Romans 8:28
What I Want This Year
(Adapted from an article by Curtis Hudson)

What do you want for Christmas?  When I was a little boy, I heard that question
a lot.  I still do but it is different now.  Then I had long lists of things that
I wanted and every time we got near a place where Santa Clause was going to be, I
would crawl up in his lap and tell him my list.

I read the story of a father who had four young daughters.  He loaded them up in
the car and took them to a local store to see Santa.  He listened as each one
crawled into Santa’s lap and answered the question, "Have you been a good girl
this year?  And what would you like for Christmas?"  Each daughter recited her
memorized list of requests.  When the last one crawled down, he headed them
toward an exit, but he heard Santa call out to him.  "What about you, Dad?  What
do want for Christmas?"  The father replied, "A small fortune."

But that question does deserve an answer.  Not so much, "What do you want for
Christmas?" as, "What do you want this year?"  Let me give you my answer.  This
is what I want this year.

    I. Faith enough to accept whatever God wills for me.

Romans 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love
God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

        A. The Bible says that God makes all things work together for the good of
            those that love Him and for His own glory.
        B. I see several potential sticking points in that verse.
            1. I see a problem.  I do not enjoy everything that is good for me.
                a. For me, this is a big sticking point for this verse.
                b. There have been many times I have missed the good of what God
                    wanted to do for me because I did not like what God was doing.
                c. The story is told of the farmer who was clearing some land. He
                    cut down trees and brush and piled them up, waiting for them
                    to dry so that he could burn them.  While checking on the
                    progress of the brush, he spied a bird building its nest in
                    it.  He reached in, grabbed the nest, ripped it apart, and
                    threw it down.  The next day, he came and saw the bird
                    building the nest again.  This happened several times until
                    finally the bird got discouraged and build its nest elsewhere.
                    In a few days, the nest was filled with eggs and a few weeks
                    after that it was filled with small birds.  At the same time,
                    the farmer set fire to the brush.  The bird did not understand
                    that the farmer was destroying his nest to preserve him and
                    his family.  The farmer was demonstrating love and mercy to
                    the bird.  I am the bird.  Sometimes the Father has to do
                    things that I don’t like, but he does them according to His
                    love and mercy for me.
            2. I see a condition.  "to them that love Him."  I must love Him.
                 a. This is not just love.  It is supreme love.  I must love God
                     more than anything else.
                 b. If I do not love Him, I will not abide His work.
                 c. Sometimes, the plan that God has for us is very difficult and
                     hard to bear.
                 d. A husband and wife were blessed to have a son born to them.
                     The child was the joy of their lives.  The father was a
                     wealthy man and the son’s earliest memories were of his
                     mother and father loving him, laughing with him, and
                     showering him with goodness.  But then the mother died.
                     Things were never the same.  The father was harder.  He
                     became more demanding. The father keep the boy in school
                     year round, was constantly having him tutored and trained,
                     in business, in finances, in philosophy…you name it.  The
                     father still spent time what time he had with the son.  He
                     was good to him, but it was never the same.  When the boy
                     was fifteen, the father died too.  At the age of 15, the
                     boy became a man.  His father had appointed a close friend
                     to advise him, but the son was in charge.  It was not until
                     he was 18 that the advisor explained what his father’s plan
                     had been.  As it turned out, the father had been diagnosed
                     with a terminal disease about the time the mother had died.
                     He knew he only a short time to prepare his son for life
                     without parents, so he established a tough schedule to train
                     his son the best he could in the time he had. The advisor
                     told the young man of the many nights the father had cried
                     and wept, not at the thought of his death, but knowing his
                     death was imminent, he could not spend all of his time with
                     his son.  To do so would have been joy to him, but it would
                     have hurt his son well being if he did so.  It was not until
                     the boy was a man that he understood his father had given
                     to him his greatest gift of love at his own expense of time.
                 e. In our case, it is not the Father whose time is limited it is
                     ours.  There so much we need to know and be careful of and
                     Satan is such a strong adversary.  Sometimes the lessons the
                     Father sends to us are difficult but it is for our own good
                     He sends them.  We must love Him enough to stick with Him
                     until the end.
                 f. The poet said it well:

My life is but a weaving,
Between my Lord and me.
I cannot choose the colors,
He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow,
And I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the underside.

Not til the loom is silent,
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas,
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful,
In the weaver’s skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver,
In the pattern He has planned.

            3. I see a second condition. "…and are the called according to His
                purpose."  I must be surrendered to His purpose.
                a. I am afraid that this promise is directed to specific kind of
                    Christian, one who is dedicated to the purposes of God.
                b. If you are not dedicated, I know of no promise in all the Bible
                    that says all things will work together for your good.
                    (1) Some think that one exists, but I have not found it.
                    (2) Christian, you can live for self if you wish, but when
                         hard things, bad things, difficult things start to
                         occur in your life, you are on your own.
                c. What I want is faith to stay anchored to God’s purposes.
                d. What are those purposes?
                    (1) To bring Him glory.
                    (2) To teach/preach the Bible.
                    (3) To witness to the lost.
                    (4) To live holy, pure, gracious lives.

   II. I want gratitude enough to thank God for His mercy and blessings.

Psalm 103:1  Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy
2  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

Psalm 68:19  Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the
God of our salvation. Selah.

Lamentations 3:22  It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because
his compassions fail not.

\\#Luke 17:11-19\\ The story is given of Jesus healing ten lepers but only one
coming back to give thanks.

        A. It would be good for us to take inventory tonight and be thankful.
            1. Many times, we are so busy complaining about what is wrong with
                our  lives that we don’t see what is right in it.
                a. Mother complains about children being under foot.  One day,
                    they will be gone, and you will be wanting them back.
                b. We like to complain about having to go to work.  What if you
                    did not have that job?  Some have been out of work for going
                    on five years.  Some of them would love to have your job!
            2. I often think that we spend so much time telling God what He needs
                to give us that we do not think about what He has already given!
            3. A preacher told the story of a man who had grown dissatisfied with
                his home so he called a realtor to put it up for sale.  The
                realtor wanted to get an ad together to show him when they meet
                so he asked the owner to describe the house.

                At first, the owner just gave the facts.  "Three bedrooms, 2
                baths, brick exterior…."  But before long, he was describing
                more.  "We got those pear trees producing two years ago.  It took
                five years of bringing water to them.  And my wife’s rose bushes
                bloomed the best they ever have last year."

                When he finished, the realtor said, "Let me read what I have.  It
                is a three bedroom, two bath, brick house, with the perfect shade,
                the best peaches you ever had, and the most beautiful roses in the
                county—and you don’t really want to sell that house, do you?"

                The owner thought a minute.  He had forgotten just how much he
                loved that house until he started trying to describe it.  "No,"
                he said, "Not for any amount of money."

       B. Did you know that the sin of ingratitude can lead to other sins?

Romans 1:21  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God,
neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish
heart was darkened.

            1. The remainder of that chapter goes on to describe just how wicked
                man can become, but this verse is one of the verses that describes
                what starts the spiral downward.
            2. Right there, it says, "when they knew… neither were thankful…."
            3. One of the causes of anger, bitterness, pettiness, lust,
                deceitfulness, thief, worshipping things rather than the Creator,
                vile affections, not retaining God in your knowledge, and other
                sins is not being grateful for the things that God has done.
        C. Friend, take inventory.
            1. How thankful are you for your eyesight?  Try closing them for a
                day and see how you like it.
            2. How thankful are you for hearing?  Plug your ears for awhile and
                see what you miss.
            3. For your family, for you job, for your friends, for you family….
            4. Hey, Mister Smith!  It really is a wonderful life!

  III. I want enough wisdom to accomplish God’s purpose for my life.

Col 4:5  Walk in wisdom….

Jas 1:5  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men
liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

        A. The only hope for a carnal man is to be endowed with wisdom.
            1. Several years ago, I spend months studying through Proverbs.
                a. I wanted to create a database or concordance of the proverbs.
                b. I read through every proverb, then I took the major words of
                    each verse and the major thoughts and created a database.
                c. With it, I can type in a thought or a word and find a proverb
                    —if there is one—that might help with that subject.
            2. You know what I discovered?  I discovered that wisdom is the most
                important attribute a carnal man can have.
            3. Wisdom alone is not perfect.  Solomon had wisdom and still behaved
                very foolishly, but a carnal man stands a much better change with
                wisdom than he does without it.
        B. The Bible describes wisdom as the most valuable of commodities.

Proverbs 2:10  When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant
unto thy soul;
11  Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:

Proverbs 3:13  Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth
14  For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the
gain thereof than fine gold.
15  She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are
not to be compared unto her.
16  Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.
17  Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
18  She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one
that retaineth her.

        C. I would ask of God to give me enough wisdom to accomplish His purpose
            for creating me.
            1. If I can be doing that, I believe I will be happy.  Happy is
                dependent upon circumstances but I believe I would be happy if I
                were doing what God created me to do.
            2. If I can be doing that, I believe I will feel satisfied, fulfilled.
                Too many are going through middle-aged crisis—and some are just
                in their twenties.  I want to feel that my life has a purpose
                every day of it.
            3. If I can be doing that, I know I will be doing what God wants.
            4. If I can be doing that, I know I will be welcomed and rewarded by
                my God.
        D. God give me wisdom enough to keep my eyes on the prize.
            A man had a difficult job.  He was the conductor who collected the
            tickets to ride the train.  He stood in the doorway of the car and
            collected everyone’s tickets as they boarded.  One man, a business
            man, stepped up, searched for his ticket, and realized he had lost it.

            "Listen," he explained, "I bought the ticket, but I have lost is
             somehow. It is urgent that I get on this train.  I have a meeting
             at the end of the line."

             "Sir," the conductor answered. "I cannot let you board the train
              without a ticket."

             "But I bought a ticket!" the man answered loudly.  "I just lost it."

             "I’m sorry," the conductor answered. "You cannot board the train
              without a ticket."

             The business man grew angry.  He yelled, screamed, cursed. But to
             everything he said, the conductor replied, "I cannot let you board
             the train without a ticket."

             Finally, the authorities had to come to take the business man away.
             The next man stepped up and handed his ticket to the conductor.  As
             he did, he remarked, "You are not a very popular man today, are you?"

             The conductor point to a man in a glass booth and said, "As long as
             he is satisfied, that is all that counts."
        E. I want enough wisdom to accomplish God’s purpose for my life.

   IV. I want grace enough to be sweet under all conditions.
        A. We are living in a world that often brings out the worst in us.
            1. However, I suppose that has been true of every generation that has
                the walked the planet.
            2. People are often rude, unthinking, selfish, greedy, heartless,
                hard, and harsh.
            3. May that not be us.
        B. Our carnality comes out in the most horrific ways.
            1. Mine might come out in my temper.
                a. I have spoken often to you of my short-temper over the years.
                b. Thankfully, God has given me a lot of grace.
                c. Most of you have never seen it, and I pray that you never
                4. By God’s grace, I saw a need years ago to work to bring that
                    behemoth under control.  I would slay it if I could be in
                    truth it is too much a part of me.
            2. Yours might come out with bitterness, jealousy, whatever.
        C. We must work to keep a sweet attitude.
            1. We must be sweet when dealing with ineptness.
            2. We must be sweet when dealing with heartache.
            3. We must be sweet when dealing with disappointment.
            4. We must be sweet when dealing with betrayal.
            5. We must be sweet when dealing with lies.
            6. We must be sweet when dealing with frustration.
            7. We must be sweet.
        D. A popular preacher once told how a man had lied about him, making the
            lie very public.  He said it was his nature to go and beat the
            daylights out of the man, but he prayed and asked God to give him a
            gracious spirit instead.
        E. Again, I speak of myself.
            1. I do work to keep my temper under control.
            2. I try to prepare myself in advance when talking to certain
            3. I like to have Kathy around to listen with the hope that if I start
                to get angry she will give me a warning.
            4. I try not to do things that frustrate me when I am exceedingly
            5. The one concern I have is with age.  I have seen some who seem to
                be more bitter and angry as they grow older.  I have comforted
                myself that they were probably just as bitter and angry when they
                were young, but I do wonder.  If my mind leaves me, will I say
                something, do something that would bring dishonor to my Lord?
            6. Charles II said to those gathered around his deathbed, "You’ll
                pardon any little lapses, Gentlemen.  I have never done this
            7. I pray that God will give me grace to be sweet in all conditions.

That is what I want this year.  What do you want?

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