Summary: "How does it look to you now?" This is a good question to ask during the first few weeks of a New Year. (Powerpoints available - #330)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #330.)
Our scripture text this morning is Haggai 2:3-7. The easiest way to find it is to go to the end of the OT & turn back a couple of books because Haggai is the third book from the end of the OT. Listen as I read it to you.
"`Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong, O Zerubbabel,' declares the Lord.
‘Be strong, O Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,' declares the Lord, ‘& work. For I am with you,' declares the Lord Almighty.
‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.'
"This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens & the earth, the sea & the dry land. I will shake all nations, & the desired of all nations will come, & I will fill this house with glory,' says the Lord Almighty."
A. Right now I particularly want to notice the question in the middle of the third verse, "How does it look to you now?" That is a good question to ask during the first few weeks of a new year, "How does it look to you now?"
1. Look back at 201_, how does it look to you now? It probably looks a little different than it did back at the beginning of 201_. Now we can look back & see all the pounds we lost & then regained. We can see the promises we broke. We can see all the hopes & dreams & disappointments & sorrows of 201.
2. We can also ask this question about 201_. How does 201_ look to us now? As we look forward to the prospects of this year, what do we see?
Do we see doom & gloom? Some of the prophets of doom tell us that 201_ is going to be a bad year. But other forecasters tell us that 201_ will be a great year!
B. So what do you see? Do you see clouds, or sunshine? Do you see despair, or hope? What do you see as you look forward in 201_?
ILL. Behavioral scientists have discovered that we usually see things that we prepare ourselves to see, & that this is all centered in a network of nerve cells called the "Reticular Activating System." And everybody here today has a "Reticular Activating System." Did you know that?
The Reticular Activating System works like this. Once something has been brought to our attention & we have been prepared to see it, we'll see it virtually everywhere we go.
For example, if you decide to buy a new car & you make up your mind that you are going to buy a certain brand, a certain body style, & a certain color, all of a sudden you'll see those cars everywhere. You'll see them on the roads, in TV advertisements, in newspapers & magazines. They're everywhere.
Now what has happened? They were always there, but the moment you prepared yourself to see them, your Reticular Activating System kicked in, & suddenly you saw them everywhere.
C. It happens in other areas of life, too. We see what we are prepared to see. If we are prepared to see doom & gloom in 201_, that's what we'll see. If, on the other hand, we have prepared ourselves to see sunshine & opportunities, then that is what we are going to see.
ILL. Do you remember Flip Wilson on TV? Dressed up as Geraldine, he would say, "Honey, what you see is what you get!"
Well, that may not have been exactly true as far as Geraldine went, but psychologists tell us that if we see ourselves as successful, if we see ourselves as strong & healthy, chances are good that that's what we'll be.
On the other hand, if we see ourselves as failures, if we see ourselves as weak & sickly, chances are pretty good that that's what we'll be.
So let's ask the question, "How does it look to you now?" & consider it in 3 different areas.
I. HOW DO YOU LOOK TO YOURSELF?
A. First of all, how do you look to yourself? When you look in the mirror, what kind of person looks back? Who are you inside? What do you see, someone who is weak & constantly failing, someone who isn't worth very much?
Or do you see an eager, optimistic person who can hardly wait for the next day to begin because there are so many things to do? What do you see when you look at yourself?