that we are loved by God, and that God is pleased with us. Students, as you head off to school where you may hear harsh and critical words from others, remember that you are loved by God. If you are starting college and entering into a world that will challenge your faith and world view, remember that you are a child of God who is loved by God. If you are starting a new joy or any new beginning, remember that God is pleased with you and loves you. This is a message we need to hear on first days and every day.
These words were said at the baptism of Jesus not so much for the benefit of the crowds who really didn’t know what was going on but for the benefit of Jesus. On this first day for Jesus he needed the reminder of God’s love and if Jesus needed to hear this, how much more do we? We not only need to hear it we need to share it. We need to communicate this message to your children, share it with friends and use it to encourage coworkers. If we are willing to share this message then at every stage of life we will hear these words that bring us encouragement and strength. You are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.
The third thing we need to know on our first day is that God will not abandon us on the second or third day but that God will walk with us every day and that is what we learn from the first day of Jesus’ resurrection. Staying in Luke’s gospel, the first resurrection appearance of Jesus was not at the empty tomb but along a road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Luke 24:13-15.
Jesus walked with them that day and he listened to their hopes and dreams, their disappointments and fears. As Jesus walked with them he taught them the truth of God’s word and encouraged them by taking time to eat with them and bless them and it was during the evening meal where their eyes and hearts were opened. Luke 24:28-32.
The first day of Jesus resurrection was spent walking with his followers and Jesus appeared to them many days after that so as we face the uncertainty and anxiety of our first days we need to remember that God is here to walk with us and God will keep walking with us. As God walks with us he listens to us, he takes the time to lead and teach us and then he also is willing to open our hearts and minds so we can truly see him with us. We do not face any new beginning alone; God is there to help us on the first day and to help us every day. The question is will we take the time to look to God and lean on him for help?
The final first day I want us to consider comes from the book of Acts which was also written by Luke, and it comes from the first day of the new church which was carrying on the work of Jesus. Acts 2: 1-4. The first day of the church was a day of power. It was a day when God’s power was given to the followers of Jesus so they could do everything God had planned for them.
Our first days are also marked with God’s power. The power of God is with us. Jesus was the Savior of the world through the power of God. Jesus ministered to people in the power of God. Jesus rose from the dead through the power of God. The church fulfilled its purpose and shared the news of Jesus through the power of God. Every important first day in Jesus life was marked by the power of God and we will be able to make it through our first days because the power of God is with us. If you are stepping into a new job find confidence and courage in the power of God. If you are stepping into the unknown of retirement you can do it because God’s power is with you. If you are starting in a new grade or in new school you can make it through because the power of God is with you. The power of God is with us. .
Tomorrow is a first day for students but we all face first days in life and as we do we need to learn from Jesus’ first days that
• God has a plan for us.
• We are God’s children and we are loved by God.
• God will walk with us.
• The power of God is with us.
First day of school… First day of college… First day on a new job… First day of retirement… First day as a new parent…
What thoughts and feelings did you have on these first days? What first days are you facing right now?
What has helped you make it through your first days?
Read about what happened on four first days of Jesus’ life. What lessons can you learn from these first days?
• Luke 2:1-20
• Luke 3:21-22
• Luke 23:13-35
• Acts 2:1-12
On all your first days… remember
1. God has a plan for your life.
• How can you be part of the shared purpose God has for all of us as part of the church? Find one way to connect with the church this fall that will help you fulfill this purpose.
• Identify the specific purpose God has for you.
2. You are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased. Write down this message from God and read it every day. Share this message with others, especially your children.
3. God walks with us each day to listen, talk and encourage. Take time to experience God’s presence with you. Read God’s word and listen to Him in prayer. Accept God’s offer of grace and love.
4. God gives us power to accomplish his purpose and plan. Ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit so you can do all you want to do and all that God is asking of you.