Summary: (PowerPoint Slides and Cell Study Notes freely available by emailing Emile@Wolfaardt.com) Positioning yourself for a victorious New Year...
Something Old, Something New
This morning I want to try to wrap up 2008 well for us, and then launch effectively into a 2009 filled with promise, filled with potential, filled with power.
I asked the Lord this week for something that would help us, inspire us, perhaps even change us. I believe God has given me something for us as a body of believers both collectively as well as individually. If you will take this morning’s message with the same diligence it was sought, I believe it will be in 2009 God provision in your time of need, God’s protection in your time of danger, God’s focus in a time of confusion, and God’s key to happiness and fulfilment in a time when people are running to and fro in panic.
Please open your Bibles with me to the words written by a prophet a little more than 2700 years ago, his name was Isaiah, Isaiah and the 43 chapter.
While you are turning there I must confess that I am always somewhat ambivalent talking about the New year and New Years resolutions.
A boy told his father, "Dad, if three frogs were sitting on a limb that hung over a pool, and one frog decided to jump off into the pool, how many frogs would be left on the limb?" The dad replied, "Two." "No," the son replied. "There’s three frogs and one decides to jump, how many are left?" The dad said, "Oh, I get it, if one decides to jump, the others would too. So there are none left." The boy said, "No dad, the answer is three. The frog only DECIDED to jump."
You see the problem with New Years resolutions. They only work if you decide to use them.
I saw a recent article that listed the five most popular resolutions made most every year.
The 5th was to take up a new hobby,
the 4th was to make more money,
the 3rd most popular resolution was to improve relationships,
the 2nd was to stop smoking,
and the most popular New Years resolution, you guessed it, losing weight.
A woman walked into her bathroom at home. As she did, she saw her husband weighing himself on the bathroom scales, sucking in his stomach. The woman thought to herself, "He thinks that he will weigh less by sucking in his stomach." So, the woman rather sarcastically said to her husband, "That’s not going to help." Her husband said, "Sure it will. It’s the only way I can see the numbers."
I believe strongly in the value of resetting your course each year, of evaluation what lies behind and embracing what lies ahead with intention and by design.
Behavioral scientists have discovered that we better equipped to see things that we are prepared to see and to accomplish things that we have determined to accomplish. This is all centered in a network of nerve cells called the "Reticular Activating System" or RAS. Everybody has a RAS - and it works like this:
Once something has been brought to our attention, and we have been focusing on it, the brain creates neuro-pathways to look for that thing again - and so you will be more aware than you would otherwise have been. For example, 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, and a certain color. Guess what - you see those cars everywhere. You see them on the roads, in TV advertisements, in newspapers and magazines. They’re everywhere. Now what has happened? They were always there, but the moment you were prepared to see them, your RAS kicked in, created neuro-pathways and suddenly you saw them everywhere. Exactly the same thing happens with goals. When we set goals we are actually programming our Reticular Activating System in our favor to give us the best chance to accomplish those goals. Why do you think successful people set goals? If you are prepared to see doom and gloom this year, then that’s what you will see. If, on the other hand, you prepare ourselves to see growth and opportunity and the goodness of God, then that’s what we are going to see.