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Summary: The second of a two part series at the beginning of the New Year; this one, regarding what can we give ourselves to as a new year dawns.

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Trinity Baptist Church January 14, 2007

Looking forward

(Psalm 39:4-6)

(Played “Resolve” video from www.sermonspice.com)

That video addresses it: a year begins and many of us get -- temporarily -- motivated to set goals, make promises or lay out new directions. Some of those actually work out!

Behind each urge is the concept that “this year things will be different.” A New Year means a new start. Change is in the air. So, we get on tracks like: getting in shape -- or, spending less and saving more -- or, eating better and getting healthier. One of the all time favorites for Westerners: lose weight!

Maybe you heard the story about the wife who walked into the bathroom just as her husband was getting on the scales to weigh himself. As she watched, he got on, then as he sucked in his stomach. She said sarcastically, "That’s not going to do any good!!" He said, "Sure it will. It’s the only way I can see the numbers."

Let me remind you of what we talked about last time. I challenged you to take a look back -- to sort of diagnose the state of your Christian life. I gave you three questions drawn from biblical principles: questions we ought to ask and answer consistently -- and honestly -- before God.

The first was “How’s your heart?” The Bible says my heart encompasses my mind, emotions and will. Your heart is the “real” you. If you want to check up on your spiritual condition, your heart is the place you need to begin.

God wants your heart. We talked about four gauges which disclose what’s going on in our hearts. One is our speech: how we talk divulges the secrets of our heart. Another is how we handle money. The third was what and whom we love. Finally, there was worship -- the worship alone of God and the way we worship Him. The heart question is the crucial question.

The second question was, “What are your commitments?” Every day you breathe, you make dozens of choices -- choices based on prior commitments you’ve made. Commitments we have to things like comfort, or money, entertainment and the like, daily direct how we spend our days.

Christ has assigned priorities to His followers. My response should be to align my commitments with His priorities. We‘ll talk about those today.

The third question, which then emerges from your commitments: “What are your daily habits?” The minutes, hours and days we have we spend -- we invest each resource somewhere to some one or some thing. My investments become the habits I have grown to practice.

Habits, in turn, are largely the direction and course of my life.

God has candidly and graciously told us how and where we can invest life for maximum return.

I trust you carved out some time to wrestle with those questions. If you haven’t -- if you weren’t here last week, it‘s not too late. But, don’t just let things go. Don’t move on into 2007 before you do. If we don’t accurately assess where we are, we just stay passive and paralyzed and no real change will happen. Start with the look back. Your heart, commitments, habits.

We began with Psalm 39. I want to again highlight two verses. David wrote,

"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)

The words aren’t hard to interpret. God’s Word says: life is short -- it’s like your breath vapor on one of these cold nights. Now you see it, now you don’t. Every one of us gets a limited number of trips around the Sun. You need to understand the implications of that.

That Truth ushers us to a second one. Earthly existence is not all there is. What we now call “life” is just preparation for what we will be and know and experience in God’s eternal presence. And that’s why it is so critical that we stop and evaluate. If we don’t, we simply, by default, begin sliding back to living life the old ways. Evaluation is meant to direct us to intentional living.

If you’ve done some evaluating -- and if you’re ready to take intentional steps, the Bible offers us some solid investments. I want to talk about three of them this morning -- they’re intimately related. One flows into the next.

The first investment you can make this year is:

1. Invest in knowing God. (Colossians 1:9, 10)

Paul prayed for the Christians in first century churches. He told them often what he prayed for them. That’s the case for the Colossian Christians. Chapter 1 tells us some of what he prayed.

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