Summary: First of a two part series at the beginning of the new year. Three questions to ask ourselves about how we’ve been doing spiritually -- a "New Year’s check up" on the status quo.
Trinity Baptist Church January 7, 2006
A Look Back
Patty and I joined a gym a while back. There’s something different about this one. You don’t just join and then show up and begin working out on your own.
Early in your membership, you have an appointment, for a thorough fitness evaluation. When I say thorough evaluation, I do not mean someone asks you, “so, how do you feel about your physical condition?” This evaluation is with an exercise physiologist and it
lasts for about an hour.
When mine was over, I’d been questioned, weighed, measured, pinched. Then they had the audacity to make me demonstrate -- for better or for worse -- the precise status of my current exercise strength, stamina and endurance.
The point of all the testing and evaluation was to establish some goals -- and you cannot establish realistic goals if you don’t know where you stand. As embarrassing as it was, I got a crystal clear picture of where I was at the starting point. The objective, of course, is, things won’t stay that way.
We‘re finished with week one of a new year. ‘06 is in the books. We can’t rewind -- much as we’d like, we can’t go back and correct anything we did or didn‘t do. But we can reflect -- and evaluate and -- if we’re wise, make change. Change is a dirty word for most people -- especially when it means personal change. But it’s a rare person who wants everything in his life to always remain “status quo”.
It’s therefore appropriate, at the New Year, to evaluate -- and re-orient. Like that physical evaluation, I’d like point you in the direction of some spiritual evaluation. No scales or tape measures, but there are some good measures.
Life isn’t composed primarily of large things, it’s mostly small ones -- it’s made up of the minutes and hours, daily interactions with people, of those little habits and decisions we make as we operate every day. When we reflect on how we use the small pieces of life, we’re thinking like God wants us to. Psalm 39 gives us some insight along those lines. It’s on the screen.
Verse 4, begins:
"Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it." (Psalm 39:4-6)
The New Living translates verses 4 and 5 like this: "Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath." (Psalm 39:4, 5 -- NLT)
David’s words declare three truths we often simply write off. One truth is life is fleeting. Everything we call “life” in the material world has extreme limits. The few dozen years we get go zipping past, ever more at warp speed.
The second truth: this life is not all there is. Our time on earth is just the ground work -- “the preparation period” for everything we will be and know and encounter in the eternal state. Scripture says, every last human being will experience eternity, either in, or apart from God‘s eternal realm.
There’s a third truth in Psalm 39. It rests on the first two: because life is short; because present experience is just the barest beginning of life -- therefore - stop and evaluate!
We know Christ will evaluate us. He will bring Christians before Him and He’ll examine --
our faithfulness -- our growth in Christ -- He will inspect the fruit and kingdom impact our lives have had. Doesn’t it make sense that we should regularly do the same?
Evaluating and appropriate changes are crucial so we don’t get stalled in our progress. So -- what would it be worth to you to set aside a couple of hours, right at the start of this year, to evaluate and lay some plans for your progress in the coming months? What kind of value would it be for you to take what we talk about today and process it?
Will you reject passivity? Passivity runs rampant in American culture and in the Church. Will you dump the “I can’t” attitude? Will you quit making excuses for not growing in Christ? God has such grander things in mind -- He so wants to work in us and through us all the way to the finish line.