VIDEO New Year, New You—New Beginnings

You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance. Psalm 65:11

The Bible uses the word “year” more than 700 times, beginning in Genesis 1, where God established the sun and moon to “be for signs and seasons, and for days and years” (verse 14). God created the world as a sphere, which rotates on its axis every 24 hours and revolves around the sun every 365 days—ensuring we have an endless supply of new beginnings.

A new year can signal a new you. It provides an opportunity for fresh starts.

The psalmist recognized this when he praised God for crowning the year with goodness and abundance. Psalm 65, attributed to David, overflows with thanksgiving—for answered prayer (verse 2), for total forgiveness (verse 3), for God’s nearness (verse 4), and for His creative power in forming the mountains and seas (verses 5-7). And in verse 8 he said, “Where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy” (NIV).

As we begin a new year, remember that a new you begins with praising God for His new beginnings. He has so much in store for us! How could we not thank Him?

The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year, but rather that we should have a new soul. G. K. Chesterton

Psalm 65 • Praise for God’s faithful and loving provision

When the Floods Come

The one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. Luke 6:49

I live in Colorado, a state in the western US known for the Rocky Mountains and our annual snowfall. Yet the worst natural disaster in my state had nothing to do with snow, but rain. The Big Thompson flood occurred on July 31, 1976, around the resort town of Estes Park. When the water finally receded, the death toll was 144 lives, not including livestock. In the wake of that disaster significant studies were done in the area, especially in regard to the foundation of roads and highways. The walls of the roads that withstood the storm were those filled with concrete. In other words, they had a sure and strong foundation. 

In our lives the question is not if the floods will come, but when. Sometimes we have advance notice, but usually not. Jesus stresses a strong foundation for such times—one built by not just hearing His words but also by living out the gospel (Luke 6:47). That practice is almost like pouring concrete into our lives. When the floods come, and they will, we can withstand them because we’ve been “well built” (v. 48). The absence of practice leaves our lives vulnerable to collapse and destruction (v. 49). It’s the difference between being wise and foolish.

It’s good to pause occasionally and do a little foundation assessment. Jesus will help us to fortify the weak places that we might stand strong in His power when the floods come.

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

What weak spots need attention in your life? How might you work on them?

Jesus, I want to be not just a hearer but a doer as well. Give me the vision to see weak places in my foundation that need attention. And thank You for Your promised presence when the floods do come.

Prayer in Jesus’ Name

John 14:11-14

If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably heard people close their prayers with the phrase “In Jesus’ name, amen.” In fact, you may conclude your own prayers this way, but do you know what praying in Jesus’ name really means?

Some believers think any request that concludes with these words will automatically be fulfilled, but praying in Jesus’ name is not some kind of spiritual guarantee for our wishes. It’s true that Jesus promised to do whatever we ask in His name (John 14:14). However, we cannot base our concept of prayer on this one verse without considering the context and other teachings on the subject throughout Scripture. Doing so leads to confusion and disappointment when God doesn’t answer as we expect.

Praying in Jesus’ name means asking according to His will so the Father will be glorified in the Son (John 14:13). In other words, our requests must be consistent with Christ’s desires and purposes—which are revealed to us in the Bible. And our motive should be to glorify God, not simply to please ourselves. When we pray in this way, we can confidently say, “In Jesus’ name” and have faith that God will answer.

Practice The Golden Rule

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

This command of Christ is the famous so-called Golden Rule of conduct. As He said, it succinctly summarizes and crystallizes all the instructions given in the Old Testament Scriptures dealing with human interrelationships. In fact, somewhat similar guidelines can be found even in certain ancient extra-biblical writings.

It should be stressed, however, that this maxim is not meant to be a prerequisite for salvation. No mere human being ever obeys this rule perfectly, any more than one can keep perfectly the Ten Commandments.

It was included by Christ as a part of what is known as the Sermon on the Mount, which the Bible clearly states was a series of instructions given only to believers—that is, to people already saved through personal faith in Christ. At the very beginning of this “sermon,” it says clearly that “seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them” (Matthew 5:1-2).

Thus, the Golden Rule is only for Christian believers. It is a standard by which we should seek to order our personal lives, not to be saved, but because we are saved. “Be ye therefore perfect,” said the Lord, “even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). No one—except Christ Himself, in His humanity—has ever perfectly kept the Golden Rule or been sinlessly perfect (note 1 John 1:8, 10). Nevertheless, our standard can be nothing less. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect,” said the apostle Paul: “but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12). And so should we. HMM

The Set of Our Sails

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank. —Daniel 1:8

Though we do not hear much of it in this age of spineless religion, there is nevertheless much in the Bible about the place of moral determination in the service of the Lord. “Jacob vowed a vow,” and it was the beginning of a very wonderful life with God….

Daniel “purposed in his heart,” and God honored his purpose. Jesus set His face like a flint and walked straight toward the cross. Paul “determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2)….

These are only a few of the many men… of the Bible who have left us a record of spiritual greatness born out of a will firmly set to do the will of God….

Let us, then, set our sails in the will of God. If we do this we will certainly find ourselves moving in the right direction, no matter which way the wind blows.   SOS011-013

Lord, help us to serve You unreservedly. We are often pulled in other directions, but keep us focused and faithful, undeterred and undefiled. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Truth Made Practical

As Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life —Romans 6:4

We who pride ourselves on our orthodoxy…have in recent years committed a costly blunder….Our blunder (or shall we frankly say our sin?) has been to neglect the doctrine of the Spirit to a point where we virtually deny Him His place in the Godhead.

This denial has not been by open doctrinal statement, for we have clung closely enough to the biblical position wherever our creedal pronouncements are concerned. Our formal creed is sound; the breakdown is in our working creed.

This is not a trifling distinction. A doctrine has practical value only as far as it is prominent in our thoughts and makes a difference in our lives. POM060

Truth consists not in correct doctrine, but in correct doctrine plus the inward enlightenment of the Holy Spirit…Deity indwelling men!…. No man has experienced rightly the power of Christian belief until he has known this for himself as a living reality. POM084, 100

On the Windward Side of Grace

2 Corinthians 9:8

I have always been grateful for the phrase “turning over a new leaf when thinking about new year’s resolutions. There’s not a new leaf to be found in January. Thankfully, they’re all buried under a blanket of snow, and we’ll not have to worry about turning over any new vegetation until at least March or April!

Like most people, I must confess to a certain reticence when it comes to change. Old routines and habits are comfortable, predictable. The unknown is unnerving, however bright a prospect might seem.

I suppose it’s not so much change that bothers us as the certain dread that comes with something unfamiliar entering our lives. It’s interesting to note the frequency of the phrase “fear not” in the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, every time you turn over a new leaf of Scripture, it is “Fear not!”

How do we survive the unpredictability of life? The poet lamented, “O God, Thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small!” Perhaps our first step to victory is to recognize the finiteness of our present situation and to place our trust in the reliable and changeless—in God.

When we recognize that it is God who underlies the thoughts and movements and melodies of life, we learn to look at change in a new way. New possibilities, challenges, dreams. Some fresh wind or bright flower, some strain of music before unheard.

If ever there was someone pressed and oppressed by the exigencies of life, it was the Apostle Paul. He not only coped, he triumphed, for he had set his course on a fixed, immovable point—the glory of God whose very nature is victory. Witnessing to that fact, he advised: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).

No matter what comes into our lives, we don’t need to wonder about our destination. “O God, Thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small.” Perhaps the writer was not aware that God is in the boat with us. And there lies our victory.

If we’ve set our sails on the windward side of His grace, it is precisely His great sea that will bring us to safety—to a harbor where under each new leaf is some new treasure He has prepared for those who follow Him.

Marlene Chase, The War Cry