How Does it Look to You Now?

New Year’s Eve, 2013 is for some a dramatic new beginning. Whether that’s true or not, it certainly is a beginning.  Every New Year is a new beginning.  How we face that time in our lives has a lot to do with the way we will experience the joy our Lord desires for us. I have chosen an obscure passage from the Old Testament for our study this morning.  It is:

Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. (Haggai 2:3-7, ESV).

I would like you to notice the question in the middle of the third verse, “How do you see it now?” That’s the question to ask during the first few weeks of a New Year, “How does it look to you now?” Look back at the past year. It probably looks a little different than it did back at the beginning of 2013. We can look back and see all the pounds we lost and then regained. We can see the promises we broke. We can see all the hopes, dreams, disappointments, and sorrows. It is always easy to look back, isn’t it?  But, the real key to happiness is in looking forward. What do you see? Do you see clouds, or sunshine? Do you see despair, or hope? What do you see as you look forward?

Behavioral scientists have discovered that we usually see things that we are prepared to see. All this is centered in a network of nerve cells called the “Reticular Activating System.” The Reticular Activating System works like this. Once something has been brought to our attention, we have been prepared to see it, and we’ll see it virtually everywhere we go. For example, if you decide to buy a new car and you make up your mind that you are going to buy a certain brand, a certain body style, and a certain color, all of a sudden you’ll see those cars everywhere. You’ll see them on the roads, in TV advertisements, in newspapers and magazines. They’re suddenly everywhere.  They were always there, but the moment you were prepared to see them, your RAS kicked in and suddenly you saw them everywhere.

It happens in other areas of life, too. We see what we are prepared to see. If we are prepared to see doom and gloom this year that’s what we’ll see. If, on the other hand, we have prepared ourselves to see sunshine and opportunities, then that is what we are going to see.  Do you remember Flip Wilson on TV? Dressed up as Geraldine, he would say, “Honey, what you see is what you get!” Well, that may not have been exactly true as far as Geraldine went, but psychologists tell us that if we see ourselves as successful, if we see ourselves as strong and healthy, chances are good that that’s what we’ll be. On the other hand, if we see ourselves as failures, if we see ourselves as weak and sickly, chances are pretty good that that’s what we’ll be.  Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life, and that abundantly!”  This year, perhaps as never before, believe it!  Claim that wonderful promise of life today!