Summary: If you want a happy new year, separate yourself from the world and saturate yourself in the Word. That way you can situate yourself by the water. Otherwise, you will be sifted like wheat.
In 1948, nobody expected Harry Truman to win re-election as president of the United States. But on election night, the first scattered returns showed Harry Truman leading over Thomas E. Dewey.
At about midnight, radio commentator H. V. Kaltenborn announced, “Mr. Truman is still ahead, but these are returns from a few cities. When the returns come in from the country, the result will show Dewey winning overwhelmingly.” At 4 a.m., Truman was over 2 million votes ahead, and at 11:13 a.m., Dewey finally conceded the race.
Stunned by his defeat, Dewey later said he felt like the man who woke up to find himself inside a coffin with a lily in his hand and thought, “If I’m alive, what am I doing here? And if I’m dead, why do I have to go to the bathroom?”
In 1948, everybody thought Thomas E. Dewey was THE MAN. They thought Harry Truman was washed up, but history tells a different story, and that’s often the way it is.
People tend to admire the wrong man. They envy the man with power, wealth and charm, but history often tells a different story. It is not the wealthy who are truly blessed. It is not the powerful or the beautiful that last. It is somebody quite different than what most of us think.
Do you want to know who the truly blessed are? Do you want to know who we should truly envy? And how you can be that person in the coming year? Then if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Psalm 1, Psalm 1, where we find out who is truly blessed.
Psalm 1:1 Blessed [O how happy! To be envied with desire] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
Do you want to be truly happy? Do you want to be the true envy of the world? Then 1st of all…
SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM THE WORLD.
Don’t believe what the world believes – Don’t walk in the counsel of the wicked. Don’t behave the way the world behaves – Don’t stand in the way of sinners. And don’t belittle the people the world belittles – Don’t sit in the seat of the mockers.
There is a downward progression here. It starts when you listen to the advice of ungodly people. Then, before you know it, you are living the life of ungodly people and making fun of those who try to live for the Lord. The point is, Don’t even get started on that downward slope. Be careful who and what you listen to.
For generations, since the beginning of time, young and old alike sat together hearing the stories of their ancestors. The story tellers in the family passed their stories on from one generation to another, along with important life lessons, which influenced each succeeding generation. I can remember hearing stories of my extended family, which still profoundly influence me today.
Then TV was introduced to the world, and it became the most influential story teller in almost every family in the west. Children don’t listen to the stories of their ancestors anymore. They listen to the stories told by ungodly producers in Hollywood, who have profoundly influenced two or three generations already.
For example, John Furie, Jr., a media professor at the University of Southern California, spoke to the Chicago Tribune about the brutal and corrupt lead character on The Shield. He told them, “We say, ‘Well, he did a bad thing, a corrupt thing, an evil thing, a cruel thing. But on the other hand, he loves his autistic son and devotes himself to him diligently.’ That is a very human thing, but I think it tends to push us as an audience to not only forgive the errant ways of these characters, but to consider the things that they do when they’re behaving badly to be OK.” (“Cop Shows up the Ante for Anti-heroes,” Chicago Tribune, June 3, 2002)
Today, whole generations of people are being led to believe that bad is good, that there are no moral absolutes, and that one can be a scoundrel and a hero all at the same time.
It’s affecting even those of us in Bible-believing, evangelical churches. In his research, George Barna has discovered very little difference between the beliefs and behaviors of those in our churches compared with those in the world. The same percentage of young people growing up in our Bible-believing, evangelical churches believe that there are no moral absolutes as those who don’t go to church.
We are believing and behaving just like the world. And if we don’t watch it, some of us will begin to mock the very lifestyle we claim to support. We must be careful who and what we listen to on a daily basis, because it will affect our talk and well as our walk.