Summary: We have many wishes for the coming year, but we often miss the most important ones.
There is a story. A fortune-teller gazes into a crystal ball and says to her client, a frog: "You are going to meet a beautiful young woman with great smiles and lofty dreams of helping people who are miserably ill. From the moment she sets eyes on you, she will have an insatiable desire to know all about you, practically everything in your being, even all areas of your body and life. She will be compelled to get close to you - you’ll fascinate her." The frog said, "Really? That’s great! Where will I meet her? Will I meet her at a singles club; in a dance party; in the middle of blooming gardens; in a royal gathering, or where?" The fortune-teller answered, "Not in any of those you mentioned, you ambitious frog. You’ll meet her in a Biology Class. You’ll be a specimen."
Before each year unfolds, people are much more eager to have at least an insight of what lies ahead. This is the time of the year when the psychics and fortune-tellers kick-off with their predictions and anticipations – often money-oriented predictions. Others who have eerie expectations browse back to that classical book of the famous Nostradamus of the 16th century, particularly his prediction of December 2012 – a comet plunges onto our planet; world war 3 and other creepy predictions.
The Bible is clear that Jesus may come anytime –even as you read this sermon, maybe little later, perhaps sooner… who knows? A week ago, we celebrated Christmas and sang "Joy to the world, the Lord is come". If we want our year (2010) to be full of joy in the Lord, we need to rest in the promises and provisions of our God Almighty, the El-Shaddai. There will still be hardships in the world – natural calamities, political unrest, economic crisis, moral deterioration, religious conflicts, rumors of war, acts of terrorism, you name it. But amidst all these, the Lord has promised us abundant life.
The psalmist offers us invaluable assets to ensure that we live an abundant life in a joyous year ahead - A Recreated Heart; A Renewed Spirit; and a Retained Presence.
1. A Recreated Heart
"Create in me a pure heart, Oh God" v.10
The heart is the seat of emotions. The Bible equates heart with our reasoning, feeling and our being. But I would personally refer heart to our emotions. Emotion can be classified into two categories.
A. Reactive emotions. It is our reactive expressions to external stimuli – anything in our surroundings that happened. We need an emotion that first leads us to reflect before we react to any circumstance we face in life. Our heart, reactive emotion, will trust in God’s sovereignty when we cannot understand everything that happens to us.
B. Proactive emotions. It is our proactive expressions to internal stimuli – anything in our thinking that we want to happen. We need an emotion that bubbles up joy and inner strength when we brace ourselves to serve God in the ministry. Our heart, proactive emotion, will trust in God’s power to venture to the uncertain as long as God directs it.
For us to have the fulfillment of our New Year’s wishes and dreams, and to ensure that we will live out the song, "Joy to the world", which we loudly sang on Christmas night, we need a heart that is recreated by the power of God. Our hearts make our feelings!
2. A Renewed Spirit
"Renew a steadfast spirit within me" v. 10
Man’s spirit is the center and the foundation of all relationships and achievements. This is where we relationally connect to the invisible God and the visible man.
A. Relationship with God. It is the powerhouse that thrust us into the presence of God, who is a Spirit. We do not connect with God through our emotions, although our spiritual relationship with God is outwardly expressed through our emotions.
B. Fellowship with people. The real bond of fellowship is not in our emotions and physical interactions with people. The strength of the bonds of love that bind us into a spiritual fellowship is in our spirits – spirits that are regenerated by the Spirit of God.
A steadfast spirit has the fervor to worship God and fellowship with people even in times of adversity and conflict. We see hopelessness and helplessness in the world. There are more discouraging people out there, even in our churches, than those who would help us thrive. But a steadfast spirit that is renewed by God makes our going; even when the going is tough.
3. A Retained Presence
"Do not cast me from your presence" v. 11
Man was created and made a social being. We need other beings beside us – seen or unseen, tangible or a thought. In these unpredictable times, we need the presence of God.