ABCD To 2018
Rev. Lily Lim | On 02, Jan 2018
Proverbs 17:24 (GN)- An intelligent person aims at wise action, but a fool starts off in many directions.
Imagine going on an ocean cruise to an island. After you have been out on the ocean for a week, you say to the captain, “It sure seems like we should have arrived by now. When do we plan to arrive?” The captain answers, “Plans? I don’t make any plans. I just trust God to guide the boat through the wind and waves to the right destination.”
That sounds ridiculous but many people drift through life in the same way.
A statistic was made on Church members and this is what it reports: 10 % of church members cannot be found; 20% of church members never attend Church; 25% admit that they never pray; 35% admit that they do not read their Bibles; 40% admit that they never contribute to the church through tithe or offering; 60% never give to missions; 70% never assume responsibility within the church; 85% never invite anyone to church; 95% have never won anyone to Christ; BUT 100% expect to go to heaven.
Many people including church members make no plans, yet believe they will reach their destination on time. If we fail to plan, we plan to fail. Making plans will cause us to act rather than react.
Proverbs 17:24 says that “An intelligent person aims at wise action….” That means they have a goal, an objective, an aim, a target. On the other hand, Proverbs 17:24 also says, “a fool starts off in many directions.” That means you start off your year in a haste, going in to many different directions at one time with no plans or actions.
In one day’s time, we are going to say good bye to year 2017 and to welcome the new year in. Have you set any goals or plans for year 2018? Or are you going to be a fool starting off in many directions?
I want to make year 2018 count for my life. In order to make the new year count for our lives, there are four keys that we need in order to help us get the most out of year 2018. I call it the “ABCD TO 2018” – that is the title of my message this morning.
What are the 4 keys we should use to make the most out of year 2018? What are these ABCD?
(1) ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY LIFE
Galatians 6:5- Each person must be responsible for himself.
KJV- For every man shall bear his own burden.
Here is the truth of this scripture – I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR MY OWN LIFE, WHETHER I LIKE IT OR NOT.
This is a hard truth to accept for many people as we would rather blame someone else for the problems and difficulty in their lives. When things don’t turn out the way we hope, we love to have someone we can blame.
Accepting responsibility for one’s life is not a popular concept in our society because we live in a culture that embraces a concept called “political correctness.” This means, “None of our problems are our fault. Everything bad in our lives is somebody else’s fault. Blame the environment. Blame the educator. Blame the government. Blame our parents. Blame anybody else but IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. If we get into accident, it is never our fault. If we spill some coffee on ourselves, sue Jollibee- it is their fault. It is always somebody else’s fault.”
We will never be a success and we will never make our lives count if we have the attitude that it is someone else’s fault. We must accept responsibility for our own lives.
Illustration: King William of Pottsdam once visited a prison in England. He wanted to hear the story and offer pardon. Every prisoner brought before him claimed to be innocent and pleaded for pardon except for one man who admitted his guilt. King William said to the prison officer, “Get this guilty man out of prison before he corrupts all these innocent men!” And the man was set free.
All of us here this morning face two kinds of circumstances:
• Those circumstances which we have no control over.
E.g. No control over the weather, the economy, the companies that we work for or the words and actions of others.
We don’t know what year 2018 holds for us. There are certain things that are going to happen regardless of what we do and how we plan our year. Yet that is no excuse for not being prepared or having a plan.
• Those circumstance which we face as a result of our own choices, actions or lack of actions.
E.g. Failure to study hard and thus missing the entry to the college of your dream.
When things got tight like this, we have people blaming their family, the church or someone in the church.
While we may not be in control of all the circumstances that we will face this coming year, we do have control of how we will act and respond to them.
There are three kinds of people in this life:
They always blame everybody else for their problems. Their favorite phrase, “It is all your fault; It’s never my fault.”
Excusers are people that always have an excuse for not making a decision or doing something. There’s always why they can’t make the most or get the most of their year. In the long run they end up being the losers. The Bible says, “A lazy man is full of excuses.”
They are the ones who say, “I choose to accept responsibility for my own life, goals and happiness. I am not dependent upon somebody else. I choose the direction of my life. I am not depending upon the crowd.” If we do this, we will already be a jump ahead in 2018.
(2) BELIEVE I CAN CHANGE
Philippians 4:13 (Jerusalem Bible)- There is nothing I cannot master with the help of Christ who gives me strength.
Do you really believe in this verse? There is nothing I can’t master! That means there is nothing I am going to hit in the next 365 days, no problems, no situations, no circumstances, no hassle that I can’t handle, that I can’t manage, that I’m not competent to handle with the help and strength God gives me.
Stop saying, “I can’t” and start saying, “I can”.
Many people never succeed in life because they believe they can’t change. They never enjoy life because life to them is just one big failure after another. They face new year with regret rather than the joy of knowing that God has given them the opportunity to make a difference in their own lives with the help of the Lord Jesus Christ.
With the help and grace of God, we can overcome the past and face the future. We believe and know we can change. Not on my own power but with the power that Christ gives me.
The Bible is full of stories of people who changed because they believed they could change after God touched them.
E.g. # 1 – Moses – from an incoherent man to the greatest deliverer of Israel.
E.g. # 2 – GIDEON – from a fearful man to a man of valor.
God can use me and God can use you. The good news is God wants to use you. First you must accept responsibility for your own life and second you must believe you can change – that God can give you the power to change if you will trust Him.
(3) CLARIFY WHAT I REALLY WANT
We must decide what’s important and what’s not. God has given each of us an incredible gift called THE FREEDOM OF CHOICE. That’s one of the things that makes us like God. When God says in Genesis 1, “Let US make man in OUR own image,” that gave us the freedom of choice. This is one of the ways that we are different from animals; we have the freedom to choose between good and evil. We have the freedom to choose what we want in life.
The only way we can clarify what we really want is to make a list and decide what is most important and what is not.
Many of us don’t do this. That is why for the last two weeks of December, we gave you the trip planner. We are training YOU to clarify what you want for this coming year. We must learn to write down on a paper what is really important to us.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO ME? WHAT REALLY COUNTS? We can’t do what is important until we clarify what is important. Otherwise you are going to be pushed around by the pressures of life doing this and that and then all of a sudden, the year is over and you will be wondering, “Where did the year go?”
Most people have never made up their mind what they want out of life and if we aim at nothing, we are going to get nothing. Most people have this vague feeling of it, “I just want to be happy.” But they have never really sat down and figured out, “What is it that is going to make me happy? What does God want me to do with my life? Why am I here?” They have never written out their values.
I want to challenge you to make a list of things that are important to you – a list of things that you want to accomplish. What do you value? What do you want to change? Put it down. Then make this your prayer list. Then make plans of action that will help you accomplish your goals for this year. Then do what ever you have to – to make and get the most of this coming year. Then watch God do miracles in your life. Clarify what you really want.
We are going to have to make a decision between what is good and what is better. Between what is better and what is best. There are many that we can do but not all of them will be beneficial. Some things aren’t necessarily wrong – they are just not necessary. We don’t have time for everything. We need to clarify the two or three things that we have got to get done this year. What are the things that are really important?
May I suggest two or three things that need to be at the top of your list?
• YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD NEEDS TO BE #1.
“Most people make better plans for their next vacation than they do for their PERSONAL GROWTH.”
What are you going to do in this coming 2018 to strengthen and improve your relationship with God? How many times per week are you going to pray? Have you any plans to finish reading the whole bible by the end of 2018? What are you going to do to become more intimate with Him? You need to make your relationship with God top priority.
• YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR FAMILY
What are you going to do to build a stronger and better relationship with your family? What are you going to change about yourself that will help you to accomplish this?
• YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CHURCH AND CHURCH FAMILY.
What are you willing to do to improve the quality of your church? How involved are you willing to get to help your church accomplish the commission that God has given her? How committed are you going to be in your attendance and support to your church?
These are the three things people always say on their deathbed and wish they had given greater priority to. Very seldom do we hear anyone on the deathbed say, “I wish I had spent more time at the office, at work or building my career.”
Clarify what is important.
(4) DON’T WAIT TO BEGIN
Ecclesiastes 11:4- If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.
It was not raining when Noah built the ark.
DO IT NOW! These 3 words can change our lives. DO IT NOW! If we wait for the right condition or the right kind of circumstances we will miss out on life all together. There will never be an ideal set of circumstances to start out on. To make the most of 2018 and to accomplish the things you want to accomplish, start now. Don’t wait to begin.
We always say, “When things settle down.” Or “When things get better.” The problem is things may never settle down or get any better. That’s called LIFE! If you are out there using that as an excuse, you are never going to do it. You learn to read your bible and pray when things are unsettled and not so good. “When things settle down, I’m going to spend more time with my kids.” They will be grown and gone.
There are many people that have missed out on life waiting for the ideal set of circumstance or waiting for things to get better. While they are waiting, time just kept right on going and passed them by.
We must learn to enjoy life under circumstances that are less than perfect. Whatever you’re going to do, that which you to do, START NOW. Because things may not settle down or get better until you are in the casket.
Illustration: John Maxwell wrote a story in one of his book – A Middle Eastern mystic said, “I was a revolutionary when I was young and all my prayer to God was: “Lord, give me the energy to change the world.” As I approached middle age and realized that my life was half gone without my changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to: “Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come into contact with me, just my family and friends and I shall be satisfied.” Now that I am an old man and my days are numbered, I have begun to see how foolish I have been. My one prayer now is, “Lord, give me the grace to change myself.” If I had prayed for this right from the start, I would not have wasted my life.”
Careful planning is part of what makes a person wise and productive. Not to plan is considered foolish and dangerous. This is true even though Proverbs teach that that we do not know what the future may bring. “A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). The fact that the Lord is ultimately in control of the future does not mean we shouldn’t plan. It means we should commit our work to the Lord and trust him to establish our plans according to His loving purposes.
GOD THE PLANNER
The ULTIMATE REASON for planning is that God is a God who plans and we are created in his image to exercise dominion in the earth under his lordship.
Isaiah 46:9-10- “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will ACCOMPLISH ALL MY PURPOSE.”
Acts 2:23- “This Jesus was delivered up according TO THE DEFINITE PLAN and foreknowledge of God.”
Since God is a God who does all things according to PLAN, it befits us to approach the most important things of life with forethought and plan, not haphazardly.
JESUS THE PLANNER
Jesus had a mission to accomplish and he finished it with forethought and planning. When his mother urged him to do a miracle at the wedding at Cana, he said, “My hour is not yet come” (John 2:4). There was a planned and appointed hour for the revelation of his power. He would stay with the plan. Luke 9:51 says, “When the days grew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” He knew that the plan meant death in Jerusalem and he didn’t shrink back from the plan.
A happy and a prosperous new year will not take place just by our wishful wish. It takes conscious effort on our part and our cooperation with God to make year 2018 a better year than this year. We need to take time to plan the most important things in your life. Make planning a regular part of your life.
I urge all the heads of the various departments of Etab to plan for your respective departments. Look at our Christmas Party held on 24 December 2017. It was one of the best Christmas celebrations in our 32 years of history. Joy Lim was asked to write an article about our Christmas Party for our Etab’s website and this was what she wrote: What seemed like just a one-night event took MONTHS OF PREPARATION (PLANNING) -from the lavish Christmas tree, to the fifteen-dishes menu spread, the carefully-crafted decors, the elaborate folk dances, games, songs, special presentation, costumes and greeting.” The celebration was a big success because there was intentional and elaborate planning.
What kind of person will you be in year 2018? Will you be an accuser, an excuser, or a chooser? Will you choose to plan so that you can make the most out of 2018? Will you accept responsibility for your life? Will you believe you can change? Will you clarify what you want for year 2018 and what is important to you? Will you start right now? Will your relationship with God be on the top of your priority list? Will your family and church be at the top of that list? The choice is yours. What will it be?
The greatest missionary, Jesus, who ever lived was a planner. God is a God who does all things according to plan. And Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem because of the most loving plan ever devised.
HE PLANNED FOR OUR JOY; WE OUGHT TO PLAN FOR HIS GLORY FOR YEAR 2018!!!
PREACHED AT ETAB COMBINED SERVICE ON 31 DEC 2017