Once again, we arrived to a new 31 Dec once again. For someone like me, this is the 31st time when I approached 31 Dec. And for some of the visitors to my blog, I am sure they may  have passed by more than that. Sometimes, we only realize how fast the clock is moving until we reach the year end

Sometimes I wonder how many years doing have remaining, and when will our days end?  For this year end, I would be taking points from a sermon spoken from my church last year on 31st Dec. It reminded us to view the new year with a different perspective

Consider How Short And Fragile Life Is

David once wrote

“ Lord, make me to know my end,
   And what is the measure of my days,
   That I may know how frail I am.
    Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
   And my age is as nothing before You;
   Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. 
   Surely every man walks about like a shadow;
   Surely they busy themselves in vain;
   He heaps up riches,
   And does not know who will gather them.” – David ( Ps 39:4-6 )

Here David request the Lord to help him to see his end, and to allow him to know the measure of his days. He did it not out of a fear of illness, suffering and death.

However, he wanted the Lord to make him realise how short and fragile his life is. Indeed he describes the life of a man as handbreadths and vapor.

In the past, I like to compare life to a military rank,

0-9 : Private
10-19: Lance Corporal
20-29 : Corporal
30-39 : 3rd Sergeant

But if we were to use the fingers of our hands to represent a decade, our two hands could have effectively charted out our entire lifespan, just like the handbreadths David describes.

For me, I have used up 3 of my fingers, while some of us may have finished 1 hand. But we know, although we have 5 remaining fingers, it doesn’t necessary mean that we would live for another 50 years.

By now, I figured out what we can all appreciate our short our life is, when a year is gone, we have 1 year less. No matter how much effort we put in, we can never add an additional year to our life.

David reminded us, that our life is limited, therefore we must learn to treasure the remaining days that we have.

Have we ever asked ourselves what are we busy with?

David says that man often busy themselves  in vain, heaping up riches  and they do not know who will gather them.  Have we realized that life is more than just chasing after material possession and money?

Job once said

“For what is the hope of the hypocrite,
  Though he may gain much,
  If God takes away his life?
   Will God hear his cry
  When trouble comes upon him?
   Will he delight himself in the Almighty?
  Will he always call on God?” – Job (Job 27:8-10)

Sometimes, as we are busy gathering riches , have we ever considered what will happen on the day of calamity? Will the money and riches we gather deliver us from that?

Usually, that is the only time we wanted to seek God and to get his help, but will God still listen to us then? Many a times, it is too late for us to turn back to God when we encounter difficulties and calamities.

Making The Right Calculations In Life

The bible is full of examples of people who failed to realize this. Lk 12 talks about the Parable of the rich fool. He is a man who made lots of money in his life, having enough food to last his entire life.

He comforted himself saying he can now eat drink and be merry

Judging from his accomplishment in life, I am sure this rich man is a shrewd and intelligent man. But in all his life planning, he forgets to include God into his calculations. If God were to take his soul tonight, who would enjoy the many things that he had prepared for himself?

So the question to ask is “Have we included God into our plans in life?”

We often only calculate the things we have gain and we tend to ignore the things we have lost. Take Judas as an example (Acts 1:17-19)

Judas is a shrewd man, he knew that by betraying Jesus, he could gain 30 pieces of silver. In his mind, this is a good and profitable business transaction.

However, he had forgotten to factor in his lost,indeed he earned 30 pieces of silver, but the things he had gain cannot replace what he had lost. He lived to regret his mistakes, but that regret came in too late as we all know the end of Judas.

Have we planned with Wisdom? Have we considered what is worthy for our pursuit?  If we are wise and accurate in our calculations, we would reap rewards and benefits in our life.

Considering The Legacy Of David, His Faith In The Lord  

David continued his Ps 39 saying

“And now, Lord, what do I wait for?
  My hope is in You.
  Deliver me from all my transgressions;
  Do not make me the reproach of the foolish.” – David (Ps 39:7-8)

Are we waiting for the same thing as David? Sometimes we wait for many things, we wait for our children to grow up, we wait for a lover to appreciate and love us, we wait for pensions to be given and we wait for sermons to end.

But David waited on the Lord, he wanted God to receive him into his kingdom. David pleaded with God in Ps 17:14-15

“ Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword,
   With Your hand from men, O Lord,
   From men of the world who have their portion in this life,
   and whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure.
   They are satisfied with children,
   And leave the rest of their possession for their babes.

     As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
   I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.” –David (Ps 17:13-15)

David is a king with power and riches, God had filled his belly with good and hidden treasure. But he never allowed these to lead him away from God.

Sometimes, if we were to compare the lives of the people in the world. People seem to behave as if they will live forever, they felt that they never had enough riches and food. They forget to consider that life may end many time.

But here we read the prayer of King David. His prayer is different from many people of the world.

Indeed David had children but he never place his hope in them, in fact he choose not to leave behind too much riches for his children. Instead he choose to leave the riches to his son Solomon for the construction of the temple.

He left behind his faith for his children to follow, indeed faith is more precious than riches. If our children is given much inheritance, sometimes the riches will turn them proud and lazy. But if we leave our faith for them to follow, they will learn how to lead their lives on this earth and with that, they will never boast of their wealth or compare their riches.

Although David was a king, he never forgets his life as a shepherd boy. He remembers that he is the sheep of the Lord, and the Lord is his shepherd. Therefore he waits for his God, this made David a man after the heart of God.

If our hope is in the Lord, our priorities in life will automatically change, we would naturally be more concern about questions like, “How do we face God, will we meet God with a feeling of satisfaction or fear?

Appreciate the Time God has Given, Repent Before Him

Considering this, because we do not know how many years we have, we ought to appreciate the fact that God allowed us to continue living.

I remember earlier this year there was a elderly uncle in my church, whom I always remember to be the one who writes the sermon title  using a calligraphy pen. He was diagnosed with Cancer in September and his heath suddenly turn for the worst. God took him home in Dec 2012

There are many who never lived to see the new year, therefore, we need to appreciate why God has allowed us to continue living.

In fact, Jesus had already warn us about our own end

But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul
  will be required of you; then whose will those things
   be which you have provided?’”- Jesus (Lk 12:20)

Actually as Christians, we are aware of this fact at the back of our mind, but often, we ended up preparing for something else. Sometimes we fail to keep the words of Jesus in our own hearts

In fact, we often do prepare for mishaps that could happen in life. many of us are armed with Insurance to provide for our families if we were to encounter any mishaps. We know that the money from the claims can help our families survives if we were to encounter any mishaps.

Bearing The Fruit Of Repentance

But are we insured against the judgment seat of God?

Let us understand that God has given us time to prepare, therefore let us not squander the time in mere enjoyment. Let us not be overcome by sin. Jesus once talk about a gardener who pleaded with the master

“Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it.  And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that[a] you can cut it down.’” – Gardener (Luk 13:8-9)

Indeed, if God were to judge us by his word, we are all supposed to be cut down. For although we have did much good works, but similarly we have did many bad things we ought not to have done. 

Although we do not commit major crimes like Arson and murder, but are these the old sins in life? If God were to judge us according to everything we do, none of us can survive his judgment seat.

However God desires all men to be save, so he pleaded with God to let us be alone, to see if we can bear fruit.  If we do not seize hold of the grace given by God, and to bear fruit, we would eventually be cut down. Delayed Judgment doesn’t mean no judgment.

Many a times we mistaken the fruit written in Lk 13 as the fruit of the spirit. But we need to consider the word of Christ before the parable

For Jesus said

“Or those eighteen on whom the tower 
  in Siloam fell and killed them,
  do you think that they were worse
  sinners than all other men who dwelt
  in Jerusalem?
I tell you, no; but unless you repent 
  you will all likewise perish.” –Jesus (Lk 13:4-5)

That is when, he started speaking the parable. Therefore, the fruit that Jesus refer to is the fruit of repentance. Just as we believe in the grace and salvation of Christ, let us also believe in his judgment. For we believe in Jesus because we wanted to be saved.

Discipleship is not just about believing in Jesus, it includes a resolve to walk on the path of God, and to depart from a life of sin. For if we choose not to align our lives, and correct our path, we would perish just like the others.

John the Baptist once cautioned, using the tree as an example too.

“ Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 
   Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to 
   say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to
   you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these 
   stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore
   every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown
   into the fire.” – John The Baptist (Lk 3:7-9)

If today, John were to give us the same warning, will we take heed of it? Here John reminded them that they need to bear the fruits of repentance. It is good that we have found Christ and believed in Jesus. But if we believe and do not obey his word, then our faith would have no impact to our lives

Here John reminded the people that there is a need to have change in their lifestyle. As a Christian, we ought to share, work fairly and not intimidate people.  In order to do this, we need to have a resolve to change our lifestyle.

A Clean Heart And A Righteous Spirit

Sometimes we unknowingly turn ourselves into a brood of vipers. We became a wolf in sheep clothing. In the church, we apprear as good sheep in the fold of the Lord, but outside of Church, we behaves like wolves.

Therefore, as the year end approach, let us reconsider our ways.

We ought to pray for our own salvation, just like the prayers of David in Ps 39:8. Therefore as we approach the end of the year, let us pray like King David. Let us ask Strength from God to deliver us from evil, and to stop us from committing the same mistake.

David has an interesting perspective about repentance, let us look at the one of David’s prayer of repentance. 

“ Hide Your face from my sins,
   And blot out all my iniquities.

   Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
  Do not cast me away from Your presence,
  And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.”- David (Ps 51:9-11)

Over here, David did not just stop at asking forgiveness. More importantly, he asked God for a clean heart and a righteous spirit.  Therefore, as we review all the events that has happen in year 2012. Let us learn to ask God for a clean heart and a renewed spirit for the new year.

Having A Change Of Mind, and a Change Of Direction

Sometimes, when we review the all the events of the year, we tend to remember both good and bad events. Indeed, we cannot return to the past to fix the things that had went wrong, but the new year is a new start. It is a chance that God has given us to start anew.

Therefore, we need to to do what David does, to ask God for a clean heart and steadfast spirit. God will never cast away a broken and contrite heart.

Therefore, let us learn to make a resolve before God, to start our walk of with God once again.

The Greek Word For for Repent is “Metanoe” It covers a change of mind, and change of direction.  It is a important point for us to consider. Sometimes only by understanding our mistakes can we seize hold of the chance to make a chance and to turn our steps towards God

Of Pain and Regrets

Sometimes, as we review our lives, we will bound to encounter regrets in this year. Sometimes we regret over the things we have done, sometimes we regret over what we ought to have done.

The new year is a chance to make amends,  and to make right what we have missed. As I think about it, there are some little exhortation I would like to give to everyone

1. To the students, sometimes we only regret for not putting effort to study when we enter the exam hall. Let us resolve to work hard, and not to live with the same regret again.

2. To many others, I would like to share a saying that Chinese often use to encourage their children

树欲静而风不止                       , 子欲孝而亲不在
shù​ yù​ jìng​’ér​ fēng​ bù​ zhǐ​,     zi​ yù​ xiào ér qīn​ bù ​zài​

Translated : “Although the tree desire peace, yet the winds continue to rustle its leaves. Though the child desires to show filial piety, but alas, his parents are no longer around.” 

We often use this saying to encourage children to seize hold of the opportunity to show love to their parents.

But I would like to extend this concept to friends and relative as well. Let us not delay to show love and concern to the people around us. For we never knew when we would lose our chance.

Let us learn to treasure the time we have together.

Summary Of Points

So far I have covered the following points

1. As the year draws to a close, let us remind ourselves that life on earth is short 
     a. Let us seize hold of the chance to draw near to God
     b. Let us not love the world, for everything on earth is temporary
     c. Let us renew our hope in Christ, and look forward to his second coming

2. Whenever God gives us a new year
     a. It is a grace given to us to prepare and draw near to God
     b. Therefore, we ought to review and repent from the wrongs for this year.  
              i. Repentance Is a chance of heart, a chance of direction 
             ii. It is important to ask God for a clean heart and a righteous spirit 
            iii. We need to make a resolve not to sin again

3. As We review all the events we encounter, there will be good and bad memories
       a.The new year is a new chance to
              i. Make right what we have done wrong
             ii. Let us seize hold of the chance to renew our walk with God.

May we all be able to start a new year with a renewed person.