Proverbs 17:24 (The Good News Version) “An intelligent person aims at wise actions, but a fool starts off in many directions.”

Can you believe that this year is over? It seems that with each passing year time just speeds up. It seems that only yesterday we were worried about the Y2K bug. We made it through Y2K and now we are faced with another New Year. We all can do the one of two things this year:

We can waste it away by sitting around and worrying about the things we failed to accomplish last year, or the mistakes we made throughout the year. We can sit around and mope or have a pity party because things didn’t go the way we wanted them to. OR

We can decide to make the most of this New Year that God as granted us. This could be the greatest year of your you have had up to this point, if you make a conscience decision to do whatever it takes to have a great year.

The point I want to get across is, whatever we’re going to do with our lives this year, we had better get on the move because time is moving on. Time is not going to sit still until we can make up our mind about what we are going to do. One other point that I want to make is, if we’re not doing something with our lives it really doesn’t matter how long the year is or how much time we have left in the year.

So what are you going to do with 2018? How will this year be any different than last year? How many of you would like 2018 to be better than 2017? Last year was a tough year. It was a year of challenges, a year of choices. It was a year of changes. It was a year of some crises. The fact is for some of you the year 2017 was more of a disappointment than a joy. Some of you may have experienced a loss of some kind. For some of you it may have been a year of setbacks and failures.

The bad news is there is nothing we can do to change last year. The good news is we can learn from last year and today we have the opportunity to start over and make some changes. God brings life to us in small pieces that we know as hours, days and months. At the beginning of every year He says, let’s wipe the slate clean and let’s start with a brand new year. It’s like God is saying, “Let’s start over.” And that’s good news.

Proverbs 17:24 (The Good News Version) “An intelligent person aims at wise actions, but a fool starts off in many directions.”

For many the last part of that verse describes them. It says, “A fool starts off in many directions.” Does that describe any of you? You start your year off in haste going in to many different directions at one time with no plan of action.

Then notice the words at the beginning of this verse: it says, “An Intelligent person aims at wise actions”. That means they have a goal, an objective, an aim, a target. Have you set any goals for 2020? Or are you just going to walk into this year and hope it’s better? You’ve got to have a plan.

This morning I want to share with you four keys that will help all of us get the most out of the year 2020. Keys can be used to start something or used to open doors. It is my prayer that these for keys will start you off on the right foot in the right direction. It is also my prayer that you will use these keys to open the doors of opportunity that God places before you. I will label these keys A, B, C and D.

A – Accept responsibility for my life.

This is something that is hard for many people to do. Some people would rather blame someone else for the problems and difficulty in their lives. These are people that go around looking for someone who will accept responsibility for them. Someone who will accept responsibility for the way they live their lives and the choice they make. When things don’t turn out the way the hope, they have someone they can blame.

Accepting responsibility for one’s life is not popular concept in our society, because we live in a culture that embraces a concept called “political correctness”. This basically says, “None of your problems are your fault. Everything bad in your life is somebody else fault. Blame the environment. Blame the educator. Blame your parents. Blame anybody else, but it’s not your fault.” If you get in an accident, it’s never your fault. If you spill some hot coffee on yourself, sue McDonalds; it’s their fault. It’s always somebody else fault. We will never be a success in life and we will never make our lives count if we have the attitude that it’s someone else fault. We must accept responsibility for our own lives.

Galatians 6:5 “Each person must be responsible for himself.”

The King James Version says, “For every man shall bear his own burden.”

Here is the truth of this scripture. I am responsible for my own life, if I like it or not. All of us here this morning face two kinds of circumstances.

Those circumstances which we have no control over. None of us here this morning knows what we will face throughout this coming year. There are certain things that are going to happen regardless of what you do and how you plan your year. That is no excuse for not being prepared or having a plan. (Example of some things that we have no control over: We have no control over the weather, the economy, the companies that we work for, or the words and action of others.)

There are some circumstances that we face as a result of my own choices, actions or lack of actions. (Example: I’ve known people that have had financial problems because they quit their job and didn’t have another job to go to. The reason they quit their job is because they didn’t like it or someone made them mad. Then when things got tight, money and food was low, these people blamed their family, the church or someone in the church because their family, the church or someone in the church refused to accept the responsibility for the decisions and actions of those people. What they really wanted was someone to accept responsibility for their lives and bail them out of trouble. There are people like that in the world. I am not talking about someone who through no fault of his or her own fell on hard times. I’m talking about someone that did something without considering the consequences of his or her actions and how these actions would affect others around them.

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.

We need to understand that there are three kinds of people in life.

  • There are accusers.
  • There are excusers.
  • There are choosers.

There are accusers. They always blame everybody else for their problems. Their favorite phrase is, “It’s all your fault.” It’s never my fault. It’s someone else’s fault.

There are the excusers. Excusers are people that always have an excuse for not making a decision or doing something. There’s always a reason why they can’t make the most or get the most out of their year. In the long run they end up being the losers. I’ve discovered that whenever I want to procrastinate on something, any excuse will do. The Bible says, “A lazy man is full of excuses.”

There are the choosers, they say, “I choose to accept responsibility for my own life, goals and happiness. I’m not dependent upon somebody else. I choose the direction of my life.” I’m not depending upon the crowd. If we do this, we will already be a jump ahead in 2018.

B – Believe I can change

Stop saying, “I can’t” and start saying, “I can”. The person that believes that they can change with the help of God will 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 that verse? There’s nothing I can’t master! That means there’s nothing I’m going to hit in the next 365 days, no problem, no situation, no circumstance, 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.

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 a 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.

I believe I have discovered why there are so many New Year parties were people get so drunk they can’t see straight. They get drunk to forget the past year and because they are afraid to face the New Year.

With the help and grace of God I can overcome the past and face the future. I have new handle own life for this coming year. I believe and know I 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 that they could change after God touched them.

God called a man named Moses: “I want to use you to save a nation.” Moses said, “Me? I got kicked out of Egypt because I killed a guy. I’m a murderer. Now I’m out here feeding sheep. And on top of that, I stutter! I’m slow of speech. You want me to be the spokesman for a nation?” God said, “Yes. I’m going to use you.”

God another man named Gideon, when the nation of Israel was overrun by the enemy: “I’m going to use you, Gideon, to save the country.” Gideon said, “Me? I am the youngest kid in the poorest family in the smallest tribe in the nation.” God said, “Yes. I’m going to use you.

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’ll trust Him.

C – Clarify what I really want

You must decide what’s important and what’s not important. God has given each of us an incredible gift called the freedom to choose, 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 can clarify what we really want is to make a list and decide what is important and what is not.

It’s amazing most people never do this. They never stop and think through and write down on paper what’s really important to them. Maybe some of you have never done this. You’ve never written down the things that are important to you. You must ask yourself,

“What’s important to me?” What really counts? We can’t do what’s important until we clarify what’s important. Otherwise you’re going to be pushed around by the pressures of life doing this and that then all of a sudden the year is over and you’re saying, “Where did the year go?”

Your values determine your vision. Your desires determine your direction. Your roles determine your goals.

Most people have never made up their mind what they want out of life and if you aim at nothing, you’re going to hit it. Most people have this vague feeling of, “I just want to be happy.” But they’ve never really sat down and figured out what is it that’s going to make me happy? What does God want me to do with my life? Why am I here? They’ve never written out their values.

I want to challenge each of you to, make a list of things that are important to you, a list of things that you want to accomplish. What do I value? What do I want to change? Put it down. Then make this your prayer list. Pin it up on a wall and review it every day and pray about it Then make a plan of action that will help you accomplish your goals for this year. Then do whatever 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.

There are some things in life that we will do that are permissible but may not be necessarily to our advantage. There will be some things that all of us will do this year that will not benefit us at all.

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’re just not necessary. We don’t have time for everything. We need to clarify the two or three things that we’ve 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. What are you going to do this year to strengthen and improve your relationship with God? 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 it? How committed are you going to be in your attendance and support to your church?

These are the three things that I have heard people on their deathbed, wish they had given greater priority to. I have never heard anyone say, “I wish I had spent more time at the office, at work or building my career.

Clarify what’s important.

D – Don’t wait to begin.

Do it now! These three words can change your life. Do it now. If you and I wait for the right situation or the right kind of circumstances we will miss out on life all together. There will never be an ideal set of circumstance to start out on. To make the most of 2001 and to accomplish the things you want to accomplish, start now. Don’t wait to begin.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”

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’re out there using that as an excuse, “ When things settle down or get better, I’m going to start having a daily quiet time and read my Bible every day,” you’re 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’ll be grown and gone!

There are a lot of people that have missed out on life waiting for the ideal set of circumstance or waiting for things to get better. While they were 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 want to do, start now! Because things may not settle down or get better until you’re in the coffin.

Some of you are saying to yourself, “I’m going to make the most of this New Year. I am going to set some goals and accomplish them. Right now you are being motivated, you are pumped up to make the most of this year. However when you walk out the door there will be no one to motivate you or to encourage you. You have to determine right now that it doesn’t matter what happens or what comes your way, this is going to the best year yet. Then with each passing year, continue to improve the quality of your life with the help and grace of God

I want to share with you a story that I read in John Maxwell’s book, “Developing the Leader within You.”

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.’

Conclusion: What kind of person will you be this year? Will you be an accuser, an excuse, or a chooser? Will you choose to make the most of 2018? Will you accept responsibility for your life? Will you believe you can change? Will you clarify what you want this year 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?

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