Beginning Again

Beginning Again

Everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. Ezra 1:5

After Christmas festivities conclude at the end of December, my thoughts often turn to the coming year. While my children are out of school and our daily rhythms are slow, I reflect on where the last year has brought me and where I hope the next will take me. Those reflections sometimes come with pain and regret over the mistakes I’ve made. Yet the prospect of starting a new year fills me with hope and expectancy. I feel I have the opportunity to begin again with a fresh start, no matter what the last year held.

My anticipation of a fresh start pales in comparison to the sense of hope the Israelites must have felt when Cyrus, the king of Persia, released them to return to their homeland in Judah after seventy long years of captivity in Babylon. The previous king, Nebuchadnezzar, had deported the Israelites from their homeland. But the Lord prompted Cyrus to send the captives home to Jerusalem to rebuild God’s temple (Ezra 1:2–3). Cyrus also returned to them treasures that had been taken from the temple. Their lives as God’s chosen people, in the land God had appointed to them, began afresh after a long season of hardship in Babylon as a consequence for their sin.

Lord, thank You for Your grace and forgiveness and new beginnings.

No matter what lies in our past, when we confess our sin, God forgives us and gives us a fresh start. What great cause for hope!

What can you do to grow closer to God this year? Share your thoughts with us at

God’s grace offers us fresh starts.

By Kirsten Holmberg

Throne of Glory

Matthew 25:31

When you pray, how do you approach God? Numerous Christians visualize a holy, righteous being and approach Him with feelings of fear, unworthiness, and reluctance. On the other hand, many believers picture the Lord as a pal and talk to Him with little reverence.

Neither approach is healthy. Our finite minds cannot fully grasp that God is both loving and holy. So let’s first look at the righteous, fear-provoking side of the Lord. If we consider the forces of nature that God created and the amazing miracles He has performed, it’s easier to visualize the incredible power around heaven’s throne.

The first-century temple contained the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence resided. Only the priest could enter—and just on specified days, after ritual cleansing and preparation. If he did not get himself ready exactly according to scriptural rules, he would be struck dead.

To be in the Lord’s presence requires obedience. In fact, because of His absolute holiness and perfection, He is unable to commune with sinfulness, which is the condition of all mankind (Rom. 3:9). Therefore, every one of us is guilty and deserving of condemnation. Thankfully, though, God did not leave us helpless, but out of grace and love sent His Son to be our Redeemer.

Each page of Scripture can deepen our understanding of God’s greatness. Are you amazed at His presence and deeds? To understand more about His character, read and meditate on His Word. Then take time to praise Him, for He alone is worthy of our adoration.

All Things New

“And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:5)

The coming of a new year is a good time to consider that glorious time to come when Christ will make everything new again. In the present age, all things “shall wax old as doth a garment” (Hebrews 1:11) under the bondage of the universal law of decay and death; indeed “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22).

“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). There, in the “new Jerusalem,” we shall each have “a new name” and sing “a new song” (Revelation 21:2; 2:17; 5:9). We shall have new bodies, “fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21), and a new dwelling place, prepared by Christ Himself among the “many mansions” in His “Father’s house” (John 14:2).

And all the old and dying things will be completely and forever gone. “There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). “And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10).

What a “Happy New Year” that will be! In the meantime, we have His “new covenant” and have each been made “a new creature” in Christ (Hebrews 12:24Galatians 6:15). Since all His words “are true and faithful,” we know His promises are sure. Therefore, already, “old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” through faith in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). HMM

He prepared his ways before the Lord his God

2 Chronicles 27

Uzziah, king of Judah, who became a leper, was succeeded by his son Jotham.

2 Chronicles 27:2

We should imitate our parents’ excellencies, but not their failings. It is well that Jotham took warning from his father’s sin.

2 Chronicles 27:2

They would have followed the king had he been a worshipper of idols, but they would not go with him in adoring the Lord. There was even a conspiracy hatched against him to set up the son of Tabeal, but it came to nothing.

2 Chronicles 27:4

He did what he could for the material benefit of the people, greatly mourning that they were so indifferent to their own spiritual good.

2 Chronicles 27:5

For one good man’s sake God blessed the whole nation. It is sad to think that this did not lead them to follow the example of their pious king; yet how many children there are with godly parents who nevertheless continue to sin against the Lord, and grieve their father’s heart. May there never be any such in this house; and if there be, may the Lord Jesus look upon them and grant them repentance unto life.

2 Chronicles 27:6

He was careful and thoughtful in his conduct, and fearful lest he should sin by inadvertence, and therefore he became strong. There is a great deal of meaning in the expression “he prepared his ways before the Lord his God;” it implies that he did not follow men, or seek their approbation, but lived as in the immediate presence of the Lord, and desired above all things to please him.

2 Chronicles 27:7-9

Thus passed away one of the six best kings of Judah; happy nation to have known such a ruler.

It may be for our instruction to notice that, during the long reign of Uzziah over Judah, the unhappy kingdom of Israel had been a scene of strife. For many years no king sat upon the throne, and when at last Zechariah, the fourth descendant from Jehu, assumed the crown, his reign was ended in six months by Shallum, who killed him in the presence of the people. Shallum also destroyed all the members of the family of Jehu, and thus the prophetic threatening was fulfilled. Shallum, the murderer, enjoyed the throne for only one month, and was in his turn murdered by Menahem, who for the next ten years oppressed the people, who were wholly given to their idols. At this period we hear, for the first time, of an Assyrian invasion, and Menahem purchased peace by paying a heavy subsidy and yielding a number of his subjects as captives. At Menahem’s death his son Pekahiah mounted the guilty throne, to pursue the same course of sin as his predecessors, but in the brief space of two years his reign was over, for Pekah, one of his captains, assassinated him, and began to reign at about the same period, or a little before Jotham; so that Pekah, as king of Israel, was contemporary with Jotham and Ahaz kings of Judah. Do not feel troubled by these details, for nothing in God’s word is trivial. Those who love the Lord love every letter of his Book. The prophecy of Hosea will lose much of its interest to us if we are not acquainted with the times in which he lived. The histories of Scripture are as much inspired as the Psalms or the Gospels, and it is a shame for Christians not to be well acquainted with them.


Let God’s Peace Serve as your Umpire For Your Mind and Emotions!

Colossians 3:15

Have you ever had one of those days when there was so much confusion whirling around your head that you felt like screaming, “STOP”?

From time to time, everyone has that kind of a day And when you do, your temptation is probably either to get in the flesh and react to someone in an ugly way or to get depressed, go to bed, and forget about it all. However, you know that neither choice will help you solve the problems you are facing.

Rather than throw in the towel and give way to these emotions that want to get the best of you, why not stop right now and make a decision to let the Word of God rule you today? When I say “rule” you, I’m talking about God’s supernatural peace dominating and governing every emotion and situation that confronts you. If you don’t make this decision and follow through with it, worry, fear, insecurity, doubt, and a whole host of other emotions will assuredly try to take control. And there is no worse roller-coaster ride than when you are being knocked all over the place by emotions that are out of control!

Instead, let the peace of God rule in your heart, as Paul wrote in Colossians 3:15. He said, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” I especially want you to notice the word “rule” in this verse. It is from the Greek word brabeuo, which in ancient times was used to describe the umpire or referee who moderated and judged the athletic competitions that were so popular in the ancient world.

Paul uses this word to tell us that the peace of God can work like an umpire or referee in our hearts, minds, and emotions. When detrimental emotions attempt to exert control over us or try to throw us into an emotional frenzy, we can stop it from happening by making the choice to let God’s peace rise up from deep inside us like an umpire or referee to moderate our emotions. As we do, we will be kept under the control of that divine peace as it rules in our hearts. When this divine umpire called “peace” steps into the game, it suddenly begins to call the shots and make all the decisions instead of fretfulness, anxiety, and worry.


Colossians 3:15 could be translated:

“Let the peace of God call the shots in your life….”

“Let the peace of God be the umpire in your life and actions….”

“Let the peace of God act as referee in your emotions and your decisions….”

Even though it’s true that everyone has hard days and difficult weeks, you don’t have to surrender to those emotions that try to steal your joy, disturb your relationships, and rob you of your victory. When you feel overwhelmed by problems or emotions that are hitting you from every direction, just stop a moment and deliberately set your heart and mind on Jesus and the Word of God. As you do this, the wonderful, conquering dominating supernatural peace of God will rise up from your spirit and take control!


Lord, I don’t want to let my emotions get the best of me today, so I ask that Your peace would rise up like a mighty umpire and referee in my heart, mind, and emotions. Help me recognize those moments when unhelpful emotions try to sneak up on me. I ask You to teach me how to put those emotions aside and release Your supernatural peace that is resident in my heartthe peace that is always ready at every moment to moderate every thought and emotion that tries to pass into my life!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that God’s supernatural peace dominates me. When I am tempted to get upset and my emotions try to take control of me, I put these emotions aside and allow the Spirit of God to release a supernatural, dominating moderating peace to rule my heart, mind, and emotions!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. Do you recognize moments when your emotions try to throw you into an emotional tizzy and steal your peace and joy?
  2. Have you asked God to help you overcome these moments?
  3. What steps can you take to quiet yourself so you can focus on God’s Word and allow the peace of God to rise up and referee what is going on inside your heart, mind, and emotions?


Ever Felt Lousy About Yourself?

You need to know how God feels about you:

  • You are “majestic” in His eyes (Literally: excellent, glorious, mighty, worthy)
  • You are the source of all His delight (Psalm 16:3)

Zephaniah 3:17 puts it this way:

  • The Lord is with you
  • He takes great delight in you
  • He will quiet you with His love
  • He rejoices over you with singing

Of you He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3) He has always loved you! Even before you were conceived!


Yes, I know you are a sinner. That is not new information. But in His eyes your problem with sin has nothing to do with your intrinsic worth. If your daughter contracts cancer, her worth is not diminished in your eyes, is it?


As the kid said, “God didn’t make any junk.” The truth is that “you are fearfully and wonderfully madeskillfully wrought: God’s marvelous creation! (Psalm 139:14, 15) In fact, “while we were sinners” — scuzzball rebels — Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Before we cleaned up our act, He crawled up on that cross for us. Is there a more forceful demonstration of unconditional love?… Of your worth to Him?


So, this week as you enter the shark infested waters of the marketplace, keep in mind the fact that you are A CHILD OF THE KING. A PERSON OF INFINITE, ETERNAL WORTH.



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