VIDEO A Blessed New Year

Blessed in the man.  Psalm 1:1

Psalm 1 is the gateway to all the Psalms. In six verses, it gives us all we need to move into the new year. The first word is Blessed. God wants to bless you in the coming year.

In verse 1, you are blessed by your separation—the things you don’t do and people you avoid (“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel in the ungodly”). In verse 2, you’re blessed by your meditation (“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates…”). In verse 3, you’re blessed by your maturation as God develops you (“like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit”). And in verses 4-6, you are blessed in your destination (“The Lord knows the way of the righteous”).

The coming year will be full of blessings for those who turn away from harmful habits, rededicate themselves to studying and meditating on God’s Word, envision themselves as trees by channels of water, and look forward to God’s leading every step of the way.

By God’s grace, that’s you! So have a blessed New Year!

Blessed, O Lord, the opening year, / to each soul assembled here: / Clothe Thy Word with power divine, / Make us willing to be Thine. John Newton


Applying Psalm 1 to Life by Paul Washer

Beautiful Fruit

Today's Devotional

The seed is the word of God. Luke 8:11

“Kids should be able to throw a seed anywhere they want [in the garden] and see what pops up,” suggests Rebecca Lemos-Otero, founder of City Blossoms. While this is not a model for careful gardening, it reflects the reality that each seed has the potential to burst forth with life. Since 2004, City Blossoms has created gardens for schools and neighborhoods in low-income areas. The kids are learning about nutrition and gaining job skills through gardening. Rebecca says, “Having a lively green space in an urban area . . . creates a way for kids to be outside doing something productive and beautiful.”

Jesus told a story about the scattering of seed that had the potential of producing “a hundred times more than was sown” (Luke 8:8). That seed was God’s good news planted on “good soil,” which He explained is “honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest” (v. 15 nlt).

The only way we can be fruitful, Jesus said, is to stay connected to Him (John 15:4). As we’re taught by Christ and cling to Him, the Spirit produces in us His fruit of “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). He uses the fruit He produces in us to touch the lives of others, who are then changed and grow fruit from their own lives. This makes for a beautiful life.

By: Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

How are you staying connected to Jesus? What fruit do you want Him to produce in you?

I want a beautiful life, Father. Please produce Your fruit in me that I might live a life that points others to You.

An Encounter With God

Isaiah 6:1-13

Each Sunday countless people congregate in church buildings to worship God. But for many of them, going to church is merely an item on their checklist—an activity that fulfills their “spiritual duty.” Although they may be moved by the music and sermon, they quickly lose the feeling and return to a life in which God seems distant, and the world’s pleasures begin to look more attractive.

Isaiah’s time apparently wasn’t so different from ours. Listen to God’s assessment: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught” (Isa. 29:13 NIV).

What is the solution when God’s people begin to take Him for granted? Isaiah’s encounter with the Lord in today’s reading provides a good example. When he saw God’s awesome holiness, Isaiah was filled with fear and profound awareness of his own sin. In distress, he cried out, “Woe is me, for I am ruined!” (Isa. 6:5). After being cleansed from his sin, his one desire was to serve the Lord as His prophet, and he said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isa. 6:8).

Although it’s unlikely we will experience a vision like this, every time we open God’s Word, we have an opportunity to see “the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:5) as Isaiah did. What’s even more amazing is that this majestic, holy God invites us into an intimate relationship with Him through His Son.

If your spiritual life has become too mechanical, it’s time to approach your time with God differently. Pray for a heart that is open to a true encounter with Him, and wait patiently for His provision.

There Are Times and Seasons

“And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” (Acts 1:7)

Just before Christ ascended into heaven, His disciples asked Him, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (v. 6). Christ refrained from answering their question as they had hoped, but in His wisdom He used the occasion to teach them that some information is for God alone, including the “times and the seasons.” In our finiteness, we are unable to handle too much information, and should we know even a small part of the “knowledge [which] is too wonderful for me” (Psalm 139:6), we would use it improperly.

Isaiah taught the same lesson many years before: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). God has graciously revealed enough that we know He has a wonderful plan, but the details are known by Him alone. They are under His “own power,” or authority. Certainly He knows the future, but more than that, He controls it.

And why not? He created time (Genesis 1:1); surely He can exercise authority over it. Surely the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Revelation 22:13) can control the destinies of individuals and nations. “Power” to work out His good pleasure rests solely with “the only wise God our Saviour . . . now and ever” (Jude 1:25).

Even though this “power” is His alone, His promise to the disciples that “ye shall receive power [a different word than that in verse 7, here meaning strength]” (Acts 1:8) has been fulfilled in the person of the Holy Spirit. We have what we need to be “witnesses” of that which we know of Him to “the uttermost part of the earth.” JDM

Be Prepared for Whatever

LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

—Psalm 90:1-2

Yet I do not advise that we end the year on a somber note. The march, not the dirge, has ever been the music of Christianity. If we are good students in the school of life, there is much that the years have to teach us. But the Christian is more than a student, more than a philosopher. He is a believer, and the object of his faith makes the difference, the mighty difference.

Of all persons the Christian should be best prepared for whatever the New Year brings. He has dealt with life at its source. In Christ he has disposed of a thousand enemies that other men must face alone and unprepared. He can face his tomorrow cheerful and unafraid because yesterday he turned his feet into the ways of peace and today he lives in God. The man who has made God his dwelling place will always have a safe habitation.   WOS148

Thank You, Father, for all You’ve taught me this past year. Thank You for the stretching experiences. Thank You for Tozer’s wise counsel. Thank You for the privilege of serving You. Thank You for Your love and grace. Amen.

 

Laborers together with God

Then bear a joy where joy is not, Go, speak a kindly word in love, Less bitter make some loveless lot, Now earth is linked to heaven above.

Frederick G. Lee.

 

Do what you can—give what you have. Only stop not with feelings; carry your charity into deeds; do and give what costs you something.

J. H. Thom.

 

“Up and be doing” is the word that comes from God for each of us. Leave some “good work” behind you that shall not be wholly lost when you have passed away. Do something worth living for, worth dying for. Is there no want, no suffering, no sorrow that you can relieve? Is there no act of tardy justice, no deed of cheerful kindness, no long-forgotten duty that you can perform? Is there no reconciliation of some ancient quarrel, no payment of some long-outstanding debt, no courtesy, or love, or honor to be rendered to those to whom it has long been due; no charitable, humble, kind, useful deed by which you can promote the glory of God, or good will among men, or peace upon earth? If there be any such deed, in God’s name, in Christ’s name, go and do it.

Arthur P. Stanley.

 

No Strangers In Heaven

“Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” Ps. 73:24

From day to day and from year to year my faith believes in the wisdom and love of God, and I know that I shall not believe in vain. No good word of His has ever failed, and I am sure that none shall ever fall to the ground.

I put myself into His hand for guidance. I know not the way that I should choose: the Lord shall choose mine inheritance for me. I need counsel and advice; for my duties are intricate, and my condition is involved. I seek to the Lord, as the High Priest of old looked to his Urim and Thummim. The counsel of the infallible God I seek in preference to my own judgment or the advice of friends. Glorious Jehovah, thou shalt guide me!

Soon the end will come: a few more years, and I must depart out of this world unto the Father. My Lord will be near my bed. He will meet me at Heaven’s gate: He will welcome me to the glory land. I shall not be a stranger in Heaven: my own God and Father will receive me to its endless bliss.

 

Glory be to Him Who will guide me here, and receive me hereafter. Amen.