VIDEO Prepare for 2023

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel. Ezra 7:10

The end of December is often a time of preparation for the coming year. Resolutions are made. Closets are organized. Calendars are synced. The beginning of a new year is a natural time for putting life back in order after the busyness of the Christmas season.

This is a time when many decide to get their spiritual life back on track as well. Just as we need to prepare our home and schedule for what’s ahead, we need to prepare our heart too. In these days before 2023 begins, take time not only to prepare your calendar but also to prepare your heart for what the new year holds. Spend time reflecting on what God has done for you in 2022 and asking for wisdom as you begin 2023. Determine to spend time in God’s Word each day, to obey Him, and to share the Good News with others. Follow the example of Ezra and prepare your heart to seek the Lord first!

There is nothing that will enrich our lives more than a deeper and clearer perception of God’s presence in the routine of daily living. William O. Paulsell

Sermon: “The Hand of God” on Ezra 7:1-10 | Pastor Colin Smith

Grace Amid the Chaos

They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Psalm 107:30

I was drifting off into an impromptu nap when it hit me. From the basement, my son ripped a chord on his electric guitar. The walls reverberated. No peace. No quiet. No nap. Moments later, competing music greeted my ears: my daughter playing “Amazing Grace” on the piano.

Normally, I love my son’s guitar playing. But in that moment, it jarred and unsettled me. Just as quickly, the familiar notes of John Newton’s hymn reminded me that grace thrives amid the chaos. No matter how loud, unwanted, or disorienting the storms of life might be, God’s notes of grace ring clear and true, reminding us of His watchful care over us.  

We see that reality in Scripture. In Psalm 107:23–32, sailors struggle mightily against a maelstrom that could easily devour them. “In their peril, their courage melted away” (v. 26). Still, they didn’t despair but “cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress” (v. 28). Finally, we read: “They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven” (v. 30).

In chaotic moments, whether they’re life-threatening or merely sleep-threatening, the barrage of noise and fear can storm our souls. But as we trust God and pray to Him, we experience the grace of His presence and provision—the haven of His steadfast love.

By:  Adam Holz

Reflect & Pray

When have you experienced God’s haven of peace in other people? To whom might you offer similar encouragement?  

Father, help me to remember to call out to You when the waters of life are rising, and help me to offer hope to others.

For further study, read Navigating the Storms of Life.

No Unimportant Work

God sees and rewards every act of obedience, no matter how small it may seem

Colossians 4:7-18

At first glance, the final verses of Colossians seem to have little theological impact. Most of the people listed here, with the exception of Luke and Mark, are unfamiliar. We could easily dismiss these verses, skipping over them to delve into 1 Thessalonians. But these verses carry the subtle message that no ministry is unimportant. 

For instance, Tychicus, the first mentioned, played an incredible role—wherever he appears in Scripture, he is running errands for Paul (Acts 20:4Ephesians 6:212 Timothy 4:12). Thanks to this man, the Colossian epistle traveled over 1,300 miles to its destination, then moved from church to church to be read repeatedly and copied. Without Paul’s conscientious assistant, modern believers might not have this valuable letter. 

We tend to judge types of service as important or unimportant. Too often pride inhibits our approval of a particular ministry. We want a big, impressive job to prove to everyone how much we love God. However, what the Lord desires is the exact opposite: He wants our love to motivate us to do anything He asks, no matter how insignificant or unnoticeable it may seem. 

What is God asking you to do that you are resisting? Repent of your pride and humble yourself to do all that He desires. None of God’s work is unimportant. 

God’s Grace and Glory

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.” (Psalm 84:11-12)

Yahweh vows to protect His children who walk uprightly, following Him in obedience. The sun and shield are a picture of what is positive and protective, illustrating both His grace and glory. Peter in his first letter to the church further signifies the importance of these two words: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:10-11).

Considering Psalm 84:11 alongside 1 Peter 5:10-11 gives a fuller picture of God’s grace and refining hand, with the fourfold result that He perfects, confirms, strengthens, and establishes the believer. As one godly saint said, “God’s grace is waiting in perpetual eagerness for an opportunity to show itself, so He may repair our imperfections. Bad as we are, we would be far worse if we had less suffering.”

Think about this, believer. Since we have tasted that the Lord is gracious (1 Peter 2:3), we should not be afraid of anything He purposes for His children—even suffering, because we know it accomplishes perfecting qualities in our sanctification. Additionally, our hearts are further shaped by the Word of God chiseling away our impurities (2 Peter 3:17).

Finally, God’s grace will lead to glory (Psalm 84:11). Suffering comes first, along with His grace, and then comes the magnificent glory of our high calling. CM

God is Enough

Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded.Jeremiah 7:23

The error that everything new is good and everything old is bad takes place in the realm of practice and worship and religious activity generally. This is a view…[that] can lead, of course, to great rebellion against the truth….

We will never be where we ought to be until we go back to those old paths and learn to find God. [Then] we will cease to be bored with God….[W]e will center our affections upon God and Christ…and become specialists and experts in the realm of the spiritual life.

It is amazing how little outside stimulus we need if we have that inward stimulus. It is amazing how much God will meet our needs. It will not be God and something else. It will be God everything.

And then, wisely, we will gear into our times…and in a moment we will become…alert to the needs of the world around us….[A]t the same time, our great anchor will be God above.

… God [will] be enough. TSS164-166

May God give us the courage to be obedient to His truths in this tragic, critical and dangerous hour in which we live. TSS166

Subdued Puppies?

For Yahweh takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with salvation.—Psalm 149:4

Part of Christ’s prescription for happiness is “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Mt 5:5, KJV). How we have shied away from that word “meek.” We have thought of meekness as a weakness and thus have a totally wrong concept of what Jesus meant. The Amplified Bible translates it thus: “Blessed are the meek (the mild, patient, longsuffering), for they shall inherit the earth.” The dictionary defines “meek” as “humble, compliant, and submissive”. Does this mean that Jesus expects the children of the kingdom to be like subdued puppies who crawl into their master’s presence and cower at his feet? Or to become the type of people who lack inner fortitude and gumption, who can be easily pushed around and manipulated?

The truly meek person—in the biblical sense of the word—is not timid, shy, hesitant, and unassuming, but trusting, confident, and secure. The root meaning of the word “meekness” is that of yieldedness or surrender—a characteristic without which no real progress can be made in the Christian life. What happens, for example, to the scientist who approaches the mysteries of the universe in a spirit of meekness? He finds its richest secrets unfolding themselves to him, and he is able to harness the mighty forces around him to advantage. The Christian who approaches life in the same spirit—the spirit of meekness and submission—discovers the true meaning of his existence and the purpose of God in all his affairs.


Gracious Father, help me to understand clearly the difference between meekness and weakness. And show me how to apply this principle in all I say and in all I do. This I ask in Christ’s powerful and precious name. Amen.

Further Study

Jms 1:12-21; Zph 2:3; Gl 5:22-23; 1Pt 3:4

What are we to receive with meekness?

Does the biblical definition of meekness fit you?


“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work,” Jesus told them.John 4:34

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we see a marked difference between His priorities and the concerns of His disciples. The disciples were often preoccupied with how to meet their physical needs (Matt. 14:15–17; John 4:8; Luke 18:28). Jesus repeatedly assured them that the Father knew their needs and would provide (Luke 11:11–13). Jesus stressed that their priority was to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”; the necessities of daily life would be provided (Matt. 6:33).

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, His disciples had gone into a nearby town to get food. While His disciples were seeking earthly nourishment, Jesus was giving this woman “living water” that would satisfy her soul for eternity. When they returned, the disciples urged Jesus to eat. He replied that His “food” was to do the will of His Father. Since their attention was on earthly matters, His disciples misunderstood His reply. Jesus’ very life came from obeying His Father. Because of Jesus’ obedience that day, the woman received eternal life. In her excitement, she brought many others to Jesus to hear for themselves, and many believed that He was indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world (John 4:39–42).

The apostle Paul understood what Jesus had been teaching His disciples. When Paul wrote to the believers in Rome, he stressed that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men” (Rom. 14:17–18).

When Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread, Jesus quoted the Scriptures, summarizing the focus of His life and ministry: “Know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut. 8:3).