“You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance”. (Psalm 65:11 NLT)
What a powerful verse!!
As the year comes to an end, you may be going through much reflection as to what happened in the past 12 months. Some will have testimonies, others will remember challenges, while some others may think of the health issues they had to face. Some would say, ‘It was my best year’, while others may say, ‘it could have been better’. The list can go on! While preparing this message, here are some old memories that went through my mind.
• I remembered a year when I ended up in hospital on January 2nd, due to a severe asthmatic condition
• I remembered the year that the British Royal family went through much turmoil concluding with Queen Elizabeth calling it a horrible year.
• I also vividly remembered December 26th, 2004, when the horrible Tsunami devastated the coastline of my lovely country, Sri Lanka.
• I also remembered the end of one particularly disappointing year when Johnny Logan’s song “What’s Another Year?’, seemed to be a good anthem for me for the new year!!!
• And of course, I remembered the year which I entered as a Born-again son of God, thanks to the amazing saving grace of Jesus!!
Psalm 65 is considered a National Psalm of praise and thanks to God for His goodness. It was apparently sung after the spring rains came in to water and refresh the earth. This song was even more meaningful if the Nation had been through a particularly bad dry season.
PROPOSITION – God’s favor is upon the New Year.
Let’s now look at the words of Psalm 65:11 from which I would like to share 3 thoughts about God’s favor for the New Year. They are;
1) GOD PLACES A CROWN OF FAVOR ON THE YEAR
A crown is a special and glittering insignia worn by Kings, Queens, Emperors & other royalty. At sporting events in Biblical times, sometimes a crown or something that resembled it, was given to the winners, while in present-day beauty contests too, the winner is given a crown. We also crown people with titles like King of Rock and Roll (Elvis Presley), and King of Pop (Michael Jackson). I recently read an article where the New Zealand cricketer Kane Williamson was called “King Williamson’, after a phenomenal year with his cricketing skills. But mostly, crowns are identified with royalty. Of course, we know only too well that human crowns fall off after a season.
The Bible identifies God’s people as a Royal Priesthood, crowned by God Himself! Psalm 65:11 as we already read, says that ‘God crowns the year’. Yes, His grace will crown every day we face in the coming year, with its challenges!!
Let’s look at some of the crowns mentioned in the Bible. In 2 Timothy 4:8, Paul, possibly remembering the then famous Isthmian Games, speaks about a ‘crown of righteousness’, while in James 1:12, we read about the ‘crown of life’. Isaiah 61:3 talks about a ‘crown of beauty’ and 1 Corinthians 9:25, reminds us about an ‘eternal crown’. Peter, in his first epistle tells us about a ‘crown of glory’ (1 Peter 5:4) and Isaiah 51:11 says ‘everlasting joy will crown their (believers) heads’.
Let’s now look at the ‘crown’ Psalm 65:11 is talking about.
2) THE CROWN OF FAVOR GOD GIVES IS A BOUNTIFUL HARVEST
The NKJV translates it as ‘His Goodness’.
Many countries and even the United Nations name each year with some form of identification or plan of action. We therefore hear of the ‘year of the cat’, ‘the year of the moon’, ‘the year of children’, ‘the year of shelter’ etc. In case you didn’t know it, 2015 was termed ‘The International Year of Light and Light Technology’. My prayer for you however is that the coming year will be one in which God will give you a ‘bountiful harvest’. As we prepare to step in to a new year, what a comfort it is to know that His ‘Goodness’ is upon us. So, let’s look at some of the acts of God’s ‘Goodness’, shown in this Psalm.
• He answers our prayers (vs 2)
• He forgives our sin (vs 3)
• He fills us with the good things of His house (vs 4)
• He answers with awesome deeds (vs 5)
• He protects us (vs 5-7)
• He does wonders (vs 8)
• He sends rain and makes the land fertile as the climax to a year of abundant blessing (9-13). This was of great importance in the agricultural setting and community in which this Psalm was written.
ILLUSTRATION – As I look back upon the past year, I can see the bountiful harvest God has given us in our ministry, besides providing for us in supernatural ways. Just 2 weeks ago I had the opportunity to preach at one of our outreach services, with over 100 newcomers present. When the altar call was given, what a joy it was to see the altars flooded with people wanting to invite Jesus into their lives. God also provided for us in every way, including the gift of a brand new car which we could not afford to buy!!
A man of God said, ‘You may lack the fastest, the finest and the latest, but you won’t lack what is needed’!!
Are you ready to prepare yourself for a ‘bountiful harvest’ through God’s ‘goodness’ in the New Year?!!
3) GOD’S FAVOR WILL BE SEEN EVEN IN THE HARD PLACES
“Even the hard pathways overflow with abundance”.
No doubt, you and I will have to face some, if not many ‘hard pathways’ in the coming year. It’s part of life. But, the Psalmist says, “Even the hard pathways overflow with abundance”. Yet again, this statement must be looked at in the agricultural setting in which it was written. God’s abundance is spoken of here, even in the most difficult moments or seasons. Let’s remind ourselves that before the Promised Land could be conquered, the Jordan had to be crossed and the walls of Jericho had to be brought down. Someone said,
‘If God takes us on stony paths, He will fix us with strong shoes’!!
This Psalm speaks about abundance, after a dry season. Maybe the past year has been a ‘dry season’ for you; for your ministry. If so, can we believe together that you will see ‘God’s abundance overflowing in the hard pathways’ in the New Year?
ILLUSTRATION – Right now, I remember 2014. It was a challenging year for us from a health perspective. First, to my dismay, I found that the Retina on my left eye had torn, which meant that I had to go through 2 surgeries in the space of 3 months. It was truly a ‘hard pathway’. After the first surgery, I received the only iPad I have ever owned because they placed a pad over my eye!!! A few months later, my wife was hospitalized with Dengue Fever which was quite scary for a few days. Thank God, He brought us through it and we saw His blessing and favor in the midst of the ‘hard pathways’.
CONCLUSION – As we prepare our hearts to see Psalm 65 fulfilled in the year ahead, let’s remember that on our part, we need to give the Lord Jesus the first place in every area of our life. Here’s something I gleaned many years ago from the ‘Assembly Lines’ section of the ‘Live’ magazine, put together by Ralph W. Harris. It was apparently taken off a church bulletin in Fiji. It said,
‘To achieve spiritual success, do not forget to give God the first hour of the day, the first day of the week, the first part of every paycheck, the first consideration in every decision, and the first place in your heart.’ – That’s a great way to start and to live through the year ahead!!
May you receive ‘God’s crown of goodness and a bountiful harvest in the new year’, and may you see ‘His abundance overflowing even in the hard pathways’. Have a blessed and Christ-filled 2016!!