Gearing Up for a Great Start

Start The New Year Rooted And Grounded In The Word Of God.

Tim Lundy
Jan 3, 2021    31m
Do you yearn to find happiness in peace as we start this new year? If so, this inspirational message teaches us that to accomplish this, we need to start the new year rooted and grounded in the Word of God. It gives us easy to understand advice and guidance in what the Word teaches us to do. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Tim Lundy: 00:00 Happy New Year, it's 2021. I don't know about you, I am glad that we have 2020 behind us. And as we think about this new year, everything in me wants to maybe make a guarantee or a promise that this will be a better year, the reality is I can't promise that.

Tim Lundy: 00:22 You know, one of the reasons I say that is, when I go back to new year's day on 2020, I distinctly remember Lea and I were talking and 2019 had been a hard year for us. We went through a lot as a family, she had cancer and surgery, we had some deaths in our family, so it was a hard year in 2019. And on new year's day, 2020, I looked at her and I said, 2220 has to be a better year. Little did I know then, all that we would face. And so that's why I'm a little wary to stand in front of you and go, Oh, 2021 is going to be a better year, the reality is we don't know.

Tim Lundy: 01:02 But I can promise you this, and I really have focused the message this weekend as we think about this new year, we can't promise it will be a better year, but I can promise you it can be a blessed year, that you can experience blessing this year. When I use that word blessed, I'm not talking like hashtag blessed, you know, when we humble brag, all the great things in my life, hashtag blessed. I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about real blessing in your life, and what are the fundamental things that you need to do if you want to experience that. It's a real practical message, some of it is kind of highlighting themes and things that we were talking about at the end of the year, but I think this is a great time to focus on it.

Tim Lundy: 01:51 Here's the first thing, if you want to be blessed this year, first thing is, you need to need to be grounded. You need to be grounded. And when I say that, I'm talking about where you're focusing your life, where you're grounding your life. Psalm 1 puts it this way, I love how the writer puts it. He says, "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night." We have this contrast, he says, you've got people who fashion their life, they live life in a way that they're always surrounding themselves with people who are sinners or scoffers or the wicked. People who fundamentally see life opposed to God, or different than the way God describes life. And he says, if surround yourself with those kinds of people, if those are the voices in your life, it has an impact on you. The person who's blessed on the other hand, is the one who is grounded, is rooted. And he talks about the law of the Lord, he's talking about the Bible, talking about scripture for him.

Tim Lundy: 03:04 Now, as I say that contrast, if you're like me, you might read those verses and you go, well, I don't surround myself with the wicked, I don't sit with scoffers, that's not the people in my life. And here's what I would just challenge you, because I looked at my own life a little bit. Maybe I don't have those physical people in my life, but how many times do I surround myself digitally with technology? When I started doing an assessment of what all I'm taking in on social media, what all I watch, what all that listen, what I hear. And I'm not talking about bad stuff per se, but it's voices and influence in my life, that can be so different from what God says. And just the preponderance of it, having all that information coming in.

Tim Lundy: 03:54 In fact, the way that we interact so much with technology is bleeding over and it impacts the way we treat people in the real world. You know, there's a book written by a Stanford Psychologist entitled, Virtually You. And in it, he was just assessing, how do we interact online, and how's it impacting us in the real world? Listen, as he describes it, he said that there's a psychological cost that we're paying for our collective love affair with technology. He says, normally when you mature, you grow by learning to delay gratification, live within a moral framework, respect other people. Maturity involves learning to control our aggressive impulses, but he says, as we keep living in this anonymous, narcissistic culture of the new social media, it's creating an everyday ordinary viciousness. Is the term that he used. See our, our technological selves are impacting our real world self. So we think we can keep them compartmentalized, and he said, the reality is you can't. It particularly stood out to me when he says society at large is becoming more angry, and more uncivil, as a result.

Tim Lundy: 05:15 Now here's, what's fascinating about this. He wrote that book 10 years ago, and he was mainly just describing the impact of the internet. This was before the explosion of social media, and the digital age, as we know it now. But notice, as he said, we're becoming, as a result of this immersion in it, more angry, and more uncivil. And you know, when I think about 2020, I don't know that I've ever seen a year where people were angrier, where the level of discourse eroded, where you could no longer disagree, that the anger back and forth, and the division over it. And I recognize we had a number of events to raise that tension, but I'm wondering how much our immersion in all of these technological, digital voices in our life, they're shaping us, they're changing us.

Tim Lundy: 06:15 Look how the Psalmist continues, he said, "The blessed man is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away." You know, they had the wheat and the chaff, and they would beat the wheat, and the chaff was that dry stock with it. And they would beat it so that the good wheat would remain, and then the chaff would blow away. And he presents this picture, he says, you've got this one person, this man or woman, that's made this choice to be rooted in living water. And because they do, they have fruit in their life. Because they do, they don't wither up. And then you've got the other side of it, this person who's impacted by all these voices, impacted by all this perspective, influenced in different ways, and their life literally dries up in a way that they just blow with the winds.

Tim Lundy: 07:15 Now the New Testament describes immaturity in the same way, that the immature person is always driven back and forth. And again, I think it's such a picture of our times, and even a picture of what we see happening in the church a lot. Of people that are driven back and forth, people that are withering in a lot of ways, people that are angry and lashing out. And I look at these verses and I go, I don't want to be like that, I want to be planted, I want to have fruit, I want to prosper, I want to be blessed this year. And in a fundamental level, if you want to experience that too, we have to make some choices of what are we putting our lives in, what's the soil of our lives that we're taking root in? Let me give you three practical ways that I want you to think about being grounded.

Tim Lundy: 08:13 One, just do an honest assessment of who and what is influencing you. Do an honest assessment, maybe an assessment of your digital intake. You know, I did a series last year entitled 'Margins', and in one of the messages I address that, how do we create digital margin in our life? I think you could probably create a direct proportion, whatever percentage you lower your digital intake, I think you'll go up that percentage in happiness this year. If you cut out 10%, I think you'll be 10% happier. If you cut out 50%, you'll be 50% happier. So what I'm doing this year at the beginning of the year, I'm starting, I want an honest assessment right now. I go, what do I need to cut out? What about taking in too much of?

Tim Lundy: 09:03 And then secondly, with that, you've got to take time every day to get rooted in the Bible. You've got to take time every day. You know, I did the series 'Gear Up', and in it I had a message where it just talked through, how do you have a Bible reading plan? How do you apply that? And one of the things we're doing together as a church this year, that we just launched it, is reading through the New Testament. We're following the Bible Project's plan that's laid out, you can see it on the website, if you go to the reading plan on the website. And we're reading through the New Testament, so it's not too much every day, but together we're reading this. And I'm doing it individually, we're doing it as a family, just so that we have a mechanism that we're getting rooted every day, we're spending time in God's Word. We're actually letting that water of life speak to us, and make us get rooted in it.

Tim Lundy: 09:57 And then as we do that, the third thing I'd say is, develop spiritual community in your home and in your friendships. See, you need all these things, you've got to assess who is speaking in my life, and what do I need to cut out? You've got to spend time, personally, every day in the Bible. And then the third part of it is, who is the spiritual community around you? I think that's one of the things that eroded in 2020, we've been so divided, we can't see people. And so as we go into 2021, how are you intentionally developing some spiritual community? Maybe you haven't been part of a life group, that's one of the best ways to develop some spiritual friendships. To get in the life group, to talk about these messages every week, to go through a study together. Maybe just read through the New Testament together, and process that. We're launching life groups here in the next couple of weeks, this is a great time to jump in, a great time for you to get involved. Maybe if you've got a student or a child, great opportunities for community. On Tuesday night, we have middle school, high school ministry, that's launching again on this campus, it was a lifeline for our students last semester. And this year we're launching Kid Venture on Wednesdays, it was going to initially launch on January 13th on Wednesday afternoons because doing it outside. Hopefully as we get further in the spring, and we can come back in the building, maybe move that time back a little bit. But I'd encourage you in all those ways, you're going to need some spiritual community around you.

Tim Lundy: 11:32 Guys, it's not rocket science, but if you're not intentional, you can let a whole year ago, and you've not been reading the word, you don't have spiritual relationships, and you get absolutely consumed by all the information you're taking in. Don't let that happen this year, be grounded.

Tim Lundy: 11:51 Here's the second way, you want to be blessed, be generous. Be generous. Generous people are blessed, it really is that simple. Jesus said it in Acts chapter 20, "And all things I've shown you.", Paul is talking, "That we need to work hard and help the weak." And then he quotes Jesus, he says, "Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” I mean, just the words of Jesus, you want the blessing of life, you want to be blessed, it's not what you're getting is a blessing, it's what you give, and generous people are blessed. So wouldn't 2021 big great year, right now, for you to intentionally think about how you're going to be generous.

Tim Lundy: 12:46 And as you think about that, I mean, there's just some fundamental parts to it, even on a practical level. You know, there's an interesting book that was written called, Happy Money, and it's the science of happier spending. It's not a Christian book per se, Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton. They walked through it, they said, you know, money can't buy you happiness, it can't buy you blessing, but how you use your money can fundamentally change your happiness and your approach to life. And in it, they kind of walk through five key things that you do with your money, that actually raises happiness, and it's proven by science. This I'll throw this in no charge, here's the five things with it. They say in it, one, buy experiences, not just things. Invariably, we buy things, a car, a house, something, and we think we're going to be happy, and the moment you buy it, your happiness starts going down. Experiences on the other hand, have more lasting impact. The second thing they said is, always make it a treat, have a treat with something. If you love chocolate bars and you have a house full of chocolate bars, you're actually not that happy with it, but if you limit it and make it a treat, you actually enjoy it more. The third thing they said is, buy time, anything you can do to buy time back, you'll always be happier and so it's worth the investment. The fourth, pay now consume later, that's the opposite of our culture. We're in the very much, get it now, and then pay later. And when you do that, when you get an item, and then you have to pay it off, you never enjoy it as much. But if you'll force yourself to pay for it, then consume it, then get it, you're always happier. Here's the fifth thing that stood out, and this is the one that really speaks to our point. They said, invariably, the number one of all of them, is when you invest in other people, when you use your money to invest in others, it's the highest happiness spike. Do you hear what they're saying? They're just echoing Jesus's words, "It's better to give than receive." The blessing that comes from there.

Tim Lundy: 15:06 So as you think about being generous this year, again, just on a practical level. First way I'd just have you consider, how are you going to be generous with your money? How are you going to be generous with your money? What and where will you give this year? As you think about it, and this is the perfect time to do it. Go ahead and just think about the whole year, and think about, okay, what am I going to give this year? Spend some time, talk to God about it, talk to your spouse, talk as a family. What do I want to give this year? And where am I going to invest that? And here's what it allow you to do, you can start approaching generosity with the first fruits mentality instead of a what's left mentality. You can go into it, so that you know that with every month, every paycheck, everything that's coming this year, here's my goal, here's what I'm going for, here's what God's called me to in that. And so right out of the gate, I give from the first fruits, instead of waiting every month and go, do I have anything left? Do I have anything I can give. I can help with the remnants that I have left.

Tim Lundy: 16:13 If you want to be blessed this year, I'd encourage you, this is a great year to be generous. Now, as I say that, I know some of you are going Tim, this is the worst year to be generous. We're coming off, and in, and continue to deal with this pandemic, it's impacting us economically, and yet, this might be the very time that you experienced some breakthrough. I remember reading Richard Stearns, he talked about in 1987, there was the worst crash of the markets since 1929, worst crash up to that point. And literally overnight, he watched, because they had a lot of resources and he had managed them well, but he said literally overnight, we lost a third of our savings and all of the money that had been set aside to send the kids to college. And he was consumed with it, he would spend his time up at night in his office, working through the numbers, working at what he could do, calling in. He kept calling in and telling him, sell more, sell more. Let's cut our losses here, which really was bad, bad plan of action at the time, he didn't know it.

Tim Lundy: 17:31 Finally, one night he was sitting in his office at home and he's grinding through the numbers and his wife walked in, she said, Richard, we need to talk. You're consumed with this, and you've got to stop, and let's just look at our life right now. We have good marriage, great kids, we've got a great home, and you have a good income, it's time to stop. And as she said it, he didn't like hearing it. He said, don't you hate it when somebody kind of spoils your pity party. Finally he looked at her and he said, no, it's my responsibility to manage this, it's my responsibility to worry about these things. And she said, all right, can we do this then, could we just stop and pray? And he said, honestly, up to that point he hadn't. And so they sat down together and they just prayed about it, prayed about the money lost, prayed about what was going on. And as soon as they said, amen, she said, I think God's calling us right now to take out the checkbook and make some large donations to our church and some ministries that we support. And he looked at her like she was crazy, except for the fact he knew she was right, he knew that's exactly what God was calling him to do. And with trepidation, they made out the checks, they sealed them, and he said, something happened at a soul level as he sealed those envelopes. He said was like this freedom came, God had broken a bondage
that literally had grabbed him up to that point, and he was able to release it in a new way.

Tim Lundy: 19:29 I don't know where you are right now, maybe unlike them, you don't even have the income coming in, so I'm not comparing everyone's situation. But I do know this, and hear me, when you're generous, when you give, it breaks bondage, it breaks those chains that can grab us. 2021 might be the year that you need to step out by faith and be generous in it, be generous in your money, be generous in your time. Be generous in your time. How will you give your time to others this year? And this is one that I kind of find myself grabbing and getting stingy, because can immediately say, I don't have enough time as is, much less give some away. And that's why I think the beginning of the year, it's a great time to look at it from my first fruits, instead of the what's left. As I think through the people in my life, as I think through the people that really matter. As I think through those, I want to serve, how will I give them time? How will I make time for it? And if I don't stop now with intentionality and calendar it out, now, it won't happen. How will you be generous with your time this year?

Tim Lundy: 20:55 Then a third category, I'd just say, will you be generous with your faith this year? Who in your life needs Jesus? And there's some people that are generous with their money, they're generous with their time, but they hoard their faith. When it comes to their belief in Jesus, they don't tell anybody about it. They're growing, they want to know more, they want to have more, they want to learn more, they want to sign up more, they want to be in church more, they want to be in activity more. We can get caught up in that, but if you ever thought about the fact, are we just hoarding it all or are we generous? Do we love people enough that we would make the time, this year, to share with them? And maybe that's verbally sharing. Maybe it's just sharing time. But I think this is a perfect time to stop right now, and maybe think in your life, who are the people in your life, you'd love if they had a relationship with Jesus.

Tim Lundy: 21:54 I mean, even as I say that, maybe you're listening to this and you don't have a relationship with Jesus, maybe you're early in this journey, you're kind of kicking the tires. Man, I'd love nothing more than 2021 be the year that you discover what we found in him, and we want to be the kind of church, and we want to be the kind of people, that we're generous with it. Not that we're forcing it on you, but we generously tell you what he's done for us.

Tim Lundy: 22:26 Man, if you want to be blessed this year, be grounded. Second one, be generous. And then the final category I'd say, is be grateful. Be grateful. And again, it really is that simple, gratitude changes the perspective on everything. It's literally one of the few things I can absolutely tell you is God's will for you this year. Why do I say that? Look at First Thessalonians chapter 5, Paul says, "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." He says, give thanks, be grateful, and then he puts this line, in all circumstances. If 2021 is the best year we've ever had, be grateful. If 2021 is harder than we can see, be grateful. It's God's will for you.

Tim Lundy: 23:25 And the more I study gratitude, I'm literally amazed by the physical impact it has on us. I think God so designed us to be grateful, that when we live it out, it impacts our health. And I'm not just saying that from a biblical perspective, I'm talking about researchers. They they've said, listen to this. Robert Emans, he's a professor and researcher. He writes out, "Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude has a lasting effect all throughout a person's life. It lowers blood pressure, it improves immune function, it facilitates more sleep. Here's the lens to that to me, gratitude has the opposite effect of stress. Stress hormones, like cortisol, are 23% lower in grateful people. It reduces the effects of aging in the brain." I mean, they keep coming out with more and more studies of just unbelievable ways that gratitude impacts us physically. And again, I'll go back to, I think it's so fundamental to how God designed us, it's supposed to be a fundamental part of our life. And because it is, when we live it out, it changes us, we're so much better for it, we're blessed. Do you want to be blessed this year? Be grateful, be grateful.

Tim Lundy: 24:57 Here's what I would encourage you to do. One, focus on what you have instead of what you want, focus on what you have instead of what you want. It really is that simple in a lot of ways, but do you can go into every day and always be thinking about what you want, what you want to do that day, what you want to have that day, what you want the day to be like. And if you flip it around and every day you go into it, all right, what do I have today? What's God given me? What do I need to look around, and just let that fill me up, instead of always looking at the gaps and what I want to have. Then the second thing with this, and this one's fundamental. All of the studies I've read, everything with it, if you don't put it into practice, you don't actually start experiencing the change of gratitude. And so start a gratitude journal, write down three things every day that you're thankful for. Literally write it down every day, it starts changing the wiring of your brain, you start feeling these physical impacts.

Tim Lundy: 26:06 And so one of the things I'm doing, you know, as I do my New Testament reading, so I've tracked through our Bible project plan, and I can do that and do my reading every day. And then I apply that soap, I taught that in the Gear Up series, where I look at it and go, here's the scripture, here's observations, things that I noticed here's application to my life. and then I have prayer. A place where I write out a little prayer. One of the things I've added to that, cause I've used that soap for years. One of the things I've added is, okay, three things I'm thankful for before I pray. Just so that I can start tracking a gratitude journal this year. Now, why am I doing that? Because I want to be blessed. I want to change my fundamental outlook on life. And I invite you to join me in that.

Tim Lundy: 26:55 And as you do that, let's look at the third thing. I just say, give thanks to God every day, tell him, don't just write it down, actually tell him, because it came from him, and we experience it from him. Guys in all of this, if you look through those three points, there's nothing in that, that is so hard. But it is amazing when you get intentional, when you look at a year, you look at some time in front of you, and you go, okay, how am I, this year, going to get grounded? And really spend some time, and let the right voices, let the living word, speak into my life and heart. How am I, this year, going to be generous, maybe stretch in ways I haven't before? How, this year, am I going to fundamentally change the way I see life and become more grateful? You know, it's never too late, and I love markers like a new year because they always give you a new start. But it takes intentionality, and I would say it takes humility for all of us to recognize where we want to grow.

Tim Lundy: 28:12 You know, I'll close with the story that John Stott tells from years ago. I love John Stott, he was a rector of All Souls in London, great leader, pastor. He wrote a book called Basic Christianity, pretty fundamental book of the faith, it came out in 1971. And when he wrote it, he received this letter. The letter said, "Dear John, thank you for writing Basic Christianity, it led me to make a new commitment of my life to Christ. I'm old now, nearly 78, but not too old to make a new beginning. I rejoice in all the grand work you're doing. Yours sincerely, Leslie Weatherhead." And here's the fascinating thing, Leslie Weatherhead was a pastor, a 78 year old pastor. He pastored a large church in London, was head of The Methodist Convention, was one of the leaders in England. But he got this little book by John Stott, and as he read it, he read it and said, you know what? I can do that, I can apply that, I can make a fresh start. And I love the humility to write a letter like that, but even more to make a commitment like that.

Tim Lundy: 29:32 What about you and me this year? What if in 2021, instead of acting like we have it all figured out, because if 2020 taught us anything, we've got a lot to learn. Instead of just assuming it's going to be a better year, because again, if 2020 taught us anything, we don't know what to expect. What if in humility, what if with some intentionality, we said, all right, I can't control this year, but I want to be blessed this year. So I'm going to get grounded. I'm going to spend some time in God's word. I'm going to be generous, I'm going to take Jesus at his word that it's more blessed to give than receive. I'm going to be grateful in all circumstances, no matter what comes, committed to being grateful as a person who experiences the blessing of God. Guys, those are my commitments, that's what I'm called to, I would love to have you join me. I'd love for you to use the resources we put on the website, whether it's the reading plan, whether it's the ministries here, anything we can do to serve you as a church. But more than anything, that together, we look to God and we seek his blessing.

Tim Lundy: 31:00 Can you pray with me? Father, I do thank you. I thank you for your new mercies. I thank you for new starts. I thank you for taking us through 2020, and I thank you for a new year in front of us. Lord, I am excited about the opportunities that comes through this, excited about your word, excited about giving this year, excited about being a grateful person. I pray that this is not just a message I preach at the beginning of the year, but this is a pattern that you've called me to live, and that we could live this together as your church. And we pray these things in Christ' name. Amen.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032