Some humor and thoughts concerning new year’s. My new year’s resolution is to get better at pretending to know the words to Auld Lang Syne. My grandparents had resolutions like donating more time & money to charities. I’ve decided to make my own coffee once a week. My new year’s resolution is not to shovel snow. Since I’m gonna be in Florida, I feel pretty good about it. I love when they drop the ball in Times Square. It’s a nice reminder of what I did all year. A new years resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other. This New Year’s I resolved to lead a better life. Now all I have to do is find someone who will trade lives with me. But that’s not going to be a problem this year. This year that whole better life thing is going to come to pass. That’s the new year’s way promise we’re going to make and keep. As 2Corinthians 5:17 says, “So, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see everything has become new! One of baseball’s greatest pitchers was Satchel Paige. For twenty-four years he pitched in the Negro leagues and then joined the Cleveland Indians and later the Saint Louis Browns. In 1971 he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. While he is justly famous for his exploits on the mound, he is also remembered for his Six Rules for Staying Young. 1. Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood. 2. If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts. 3. Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move. 4. Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society. The social ramble ain’t restful. 5. Avoid running at all times. 6. Don’t look back. Something may be gaining on you. All those things will definitely help but we want to focus on something else this morning. Psalm 1 tells us how we can be continually blessed every day, though not related to New Year’s resolutions. The blessings Psalm 1 talks about go much deeper. It’s possible for a person to have a truly blessed and happy life. Psalm 1 begins with a Hebrew phrase that means something like, “O, the blessedness of the one.” “How happy is the one who …” In biblical terms to be blessed means to be rightly related to God so that your life is fulfilled and you experience deep personal satisfaction. It’s important to know that this sort of happiness is not related to circumstances. And it doesn’t come simply by seeking for it. You find
happiness not by seeking it but by doing certain things (and not doing other things). God’s blessing comes as a side benefit of the choices we make. A wise person said that happiness is like a cat. Seek it and it will run from you. But go about your business steadily day by day and soon it comes and curls up at your feet. The people having the toughest time on New Year’s Eve are those looking for happiness by hopping from one party to another and from one bar to another. True happiness and lasting contentment simply cannot be found that way. Many people doubt we can ever find happiness in this world. Psalm 1 assures us that it is possible to live a blessed and happy life, but it come with certain terms attached. Psalm 1 may surprise many people because it begins not with the positive, but with a negative. The blessing begins with what the righteous person does not do. This person doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked, doesn’t stand in the way of sinners, and doesn’t sit in the seat of mockers. Consider the progression involved: Walk … Stand … Sit. Think of it this way. First, the person is walking down the road. Then she stops to hang out with people who aren’t good influences. Eventually they prove to be such good company that he sits down and keeps company with them. What started as casual contact in the end becomes a declaration of personal allegiance. The “counsel of the wicked” means the advice of the morally unstable or weakened. It’s a general term that describes the worldview of those who often seek their own good at the expense of others. The “way of sinners” involves a series of lifestyle choices. The “seat of mockers” means to have close, intimate, long-term fellowship with those who openly reject the Lord and the value of being and doing good. The progression goes like this: Thinking … Behaving … Belonging. There is a progression away from blessings and toward difficulties. Think before you think. Act right before you act. Belong where you’re supposed to belong. The thing is when we avoid such situations and people, thoughts and actions, then we are free to fill our time with good things that can bless us. And that’s the part that really isn’t as easy as people generally believe. As verse 2 says we must delight in good things. For some, it’s tough to delight or be really happy. They look to see what’s wrong. They focus on what’s coming next, and it won’t be good,
rather than staying in the blessing they’re receiving right now. They don’t know how to delight. They think they don’t deserve it, or they’re not used to being happy, or they can’t trust that such good things will continue so they sabotage it. But God wants us to be blessed and be happy and hold onto good things and trust that the Lord wants us to keep them. We need to build our lives around what’s valuable. We need to be loyal to what God gives us. Be shaped by God’s blessings. Hold onto your thoughts that you deserve good people, good events, and happy outcomes. Keep away from thoughts that discourage you or keep you in the same bad cycle that you’ve been in time and again. This sounds so easy to do, but it’s not. A hamster on a wheel running over and over again in the same place has way too much in common with people who return to the same downbeat and destructive thoughts again and again. A new year begins with a new way of thinking and new ideas to think about. The Professor began his class by holding up a glass with some water in it. He held it up for all to see & asked the students “How much do you think this glass weighs?” ’50gms!’….. ’100gms!’ …..’125 gms’ …the students answered. “I really don’t know unless I weigh it,” said the professor, “but, my question is: What would happen if I held it up like this for a few minutes?” ‘Nothing,’ the students said. ‘Ok what would happen if I held it up like this for an hour?’ the professor asked. ‘Your arm would begin to ache’ said one of the students. “You’re right, now what would happen if I held it for a day?” “Your arm could go numb; you might have severe muscle stress and paralysis and have to go to hospital for sure!” Ventured another student. “But during all this, did the weight of the glass change?” asked the professor. ‘No,’ was the answer. “Then what caused the arm ache and the muscle stress?” The students were puzzled. “What should I do now to come out of pain?” asked professor again. “Put the glass down!” said many of the students. “Exactly!” said the professor. Life’s problems are something like this. Hold them for a few minutes in your head and they seem OK. Think of them for a long time and they begin to ache. Hold them even longer and they begin to paralyze you.
It’s important to think of the challenges or problems in your life but even more important is to put them down. Giving our minds free rein to go about and think about anything is not wise nor will it bless us. We need to keep in mind how to learn more about what’s best and what’s right. Find a little time to open scripture and read a small passage, and then think about it for a minute or two. Take time to meditate or to ponder or think about what you want to do, who you want to be, what changes you need to make, how you want to speak, what you should listen to. Train yourself up in thoughts that bless you and those around you. The truth is we can’t go through every night and day and never think about what God’s rules and laws are. The word translated “meditate” means to ruminate, to “chew the cud.” Take your time each day to chew on something good from scripture, about what the Lord needs from you, about yourself, about someone you live with or work with. Feed yourself a spiritual diet and you will begin to be strengthened in your spirit. What makes God’s blessings so different than others is their stability and fruitfulness. They’re like the roots of a tree that brings growth and strength, shade and beauty to the whole tree. One stable person, one blessed person can change the lives of many others. One person who says the right things at the right time, who sticks with the right people, and continues to do the best and make the best choices is the stable force for a family, a business, a classroom, a church, a community, the world, in fact. God’s reach extends through the one whose roots have grown deep into goodness, spread wide through generosity, grown tall through patience, branched far through compassion, and sprouted fruit through hope. Refresh your spirit by obeying God’s word. Encourage your soul by believing in your good purpose. Stay strong in hope by holding fast to Christ Jesus. Be devoted to love by a willingness to serve others. This is how we will prosper in all we do, as Psalm 1 says. Sometimes when I ask someone going through hard times how they are doing, the answer comes back, “I’m surviving.” Some may hear that and think that’s a weak response. But actually it’s a powerful statement of faith. Sometimes surviving is the same as thriving. Some days to prosper is simply to survive, holding on with perseverance and trust that God’s blessings will not remain behind gray clouds.
But God is good. We need to hold fast to what is right. Be blessed by what you believe. Stay near to God’s word. Walk in the good path. Seek Christ’s grace. Keep company with those who bless you. Can the church say Amen?
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