VIDEO New Year, New You and Eternal Life

But You are the same, and Your years will have no end. Psalm 102:27

The writer of Psalm 102 was concerned about his fleeting days and years. He was apparently facing a serious illness or some crisis that was taking a heavy physical and emotional toll. He wasn’t sure how long he’d live, and he felt the Lord might be shortening his days (verse 23). We all have moments when we wonder if we’ll live as long as we planned.

But the psalmist was comforted in knowing that his God is eternal. “Your years are throughout all generations. Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure…. Your years will have no end” (verses 24-27).

Because God’s years will have no end, neither will those to whom He gives eternal life through Jesus Christ. Hymnist Frances Ridley Havergal once wrote, “Another year is dawning! / Dear Father, let it be / on earth, or else in heaven, / another year for Thee.”[1] If the Lord takes us to Heaven, it’s in His timing. But if not, we have another year on earth to live for Him! Let’s take advantage of it.

Let’s make one resolution this year: to anchor ourselves to God’s grace.

Chuck Swindoll

[1]Frances Ridley Havergal, “Another Year Is Dawning,” 1874.

Tim Keller | Prayer in the Psalms: Discovering How to Pray

The Deepest Places

I am worn out from my groaning. Psalm 6:6

Victor Hugo (1802–1885), a poet and novelist during the social and political upheavals of nineteenth-century France, is perhaps best known for his classic Les Miserables. Over a century later, a musical adaptation of his novel has become one of our generation’s most popular productions. This shouldn’t surprise us. As Hugo once said, “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”

The psalmists would have agreed. Their songs and prayers provide us with honest reflections on life and its inevitable pain. They touch us in places we find difficult to access. For example, in Psalm 6:6 David cries out, “I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.”

The fact that such raw honesty is included in the inspired songs of the Scriptures gives us great encouragement. It invites us to bring our fears to God, who welcomes us into His presence for comfort and help. He embraces us in our heartfelt honesty.

Music can give us the ability to express our feelings when words are hard to come by, but whether that expression is sung, prayed, or silently cried, our God reaches into the deepest places in our hearts and gives us His peace.

By:  Bill Crowder

Reflect & Pray

How would you characterize your prayer life? How does it make you feel to realize that God Himself allows you to come into His presence just as you are?

Thank You, loving God, for welcoming me with all my pain, fear, struggle, and disappointment. Thank You that You don’t want “correct” or “sanitized” prayers, but my honest heart instead.

Staying Young All Your Life

Psalm 92:12-15

Our bodies may age, but we get old only if we choose to do so—attitude is what makes the difference. Here are some suggestions for staying young your whole life. And since I’m well over 80, you can be sure I’ve tested them all!

First, we need to keep learning. Though learning takes effort, it allows to us to remain productive and keep contributing in the world. Gaining knowledge of Scripture should be first on our list, because God’s perspective reduces our anxiety and prepares us for His plan. But we should also commit to read up on our interests, take on new projects, and learn to use technology.

Of course, the more birthdays we have, the more challenging it can be to keep up with technological advances. But we can still remain productive, which leads me to my next suggestion: Keep laboring—even if you choose to retire from your vocation. Just as certain fruit improves as trees age, years of walking with God should yield greater fruit. Whatever your age, look for service opportunities through the church and other ministries.

If God blesses you with many years, bless Him with your service. He wants to use you all of your days, so stay young at heart as long as you can.

Thy Light and Thy Truth In Front

“O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.” (Psalm 43:3)

This old troubled world desperately needs light to find the way out of its darkness and truth to rightly plan its future. But they must be God’s light and God’s truth, not the seductive lights and humanistic philosophies of man’s fabrications.

God has, indeed, already sent out His light and His truth, but “men loved darkness rather than light” (John 3:19) and, although they profess to be “ever learning,” they yet are “never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” and, in fact, “turn away their ears from the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7; 4:4).

That was true in the psalmist’s day, and perhaps even more so in our day, although we surely have far more light and access to truth today than the psalmist ever had. We now have, for example, God’s complete written Word (Genesis through Revelation). Another psalmist had promised: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105), and also had promised: “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light” (Proverbs 6:23).

God’s truth surely is what we need—in fact, all we need—for our faith as we look to our future. This also is revealed in the light of His Word, both His inspired written Word and His incarnate living Word. The Lord Jesus not only claimed “I am…the truth” (John 14:6), He also prayed for us, saying: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). And for all who believe His revealed truth: “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). HMM

It Just May Not Be Convenient

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. —1 Corinthians 9:27

What must our Lord think of us if His work and His witness depend upon the convenience of His people? The truth is that every advance that we make for God and for His cause must be made at our inconvenience. If it does not inconvenience us at all, there is no cross in it! If we have been able to reduce spirituality to a smooth pattern and it costs us nothing—no disturbance, no bother and no element of sacrifice in it—we are not getting anywhere with God. We have stopped and pitched our unworthy tent halfway between the swamp and the peak.

We are mediocre Christians!

Was there ever a cross that was convenient? Was there ever a convenient way to die? I have never heard of any, and judgment is not going to be a matter of convenience, either! Yet we look around for convenience, thinking we can reach the mountain peak conveniently and without trouble or danger to ourselves.

Actually, mountain climbers are always in peril and they are always advancing at their inconvenience.   ITB048

Lord, help me to serve You faithfully, with full discipline, whether it’s convenient or not. Amen.

Light without Sight

The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light…should shine unto them —2 Corinthians 4:4

Satan has no fear of the light as long as he can keep his victims sightless. The uncomprehending mind is unaffected by truth. The intellect of the hearer may grasp saving knowledge while yet the heart makes no moral response to it.

A classic example of this is seen in the story of Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield….Whitefield talked with Franklin personally about his need of Christ and promised to pray for him. Years later Franklin wrote rather sadly that the evangelist’s prayers must not have done any good, for he was still unconverted.

No one could doubt the intellectual brilliance of Franklin and certainly Whitefield preached the whole truth; yet nothing came of it. Why? The only answer is that Franklin had light without sight. He never saw the Light of the World….The gospel is light but only the Spirit can give sight. BAM062-063

True faith is not believing in words merely, even divine words, but believing ON the Lord Jesus Christ. CTBC, Vol. 1/079

Confessions of a Teacher of Holiness

John 17:17

It is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified.” As a Salvationist teacher and preacher of holiness, I have heard that call and rejoice to proclaim it to others. Gladly I bear witness to its reality and redemptive power in my own experience. Still, I confess concerns as to the adequacy of my presentation of this grand truth and the extent to which we effectively embody it.

I wonder if we espouse a kind of holiness that is not tough enough. J. I. Packer speaks trenchantly of a modern preference for “hot tub religion,” which soothes our troubled spirits and makes but few demands. Is our holiness far too fragile to see us through the traumas of life? We face a determined and powerful enemy who seeks to destroy us. We need an experience that makes us tough enough to triumph in life’s inevitable encounters.

I also confess that I sometimes wonder whether our holiness is truth-centered enough, grounded firmly enough in the truth of Scripture, rather than based upon the experience of others. Jesus Himself said, “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17). It is our certainty of the truth that gives stability to faith and integrity to experience.

Further, is my approach to holiness total enough? Is our holiness too therapeutic in its emphasis? There are dangers of beginning with our human problems instead of God’s purpose. Is my approach to holiness sometimes too cosmetic? Holiness deals with the essential inner orientation of the personality. The self dies hard. The cross is painful and total.

I must confess that I have sometimes had cause to wonder if the holiness I profess and proclaim has made me tender enough. The truth is that we live in an age that is seductively desensitizing us to evil. What once might have appalled and embarrassed us, perhaps even angered us, now only makes us sad. What would it take to make us cry out in indignation? What miscarriage of justice, what indifference to standards of integrity, what crass immorality would move us to tears and stir us to action? How much do I care about purity, justice and integrity?

Finally, is my holiness telling enough? Our age cries out for men and women of God whose lives stand in stark contrast to the darkness that surrounds us.

May the Lord direct our hearts to a holiness that is tough enough, truth-centered enough, total enough, tender enough and telling enough.

Paul A. Rader, The Salvationist Pulpit