From The Pulpit of Tabernacle
Pass The Peas
A Sermon by Roosevelt Wright, Jr.
For the Tabernacle Baptist Church
Monroe, La. 
January 3, 1999

   SCRIPTURE: " Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed. O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come. Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away. Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple. Psalm 65:1-4 

When you have finished one year and begin a new one, what can you do for good luck in the year to come? Our society has a variety of good luck rituals. These are the things we do to bring ourselves good look. The gambler thinks blowing on the dice will bring him luck. Someone else wants to rub the hand of a "lucky" person to get some of their lucked rubbed onto themselves. There are others who wear rabbit's feet on  key chains for good luck. Some even wear dimes around their ankles. 
   Looking for luck is universal. On New Year's day it is said that a helping of  black eyed peas on the plate guarantees good luck. Many people laugh at the custom, but serve the peas anyway, just in case there's some truth in the old saying.  The African-American community celebrates Jubilee Day on January 1st. It is the day that freed slaves in rebelling states on January 1, 1863. To commemorate jubilee day Black folks eat the food of slavery: Hog Jowls, Chitterlings, Hog Maws and and Tripe. It is said that those who forget where they came from and choose not to eat the memorial meal on Jubilee Day would have bad luck and be returned to slavery.
   Depending on cultural backgrounds, different foods come with a new year: cabbage, herring, honey, sardines, and salt are seen as good luck signs in some areas of the country. The Japanese eat long noodles. The Greeks bake a special bread. In Spain, the custom is to eat 12 individual grapes in the 12 seconds leading up to the new year. Anthropologists say that eating certain foods to change one's fortune dates back to ancient Babylonia. 
    Looking for luck, even those who claim not to believe, say "pass the peas!"
    While some spend their time looking for luck by eating peas, dashing salt and killing hogs, there are others who don't count on luck, they look to God for their blessings. He was the source of the blessings in years past and will be the source of blessings in the years to come.
    Peas or no peas, God can bless those who love him!
    Peas or no peas, God delivers for the faithful who call on him!
    Peas or no peas, God continues to open doors for those who trust him!
    As Christians we are overjoyed as we face the new year. We enter it with optimism because the God we serve is all powerful. He blessed us immensely last year, and he can do the same in the year to come. The good thing about our God is he doesn't decide whether to bless us depending on whether or not we ate black eyed peas!

    This passage of scripture focuses on the children of Israel as they thanks to God for a great year and they look forward to renewed blessings in the year to come.
    This passage is written at the conclusion of a great year. The people assembled themselves and looked back at the wondrous way God blessed them in the previous year and gave thanks. Success in biblical times depended heavily upon the rains. If there were no rains, then no matter how hard they worked their efforts would be in vain. There had been prosperity. The rains had come, poured down, as it were, from heaven. 
    At the end of the season, therefore, they assembled to consider the year ahead. 
    The meaning of the passage is associated with five words all of which begin with a "P" within the first four verses.
     Praise (v1) waiteth for thee. As the people looked forward to the coming of a new season God is pictured as the future coming toward them, armed with good things. The people are pictured as standing waiting silently for the great things God was preparing, waiting to shower him with praise for his wonderful works. They did not perceive themselves as walking into an unknown in this passage. They saw God, whom they knew very well, coming toward them and they were ready to spend the year praising him for everything that comes.
    Performed (v1). As they looked to future they remembered the vows they made during the difficult times of the preceding year. They remembered the silent promises they made to God in their moments of frustration. They remembered the decision to break bad habits, tear down false altars and remain true to God. Thus, they approached the new season with a renewed commitment to keep their promises to God and to live up to their various pledges.
    Prayer. (v2) They looked to the new season with a resolve to be prayerful. Their united voice said, "thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come." They looked into the unknown with assurance that no matter what it brings, that talking to God could enable them to face any circumstance. They resolved to enter the new season with a prayerful spirit. They believed that God heard the prayers of his people and thus they looked at the new year with courage and hope, understanding that prayer can change anything as long as God is on the throne.
   Prevailing (v3) Despite their optimism the people were aware that every new season brings with it certain inequities and iniquities. Inequities being those things that come upon us unjustly and iniquities being those things that we bring upon ourselves. The word "prevail" seems to suggest that our iniquities and faults will overpower us and be victorious at first reading. However the Hebrew  translation of the word prevail is "gabar" which means strong, mighty and powerful. It does not mean victorious as in the English. It means troubles may give believers  a hard fight as they always do, but picking a hard fight and winning a hard fight are not one and the same.
   Purge (v3). "As for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away." This answers the questions raised about what will happen to the strong inequities and iniquities that will come against believers. "Thou shalt purge them away."  The peope had no doubt there would be short comings and flaws in their collective character that would surface, but they were assured that the grace of God would purge them away. They were confident that in the new season there would be  errors, misjudgments and critical mistakes made but the people concluded that "thou shalt purge them away."
   Collectively these five "P's" demonstrated the people's attitude as they entered into a new year. It was an attitude of optimism dipped in gratitude. It was an attitude of expectation, for they looked forward to the great things that lay ahead and were waiting to give God the praise and the glory!

Three P's that Hinder Progress

   As believers look to the new season we are faced with a few "P's" in our own experience.  They represent some attitudes and feelings that will hinder us in the new season. They include:
   PROCRASTINATION: Nothing hinders progress more than procrastination. We procrastinate when we set goals and keep putting off every step necessary to achieve them. There can be no progress unless we first decide to move toward our destiny. One writer put it this way, "the best way to start realizing your dreams is to wake up!" Millions of dreams are lost each year because of procrastination. The procrastinator is the person who has the wisdom to know what to do, the skill to know how to do it, but lacks the will power to get up and do it! Surrounded by frogs, Pharaoh was given an opportunity to obey God and remove them immediately or wait. He said he would do it tomorrow! Thus he spent another night with the frogs. (Exodus 8:10). Putting things off until tomorrow is condemned in scripture. Proverbs 27:1 says, "Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." If there is a "P" we should leave behind it should be procrastination.
   PAST: Too many try to march into the future dragging the past with them. As Israel moved toward their promised land, their month long march became a 40 year journey because they tried to bring the past with them. They constantly brought up life in Egypt and God let them wander until there was no one left to bring up the past. Today there are millions who want to begin a new year but they keep dragging up Egypt. Family disputes, marital problems, financial difficulties, which caused problems in the past are dead weight if they are dragged into the future. "..forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14.
   PAIN: No year finishes without families experiencing some level of pain. Whether it is sickness, death, finances or disappointments, every person experiences some pain in his life. Yet  we should not carry the fear of pain or the memory of painful moments into the future. They have a tendency to absorb us and destroy us. Lot's wife tried to walk forward. She was  given a chance to climb the mountain but the pain of loss possessions, lost dreams and acquaintances overwhelmed her and she stopped, turned and looked back and found herself completely absorbed in the pain of the moment and she was turned into a pillar of salt. Has there been a painful moment in your life in the past year? Carry the happy days into the new year, leave the pain behind! His there been a bitter experience? Leave it behind or it will drag you down. Psalm 55:22 says, "Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved."

Pass the Peas

   Finally, as we consider the new year we must do as the children of Israel in Psalm 65. We must focus on the P's. 
   Like Israel we stand on the threshold of a brand new season. When we look back over the year that has passed we recognize that we've had some good days and we've had some bad days, but the Lord has showered down blessings on us that cannot be measured.
   We need to approach the new year with some new P's. Not the pain, procrastination and focusing on the past that we have done in other times, but we need some new P's.
   We need a positive attitude for the new year! This is the attitude that says nothing will stop me from achieving my goals, because "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me"
   When Israel assembled itself at the beginning of the new season, the people looked back over the road they traveled but they looked forward with expectation of even greater things from God.
    They didn't focus the negative "P's" that would be out there: Problems, Prevarications, Perplexities, Pundits, and Power Hungry Pontificators. 
    They were not consumed by the pale painted pictures of the prophets of doom.  Neither were they overwhelmed by the precise but profrane  presentations of pagan prognosticators.
    They were not influenced at all by any negative feelings about the future. They simply kept their eyes on the P's. They came together at the first of new season and talked about five P's that would bring them blessings. 
     Not black eyed peas!
     Not purple hulled peas!
     Not English Peas!
     But five words that defined their expectations. Those same five words should guide every believer today.
     They talked about the "P" of performance. If we do what God wants us to do. If we go where he wants us to go; there is blessing coming our way. Can't you hear him saying in John 15:7 "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
     They talked about the "P" of prayer. We know that God is a prayer answering God. If you call on the Lord he will answer, bye and bye! There is power in prayer! There is strength in prayer! Prayer changes things!
     They talked about the "P's of prevailing over  temptation! Temptations come and temptation's go, but it doesn't matter what comes because the Lord won't allow those who trust him to be overtaken. Didn't the word say, in 1 Corinthians 10:13  "but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will, with the temptation, also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." The Lord will make a way!
     The fourth "P" was praise. They praised God before the year began for what was going to do!
In essence they offered praise in January for February! They offered praise on the first Sunday in January for what would happen on the last Sunday in December.
    We should praise the Lord because his:
    Grace is always sufficient; Love is always abundant
    Mercy is everlasting and; promises are sure!
   We should praise the Lord for the burden he's going to lift off our shoulder!
    We should praise the Lord for the hill he's going to help us to climb!
    We should praise the Lord for the bills he's going to help us to pay!
    We should praise the Lord for the job he's going to help us to find!
    We should praise the Lord for the home he's going to help us to buy!
     We should praise the Lord for the old man who's going finally start acting like a husband!
     We should praise the Lord for old lady lady who will finally want to become a wife!
     For everything that God going to do, we ought to praise the Lord!
     Come here Hebrew boys, bring me that "P"-They were in the fiery furnace God protected them! He will protect you and he will keep you. Psalm 27:5 says, "For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock."
     Come here widow woman, bring me that "P"-She was down to her last cup of meal and oil and God "Provided" for her every need.
     Come here Paul, what did you tell the Philippians? "But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus!"
      The last "P" was the "P" for purged. Even though the Lord blessed us last year. We ought to be glad that our sins didn't follow us over into the new year, for they have been purged and made pure.
     What can wash away my sin? What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! Oh precious is the flow that makes me white as snow, no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus!
      Jesus, the prized son of Palestine
      Jesus, the epitome of perfection
      Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace
      Jesus died out on Calvary, but Early Sunday morning ...
      He arose from the grave with all power in his hands!