Summary: In preparation for the new year we must look back, but also plan ahead.

INTRO.- ILL.- Someone came up with these humorous observations or insights about life.

1) A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.

2) I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

3) If it weren’t for STRESS I’d have no energy at all.

4) Whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.

5) Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

6) I know God won’t give me more than I can handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.

7) Someone who thinks logically provides a nice contrast to the real world.

8) We cannot change the direction of the wind... but we can adjust our sails.

9) Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.

10) If the shoe it in every color.

11) If you’re too open-minded, your brains will fall out.

12) There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.

13) Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

14) Junk is something you’ve kept for years and throw away three weeks before you need it.

15) If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you’ve never tried before.

16) My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.

17) If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip.

18) A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.

19) Once over the hill you pick up speed.

Brothers and sisters, we all have our ideas or perhaps insights about life, that is, what’s good, bad or otherwise. These ideas are generally formed by the experience of life, rather than by being taught about life.

What am I saying? I am saying that we don’t listen very well. Our parents have told and told us, but often, we didn’t listen. We had to learn by our own mistakes.

ILL.- For example, my dad smoked all of his adult life. I don’t remember if he ever told me not to smoke, but I got that impression in various ways. How so? It seemed like my dad coughed a lot from smoking. I didn’t like dad’s second hand smoke when I was a child. I didn’t like the smell of smoke on him either. I also didn’t like to clean the inside windows of his car, which were yellow from smoke.

All these things told me NOT TO SMOKE, but did I smoke? Yes, I tried it when I was a teenager. I didn’t smoke very long, because I found that I didn’t like it. It was a fad of my day and still is, but I didn’t care for it at all. I never did inhale because when I tried to inhale I coughed my head off. So I quit smoking after a short time, like a few months and never went back to it.

But the point is, even though I knew I shouldn’t smoke and was probably even told not to smoke, I still had to try it for myself. I had to learn the hard way.

WE DON’T LEARN VERY WELL BY TEACHING. Many things we learn by doing for ourselves or by making our own mistakes.

And all of this tells me that preaching may not do much good! Huh? It’s highly possible that preaching the Word of God may be like water off a duck’s back to most people! If so, why do I continue doing it?

I have preached about 38 or 39 years of my life and I am still doing it because I think some of it will rub off on some people. I am not foolish enough to believe that everybody will gain from my preaching, but I think some people will.

And more importantly, I keep preaching because I believe in God’s promise more than I believe in people.

Isaiah 55:10-11 “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

God says that His Word will not return empty. That could be the read Word or the preached Word. IT WILL ACCOMPLISH WHAT GOD DESIRES EVEN WITH A POOR MESSENGER.

God is faithful. He can be trusted. Men cannot always be trusted. People will fail, even the best of them, but God never fails, never wavers, never changes, never falters, and never fails us!

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