Summary: When we look into the future, we can be filled with faith or fear. We can choose to be a blessing or dread tomorrow. Your choice.
January 6, 2002 Hebrews 11:20-22
“A faith-filled future”
Of all the topics that I could bring up to welcome you into a new year, probably the worst would be to talk about new year’s resolutions. But that is exactly what we are going to do today. Oh, it won’t be the kind of resolutions that you have made in the past. You know what I’m talking about – those resolutions about keeping the house clean this year, or paying your bills on time this year, or getting your credit cards paid off this year. Or maybe it’s the most famous one of all – starting an exercise program so that you can lose those holiday pounds before spring when the winter coat can no longer hide them.
Some of you can identify with the woman who wrote this poem.
‘Twas the month after Christmas, and all through the house,
nothing would fit me, not even a blouse.
The cookies I’d nibbled, the fudge I did taste,
all the holiday parties had gone to my waist.
When I got on the scales there arose such a number!
When I walked to the store (less a walk than a lumber).
I remembered the marvelous meals I’d prepared,
the gravies and sauces and beef nicely rare.
The pies and the cakes, the bread and the cheese,
and the way I never said, "No thank you please."
As I dressed myself in my husband’s old shirt,
and prepared once again to do battle with dirt---
I said to myself, as only I can
"You can’t spend the winter disguised as a man!"
So away with the last of the sour cream dip,
get rid of the fruit cake, every cracker and chip.
Every last bit of food that I like must be banished,
‘till all the additional ounces have vanished.
I won’t have a cookie, not even a lick,
I’ll want only to chew on a long celery stick.
I won’t have hot biscuits, or corn bread, or pie,
I’ll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.
I’m hungry, I’m lonesome, and life is a bore ---
But isn’t that what January is for?
Unable to giggle, no longer a riot ...
Happy New Year to all and to all a good diet!
But, like many new year’s resolutions that we make, the one about going on a diet is quickly broken as we sit and snack inside our houses during the winter months. One lady’s husband had made just such a resolution. Late in January, the wife walked into her bathroom at home. As she did, she saw her husband weighing himself on the bathroom scales, sucking in his stomach. The wife thought to herself, "He thinks that he will weigh less by sucking in his stomach." So, the woman rather sarcastically said to her husband, "That’s not going to help." Her husband said, "Sure it will. It’s the only way I can see the numbers."
So this morning, we will not be encouraging a weight-loss resolution. Instead, we’re going to be talking about something much harder. I’m going to encourage you to endeavor to make a resolution to be a blessing to the people in your circle of influence over the coming year. That’s what we sang a few moments ago – Make me a blessing. But you say, “I already do that. Every time that someone sneezes, I say, ‘Bless you’.” That’s not exactly what I have in mind. Nor do I mean that when you are getting ready to end a conversation with someone on the phone or in person, that you end it by saying, “The Lord bless you”. Blessing someone is more than just words, although it can start with words. We’ll talk more about what is involved in blessing someone as we go along.
In order to help us become blessings in other’s lives, we’re going to examine three men – Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Before we get any further, I want you to quickly notice a couple of things about the blessings that they gave. First, the blessings were to their family. With Isaac, it was his immediate children. With Jacob, it was his grandsons. And with Joseph, it was to his clan. If you only have enough blessing to reach a few select people this year, let that blessing flow to your family members. Concentrate your time and energy on them more than on anyone else this year. Second, notice that the blessing came near the end of their lives. Gen. 27, which is where the blessings to Jacob and Esau are recorded, tells us that Isaac thought he was about to die. Here in Heb. 11:21, it says that Jacob blessed Ephraim and Manasseh “when he was dying”. In fact, in Gen. 48:2, it says that Jacob rallied the last of his strength just to sit up on his bed when Joseph brought in his two boys. And Joseph blessed “when his end was near” (vs. 22).