Sermons

Summary: So much for the past year! But, considering the tide of events, it seems we will be facing greater challenges this year. Let’s gear up!

Introduction:

Two teenage brothers grew up as hooligans in a slum, making a living as couriers of illegal substances traded in the streets. These egocentric thugs religiously kept their dodgy earnings and shrewdly started their own illicit modus operandi until they became self-made millionaires in their mid-40’s. They’re extremely fussy in accommodating friends, in fact; they didn’t have many, only a chosen few, yet still mistrusted. They’re both overly protective of their ill-gotten wealth. They never got married for fear of loosing even a meager fraction of their fortune. But they both spent their lives in an unrivaled debauchery. They frequented the most opulent casinos, clubs, and bars in the city. One past midnight, the elder brother had a stroke. He died instantly. As a show off, the surviving brother arranged a gaudy funeral. He even paid people a hefty amount to attend his dead brother’s vigil. He made a very bold attempt - he asked the priest in town to proclaim his brother a saint during the burial rites. The priest, who knew these hoodlums from their childhood, vocally refused. The younger brother adamantly insisted and gestured to bribe the priest $100K to compromise to his ridiculous bid. Upon hearing the amount, the priest said, "Son, with the power vested upon me by the church, I believe we can do something about it". The deal was closed – 50% payment in advance and the balance after the burial.

Burial day came and the priest started to orate before an audience close to fifty, more than half was paid for their attendance. In an introduction, the priest spoke, "This man is a monument of the saying - from rags to riches", the brother curtly grinned staring at the pricey casket of his dead brother. The priest continued in a poetic intonation, "He is an example of hard work; he showed us how to live life to the fullest", the surviving brother took a long deep breath and crossed his arms on his chest, now gazing at the huge posh bouquet of purple orchids next to the coffin. "His business activities have helped many community people find jobs that fed their families", the priest exclaimed in a much louder voice. The brother began to be wary of the priest’s flattering oratory. He wanted to hear the priest proclaim his brother a saint. The priest lowered his voice to casual tone and said, "We all know that this man was an unfair employer, drunkard, gambler, womanizer, and a drug user". The surviving brother’s face turned ruddy and his eyebrows met in opposition; gawking at the priest with his hands on his waist. "Though this wealthy brute had so much, he never gave to charity or to the cause of the church", the priest firmly exclaimed. Those words were more than what the surviving brother can muster. He paced forward to shame the priest but the priest, at the top of his lungs and with open hands stretched towards the brother, proclaimed, "But, comparing to his surviving brother, HE IS A SAINT!"

How do people label us last year? If God’s accounting angels would make a balance sheet of our lives, will they realize profit or deficit? Who we were on the last minute of 2009 was framed by our lifestyle exhibited from day-one to the end of last year. Solomon had two categories of human beings: the Wise and the Fool – the two infinite opposites. The wise listens more, talks less, while the fool is otherwise. The wise wins souls, while the fool wounds souls. I would add, "The wise seeks Christ while the fool shuns Him. And when Christ is met, the wise receives Him while the fool rejects Him".

Proposition:

In the same way that we lived last year, there will be life’s challenges that we need to face again this year. They could be much tougher than the ones that we were able to overcome last year. There are several principles that I can suggest we need to take to face the challenges of the New Year:

1. Analyze your Past!

2. Stabilize your Present!

3. Organize your Future!

With these principles, we should be able to face and eventually overcome the challenges that we would face this year 2010.

1. Analyze your Past!

"Be very careful, then, how you live-- not as unwise but as wise…"

How did you live your life in 2009?

Illustration:

I heard of a machine that analyzes a person’s life. I don’t know how true it is because I haven’t seen one. You only need to insert a coin, punch your gender, age, weight, height, smoker or non-smoker, press "go"… and bingo… in few seconds you get a stub that tells you how long you would live. Too good to be true!

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