Summary: While secular society is obsessed with losing weight or exercising more faithfully, the New Year is an opportunity for us to make some spiritual strides.
2012: Spiritual Goals for the New Year
1. Yesterday I tried making sausage with my new manual sausage stuffer.
2. It was an awful experience – ground pork all over me and the kitchen, after several hours I finally ended up with 3 lbs. of Italian sausage.
3. If I ever make sausage again, it won’t be with that sausage maker! Maybe an electric one, but not that one.
4. In a way, 2011 was like that sausage experience: it was a bad year. I am glad it is over! Yet many good times, even in a rough year. God was developing me.
Main Idea: While secular society is obsessed with losing weight or exercising more faithfully, the New Year is an opportunity for us to make some spiritual strides.
I. Goal One: I Will REALIGN Myself With God and the Godly (1-4)
A. I will take REFUGE in the Lord through prayer
B. I will recognize that GOODNESS comes from God, not from within
The idea of “good” here in this context is not necessarily merely moral good, but also good things. God is the only ultimate source of good things, any blessings we have.
James 1:17 may be a Midrash on this, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
C. My peer group will be the actively GODLY
We enjoy fellowshipping with those like us; if we are serious about walking with God, we enjoy others who are; if not, we prefer the company of the compromised. When the football team we root for, our political views, or social status are most important, that determines who we associate with.
D. Matthew Levi had fallen away from his faith; the money bug…
II. Goal Two: I Will CULTIVATE Contentment and Seriously Enjoy Life (5-6)
A. I will view my blessings as ALLOTMENTS from God
1. God Himself is the greatest allotment meted out to we who know Him
2. I will cultivate the habit of giving thanks and blessing his Name
B. I will ENJOY what God has given me
1. Being content, happy, positive: this should be our norm
2. God has portioned out many blessings for us, yet we are tempted to negate them through cynicism, negativism, and a thankless spirit.
3. The joke about the man whose dog played poker; a friend was amazed, but the man only saw the negative side: he’s not good because he wags his tail when he gets a good hand…
C. Somehow we have missed it: we glorify God when we enjoy his blessings with an appreciative heart.
1. Religious legalism that requires us to justify everything we do for some sort of constructive purpose dampens this important teaching
2. We glorify God when we appreciate the person he has blessed us with in marriage, when we smell the roses, when we look at a sunset or savor a beautiful melody. This idea is all but lost.
3. We may be too concerned about removing the secular from the spiritual that we also remove the spiritual from the secular…
4. Christians should have a lust for life, a spirit of joy and freedom within God’s boundaries rather than being bound and allowed an occasional dispensation for wholesome recreation or fun…