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Christian Apologetics toward Islam and Missions to Muslims

Advice for Starting a New Year

Tomorrow is the last day of 2016. Some of you may be thinking you are glad the year is over because it was a terrible year. I want to share some thoughts and encourage you as enter into the new year, 2017.

I am reminded of what Charles Spurgeon said.

No matter your Past — Your Future is Spotless

No matter how many mistakes you have made, no matter how terrible things have been for you, those things are yesterday. They are in the past and there is nothing you can do to change them. You do have a choice on how you react to them, and how you move forward. You either make your failures determine your future and remain a failure, or you make them learning experiences and steppingstones to a better future. Instead of getting bitter, choose to get better.

We all make mistakes, and we all go through valleys, but I have found that God goes with us through the valley, and if we hold on, there will be a mountain top experience before too long. Every storm always has a school. I find that if I don’t learn the lesson, God will have to teach it to me again.

I want to encourage you to look up. Put your past in the past and look forward.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

Someone said if you look after the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves. If we look after the minutes, the hours, days, weeks, and years, will look after themselves.

Every day is a new gift from God. There are 1440 minutes in each day. My uncle used to say:

if we are going to kill time, let’s just work it to death.

This has been my philosophy. We do need time for relaxation, it is not all work, work, work, but let’s not waste the time God has given us.

To number our days means to take stock of them. We are to be stewards of the time that God gives us. We are to use it to bring glory to Him. We should look forward to the opportunities it will afford  us. If 2016 was a rotten year, let’s change our attitude, and look forward to 2017.

I am reminded of a story of a young private travelling by train with a sergeant after WWII. Sitting in same compartment was a pretty girl with her mother. He was enjoying the trip because of this pretty girl. He knew that an opportunity was going to be presented because there was a dark, long tunnel ahead. When they entered the tunnel, you heard the following three sounds. Kiss / Smack / Ouch! When they came out of the tunnel, each of the four had different thoughts. The mother was thinking, the brashness of the private for kissing her daughter and she was glad she slapped him, he deserved it. The girl was thinking, I’m glad he kissed me, but I wish my mother hand’t slapped him. The sergeant was thinking, I can’t blame the lad, but I wish she hadn’t missed and slapped me. Finally, the  private was thinking, what an opportunity, I got to kiss the girl and slap my sergeant.

This is not exactly what I want you to think about when I talk about opportunities, but when we are expecting them, they will come.

I want to share some Scriptures with you.

Rejoice in the Lord alway: [and] again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord [is] at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9)

This is wonderful advice from God. This tells us how we, as Christians, ought to be thinking. We are to keep our minds fixed on these things.

I find that our attitude makes a big difference in how things go in our lives. Many times we live below our potential. God desires that we live abundant lives. We are not to live under the circumstances, but above them.

Our thinking determines whether we get bitter or better. Listen to what Paul said in Romans 12:

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)

How we think, and how we approach the issues of live is very important. When I was young I wanted to be a pilot. This is a dream that I have never fulfilled. I have read a lot about airplanes, and one of the most important instruments is call the AI, the Attitude Indicator.  It tells the pilot the orientation of the plane in relation to the horizon. The performance of the plane depends on the attitude of the plane.

We should all have an attitude indicator. Our attitude when we face failures and hardships has a lot to do with how we respond to them. Some people have an attitude that says, if at first you don’t succeed, erase all evidence that you tried.

Mark Twain said, if a cat sits on a hot stove, he won’t sit on a hot stove again. He also won’t sit on a cold stove either. He will have a negative attitude toward stoves.

If, when faced with hardships, our attitude says it can’t be done, it probably can’t. This is not because we can’t do it, it is because we will not give it a serious try.

I think the attitudes of many today is that things can’t get better. We look at the political situation and the sinfulness of our nation, and say that it can’t be fixed. We throw up our hands and don’t even try.

Roger Bannister taught us something very important about mankind. He was the first man to successfully run the mile in under 4 minutes. Prior to this, everyone thought it was impossible. with in a year after he broke the 4 minute mile, 6 more men did the same thing. Today at least 336 men have run the mile in under 4 minutes. The fact that Roger Bannister broke the record changed attitudes enough for others to succeed where it was once thought to be impossible.

In 1936, Johnny Weissmuller, the original Tarzan, held 50 records in swimming. By 1972, his records were the qualifying standards for the Olympics. Today 13 year old girls are breaking his records.

Let me give you one more story to show you how this works. In training fleas for a flea circus they put them in a glass aquarium and put a glass lid on it. When the fleas jump, they hit the top. After a while they realize they can’t jump past that, and then the lid can be removed and they won’t jump out because they think they can’t.

These examples show how important our attitudes are to our success. Our attitudes can, and do, limit what we are able to do.

It 2017, let’s not limit ourselves by our attitudes. God is on the throne, and you and God make a majority. God doesn’t want you to be living under the circumstances, He wants you living above them because He made you to be more than a conqueror.

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Updated: December 30, 2016 — 8:34 AM
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