Happy New Year -Reflection on 2013, and anticipation of 2014

This is a time of reflection and anticipation. Reflection on the year past, and anticipation of the year to come.

But, probably the most common thing you hear about at the new year is resolutions… things you hope to change such as health, i.e. diet, exercise, eat better, spend more time with your family, read more, stop using your credit card

Now all this is good and fine, but could I challenge you to make a different type of new years resolution… spiritual resolutions? such as read my Bible more, pray more. share my faith more, invite people out to church more, to fight sinful attitudes and actions more, to talk to my kids about Jesus more

Now, Ecclesiastes 5:4,5 says, “When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it, for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.”

Can you relate to that?

See, our problem is not making resolutions, promises, vows… our problem is following through on them.

Four paths to fulfilling your resolutions:

1. Be realistic

2. Don’t be thrown-off by failures this is a common snag to progress Isaiah 43:18,19 “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Behold, I will do something new… ” Philippians 3:13,14 “… but one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on… ” — God is always ready to give us a second chance.

3. Be patient, give it time

4. Be reliant on God to bring about the change. Paul will say in Philippians 3:3 that we are not to, “… put confidence in our flesh, our own ability… ” II Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.”

Real change is possible only when we come humbly before God and cry out to Him to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Conclusion: It’s a new year, but the same God… by same I mean: predictable, unchanging, reliable, trustworthy solid, dependable, faithful, constant, loyal, etc.

Do you want to know what this “same” God has to say about this “new” year?

Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come to Me and pray to Me and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all of your heart.”

Matthew 28:20 “I am with you always even to the end of the age.”

Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Romans 8:39 “… nothing can separate us from the love of God… ”

~~~~~~~~~~
Another year is dawning,
Dear Father let it be,
In working or in waiting,
Another year with thee.

Another year of progress,
Another year of praise,
Another year of proving
Thy presence all the days.

Another year of mercies,
Of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness,
The glory of thy face.

Another year of leaning
Upon thy loving breast,
Another year of trusting,
Of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of service,
Of witness for thy love,
Another year of training
For holier work above.

Another year is dawning,
Dear Father, let it be,
On earth, or else in heaven,
Another year for thee. – Frances R. Havergal.

What God Wants You to Know

Romans 8:14-17

The Lord “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). In other words, God would like all of humanity to accept Christ as Savior. Today we will explore certain truths that the Father longs for His children to know.

• Salvation. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict us of our sinfulness and bring us to the knowledge that Jesus Christ died for our sin. When we receive the Lord as our personal Savior, we are reconciled to God and accorded full fellowship with Him. This happens the moment salvation occurs. Our sin debt is paid in full so we are free from guilt. Also, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit for eternity and set apart for God’s service.

• Identity. What is our identity in the Lord? Believers are children of God. The Bible calls us “joint heirs with Christ”—in other words, we share in the wealth of the Lord Jesus. Also, we have been transformed from sinners into saints. We may not always act saintly, but a true saint is someone who has been saved and set apart for the purposes of God.

• Position. Jesus Christ is always present to guide and provide for the believer. Through Him, we have instantaneous access to God the Father.

• Mission. Our primary mission in life is to demonstrate Christ to the world. Believers should live in such a way that others see the life of Jesus within us. And because we understand the wonder of our salvation, our identity in Christ, and our position to the Father, we share about the Savior with other people. God wants everyone to know the truth.

Count Your Many Blessings

“Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.” (Psalm 65:11)

At year’s end, a Christian should stop to count his blessings. If he does this fairly and fully, no matter what his problems may have been during the year, he will have to confess that God, as always, has crowned the year with goodness.

The coronation figure is frequently used in Scripture to speak of God’s blessings in the Christian life. For example: “Bless the LORD . . . Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies” (Psalm 103:2, 4). Even our testings and trials are always in the context of God’s grace and love. Christ Himself wore a crown of thorns so that we may be crowned with mercy and salvation.

Consider also Psalm 5:12: “For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favor wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” The word “compass” is the same Hebrew word as “crown,” with the basic meaning “encircle.” Other jewels in the believer’s year-end crown are God’s grace and glory. “[Wisdom] shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee” (Proverbs 4:9).

Then there is the wonderful testimony that “thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5). Finally, the believer’s crown is none other than the Lord Himself: “In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people” (Isaiah 28:5).

Most Christians have an abundance of material blessings for which to thank the Lord. Even if they have none of these, however, God has crowned the year with goodness and favor, with lovingkindness and tender mercies, with grace and glory and honor and, best of all, with His own presence. “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2). HMM

Yesterday Tomorrow Today

You shall not go out with haste, . . . for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard —Isaiah 52:12

Security from Yesterday. “. . . God requires an account of what is past” (Ecclesiastes 3:15). At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise when we remember our yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of God’s grace tends to be lessened by the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future. God reminds us of the past to protect us from a very shallow security in the present.

Security for Tomorrow. “. . . the Lord will go before you . . . .” This is a gracious revelation— that God will send His forces out where we have failed to do so. He will keep watch so that we will not be tripped up again by the same failures, as would undoubtedly happen if He were not our “rear guard.” And God’s hand reaches back to the past, settling all the claims against our conscience.

Security for Today. “You shall not go out with haste . . . .” As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, forgetful delight, nor with the quickness of impulsive thoughtlessness. But let us go out with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us. It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ.

Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.

By Oswald Chambers

The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” Jeremiah 8:20

Not saved! Dear reader, is this your mournful plight? Warned of the judgment to come, bidden to escape for your life, and yet at this moment not saved! You know the way of salvation, you read it in the Bible, you hear it from the pulpit, it is explained to you by friends, and yet you neglect it, and therefore you are not saved. You will be without excuse when the Lord shall judge the quick and dead. The Holy Spirit has given more or less of blessing upon the word which has been preached in your hearing, and times of refreshing have come from the divine presence, and yet you are without Christ.

All these hopeful seasons have come and gone—your summer and your harvest have past—and yet you are not saved. Years have followed one another into eternity, and your last year will soon be here: youth has gone, manhood is going, and yet you are not saved. Let me ask you—will you ever be saved? Is there any likelihood of it? Already the most propitious seasons have left you unsaved; will other occasions alter your condition? Means have failed with you—the best of means, used perseveringly and with the utmost affection—what more can be done for you? Affliction and prosperity have alike failed to impress you; tears and prayers and sermons have been wasted on your barren heart. Are not the probabilities dead against your ever being saved? Is it not more than likely that you will abide as you are till death for ever bars the door of hope? Do you recoil from the supposition? Yet it is a most reasonable one: he who is not washed in so many waters will in all probability go filthy to his end. The convenient time never has come, why should it ever come? It is logical to fear that it never will arrive, and that Felix like, you will find no convenient season till you are in hell. O bethink you of what that hell is, and of the dread probability that you will soon be cast into it!

Reader, suppose you should die unsaved, your doom no words can picture. Write out your dread estate in tears and blood, talk of it with groans and gnashing of teeth: you will be punished with everlasting destruction from the glory of the Lord, and from the glory of His power. A brother’s voice would fain startle you into earnestness. O be wise, be wise in time, and ere another year begins, believe in Jesus, who is able to save to the uttermost. Consecrate these last hours to lonely thought, and if deep repentance be bred in you, it will be well; and if it lead to a humble faith in Jesus, it will be best of all. O see to it that this year pass not away, and you an unforgiven spirit. Let not the new year’s midnight peals sound upon a joyless spirit! Now, NOW, NOW believe, and live.

“Escape for thy life;
Look not behind thee,
Neither stay thou in all the plain;
Escape to the mountain,
Lest thou be consumed.”

If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.” John 7:37

Patience had her perfect work in the Lord Jesus, and until the last day of the feast He pleaded with the Jews, even as on this last day of the year He pleads with us, and waits to be gracious to us. Admirable indeed is the longsuffering of the Saviour in bearing with some of us year after year, notwithstanding our provocations, rebellions, and resistance of His Holy Spirit. Wonder of wonders that we are still in the land of mercy!

Pity expressed herself most plainly, for Jesus cried, which implies not only the loudness of His voice, but the tenderness of His tones. He entreats us to be reconciled. “We pray you,” says the Apostle, “as though God did beseech you by us.” What earnest, pathetic terms are these! How deep must be the love which makes the Lord weep over sinners, and like a mother woo His children to His bosom! Surely at the call of such a cry our willing hearts will come.

Provision is made most plenteously; all is provided that man can need to quench his soul’s thirst. To his conscience the atonement brings peace; to his understanding the gospel brings the richest instruction; to his heart the person of Jesus is the noblest object of affection; to the whole man the truth as it is in Jesus supplies the purest nutriment. Thirst is terrible, but Jesus can remove it. Though the soul were utterly famished, Jesus could restore it.

Proclamation is made most freely, that every thirsty one is welcome. No other distinction is made but that of thirst. Whether it be the thirst of avarice, ambition, pleasure, knowledge, or rest, he who suffers from it is invited. The thirst may be bad in itself, and be no sign of grace, but rather a mark of inordinate sin longing to be gratified with deeper draughts of lust; but it is not goodness in the creature which brings him the invitation, the Lord Jesus sends it freely, and without respect of persons.

Personality is declared most fully. The sinner must come to Jesus, not to works, ordinances, or doctrines, but to a personal Redeemer, who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree. The bleeding, dying, rising Saviour, is the only star of hope to a sinner. Oh for grace to come now and drink, ere the sun sets upon the year’s last day!

No waiting or preparation is so much as hinted at. Drinking represents a reception for which no fitness is required. A fool, a thief, a harlot can drink; and so sinfulness of character is no bar to the invitation to believe in Jesus. We want no golden cup, no bejewelled chalice, in which to convey the water to the thirsty; the mouth of poverty is welcome to stoop down and quaff the flowing flood. Blistered, leprous, filthy lips may touch the stream of divine love; they cannot pollute it, but shall themselves be purified. Jesus is the fount of hope. Dear reader, hear the dear Redeemer’s loving voice as He cries to each of us,

“If any man thirst,
let him come unto me
and drink.”