VIDEO New Year, New You, Personal Revival, Gospel-Shaped Life

O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known. Habakkuk 3:2

When God created the rotations and revolutions of the heavenly bodies, He did so in a way that gives us consistent periods of time called years, each of which is comprised of approximately 365.25 days. More precisely, a year is 31,557,600 seconds. The Lord wants to bless each second and every second of this year by giving us a perpetual, personal revival. 

Perhaps this will be the year when a global awakening will occur—and how we need it! But even if we don’t witness a historic revival, we can live with daily spiritual freshness in our own heart, which will spread to others. Revival gives new freshness to you.

Let’s adopt Habakkuk’s prayer. If you need a fresh experience with the Lord, tell Him and then be determined to bring your life into alignment with all He shows you in Scripture. For you, your family, your church, this can be a refreshing season. This can be a year when the work of God is revived in your life.

Perhaps God is calling you to something deeper. Maybe you’re ready to experience personal revival! Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Tim Keller | The Gospel-Shaped Life

Dig It Up

Get rid of all bitterness. Ephesians 4:31

When Rebecca’s brother and sister-in-law started having marriage problems, Rebecca prayed earnestly for their reconciliation. But they divorced. Then her sister-in-law took the children out of state and their dad didn’t protest. Rebecca never again saw the nieces she dearly loved. Years later she said, “Because of trying to handle this sadness on my own, I let a root of bitterness start in my heart, and it began to spread to my family and friends.”

The book of Ruth tells about a woman named Naomi who struggled with a heart of grief that grew into bitterness. Her husband died in a foreign land, and ten years later both her sons died. She was left destitute with her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah (1:3–5). When Naomi and Ruth returned to Naomi’s home country, the whole town was excited to see them. But Naomi told her friends: “The Almighty has made my life very bitter. . . . The Lord has afflicted me” (vv. 20–21). She even asked them to call her “Mara,” meaning bitter. 

Who hasn’t faced disappointment and been tempted toward bitterness? Someone says something hurtful, an expectation isn’t met, or demands from others make us resentful. When we acknowledge to ourselves and God what’s happening deep in our hearts, our tender Gardener can help us dig up any roots of bitterness—whether they’re still small or have been growing for years—and can replace them with a sweet, joyful spirit.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

What areas of life do you tend to become bitter about? What’s growing inside your heart that needs God’s loving care?

God, help me to see the goodness in life You’re always displaying. And dig up any root of bitterness in my heart that dishonors You

The Believer’s Repentance

2 Corinthians 12:20-21

Do you know the difference between confession of sin and repentance? We should be careful not to confuse the two—because it’s possible to confess without moving into genuine repentance. To confess sin is to agree with God’s assessment of our transgression, but repentance goes further. It involves taking responsibility for our sin by deliberately turning from it and committing to walk in obedience to God by the power of His Spirit.

It’s not enough to merely feel sorry and confess sin but change nothing. Jesus’ gracious forgiveness isn’t like a “get out of jail free” card from a certain board game. We must do more than casually say, “Lord, I’ve messed up again. I’m sorry.” To triumph over habitual sin, we must rely on God’s power, both to resist temptation and to obey Him. We might fail again, but it’s important that we keep coming to the Lord in sincere confession and repentance until He gives us victory­­—in this life or in the one to come.

If you are struggling with particular sin, ask the Lord to show you how grievous it is to Him. Then look at it from His perspective. I pray this results in a true spirit of repentance, and that your admission leads you to a more intimate relationship with the Father.

Christ in You, the Hope of Glory

“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)

The last six words of this text have been the theme of many sermons, and surely they are worth our study, for the concept is used throughout Scripture. They also are included in the final verse of “Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners.”

Jesus! I do now receive Him,
More than all in Him I find;
Christ in me, the Hope of glory,
I am His, and He is mine.

Christ does indeed live in each believer and fills and controls as allowed by the individual. But for those filled with His abundance, He provides the certain “hope” of glory. We have assurance of salvation, adoption, grace, Spirit-filled life, and eternal glory as we are in Christ. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Scripture specifically teaches that God loves sinners as they are and moves as a gracious “Friend” to pay the penalty for their sin. “If thou shalt…believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).

The words “believe” and “receive,” while not the same, can often be used interchangeably in Scripture. Once we truly believe, we can receive Him, for when we believe we simultaneously receive God’s forgiveness and salvation. And we can affirm, “I am His, and He is mine.” His sweet “friendship” will last for all time. JDM

Meditate Long and Often

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. —Psalm 143:5-6

Among Christians of all ages and of varying shades of doctrinal emphasis there has been fairly full agreement on one thing: They all believed that it was important that the Christian with serious spiritual aspirations should learn to meditate long and often on God.

Let a Christian insist upon rising above the poor average of current religious experience and he will soon come up against the need to know God Himself as the ultimate goal of all Christian doctrine. Let him seek to explore the sacred wonders of the Triune Godhead and he will discover that sustained and intelligently directed meditation on the Person of God is imperative. To know God well he must think on Him unceasingly. Nothing that man has discovered about himself or God has revealed any shortcut to pure spirituality. It is still free, but tremendously costly.   TIC135

Slow me down, Lord, and quiet my heart. Favor me with an acute awareness of Your presence as I meditate quietly. I want to know You, God, so I can indeed move well beyond that “poor average of current religious experience.” Amen.

The Holy Spirit Is God

I will put my spirit within you…and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. —Ezekiel 36:27

How shall we think of the Holy Spirit? The Bible declares that He is God. Every quality belonging to Almighty God is freely attributed to Him. All that God is, the Spirit is declared to be. The Spirit of God is one with and equal to God just as the spirit of a man is equal to and one with the man….

The historic Church when she formulated her “rule of faith” boldly wrote into her confession her belief in the Godhood of the Holy Ghost. The Apostles’ Creed witnesses to faith in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Ghost and makes no difference between the three. The fathers who composed the Nicene Creed testified in a passage of great beauty to their faith in the deity of the Spirit:

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified. POM066-067

[A]ll that the Son is the Holy Ghost is, and all that the Father is the Holy Ghost is, and the Holy Ghost is in His Church. HTB020

The Pragmatism of Holy Living

Hebrews 12:10

It was Evelyn Underhill, writing in the 1930s, but with lasting relevance, who said, “There is nothing high-minded about Christian holiness. It is most at home in the slum, the street, the hospital ward.”

Holiness is for every day, hour by hour. It is for the workplace and the shopping center. It is for our dealings with all manner of people.

Most of all, and often most testingly of all, it is for our home life. None can overestimate the value to God’s kingdom of a holy life lived out among one’s relatives, especially when those relatives are unsaved and perhaps even skeptical about the gospel. There is no effective argument against the silent eloquence of holiness.

So many folk have a sadly mistaken notion of what holiness involves. They seem to think it’s about pious conversation in serious voices. Far from it! Laughter abounds and a sense of humor is essential. A natural, healthy interest in the opposite sex is only to be expected, but lust is out and so too are all forms of sexual impurity. Holiness sharpens your mind and your opinions. You can speak your mind, but strife, self-indulgent anger or deliberately cutting words must go. Irritability as a mark of personality cannot coexist with the fruits of the Spirit, but natural tension and stress through tiredness are not sins.

The believer who has set out for holiness still needs to eat, but is no glutton. He needs to sleep, but is not addicted to indolence. He needs to earn and spend, but is not in love with money. He will dress appropriately, but undue pride in personal appearance or lack of modesty will have no place.

Holiness is not an exemption from temptation. It is not moral perfection or infallibility. Mistakes will still abound. Holiness does not make a man or woman all-seeing or all-knowing. Hence the believer needs to recognize that the holy life can still encompass error, and that our errors can still hurt others. In the holy life, “I am sorry, please forgive me” will be words readily upon the lips and frequently spoken.

The essence of holiness is that deliberately choosing to sin has stopped by the rich grace of God. Bramwell Tripp summed up the possibility of pragmatic holiness in three sentences:

To say “I must sin” is to deny my Savior.

To say “I cannot sin” is to deceive myself.

To say “I need not sin” is to declare my faith in divine power!

Shaw Clifton, Never the Same Again