Happy New Year! I can’t believe 2018 is done and we are ready to embark on 2019. At this time of year we wonder what the year will bring- changes in places, people, relationships and even jobs. It is a good time to take a closer look at our relationship with God and reevaluate our commitment and devotion to Him. God never changes. Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Psalm 33:11, “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” These are just a few verses that reassure us that God is immutable and never changes. Knowing that fact about God, we can look more closely at ourselves, our attitudes and actions.
How do I remain faithful to a faithful God? God reassured the children of Israel when they were taken into captivity in Babylon that He would be their sanctuary. He alone would hold them steady in faith. Ezekiel 11:19 “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,” God promises to put a new spirit within us and remove our heart of stone- attitudes of rebellion, faithlessness, unbelief, despair, rejection…. God can and will remove those from you and give you a NEW SPIRIT for the New Year. He will give you a heart that is loving, compassionate, believing, and filled with hope. How do you get this new heart and spirit? In Christ alone our hope is found. 1 John 5:11-12 describe our hope. “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” Belief in Jesus, commitment to Him in gratitude and service is a place to begin. Repentance of past sins and asking forgiveness brings us to our knees and realigns our hearts with Him.
Celebrate your life in Christ, your hope in Christ and be assured that God will give you a new heart and a new spirit to live triumphantly in Him this year! 2019 Bring it on! We’re ready with a repentant heart looking to our Savior.
On this last day of 2018, we conclude with the final chorus of the Messiah. The scene is the throne room of heaven in John’s vision and Jesus is being praised and worshiped. Revelation 5:9-13
9 And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
They begin by singing a new song. In the Old Testament, a new song was sung to celebrate and act of divine deliverance or blessing. Here the creatures and angels are praising Jesus, the Lamb, who delivered all mankind through his blood. Jesus is worthy to receive all power, wealth, wisdom, honor and blessing because of the ransom He paid with His blood on the cross. All heaven and earth will praise Him! What a glorious scene this will be. Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, is Worthy of all Praise!
And so… what a fitting way to end our year. Let us praise our Savior and Redeemer. Let your lips utter praise today for all this last year has brought both good and bad. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Ponder the difficulties you’ve had in your life this year in light of James 1:2-4 “2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Let us take the adversity we experienced and the blessings we received and offer them up to Jesus today as and offering of praise and thanksgiving.
The Conclusion of the Messiah
Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor – December 7, 1941. It began 77 years ago at 7:55 am. If you have visited the Memorial over the sunken Arizona where the sailors are still entombed, you are sobered by their sacrifice. War is a terrible thing yet through it men rise to honor and sacrifice for their fellow men. Over 2,400 were killed and 1,000 wounded that day. The most causalities occurred on the USS Arizona as it was hit 4 times by Japanese bombers. A piece of trivia- 37 confirmed pairs or trios of brothers were assigned to the Arizona and this battle cost 62 of these 77 men their lives and 23 sets of brothers died. I can’t imagine the grief those families suffered all in one day. President Franklin D. Roosevelt described it as “a date that will live in infamy.” Just like September 11, 2001 will live on in our minds so should December 7th.
Say a prayer of gratitude today for the sacrifices these men and those brave men and women who continue to sacrifice their lives, time, talents and family time for our freedom.
Seeking to honor their sacrifice and service.
I was thinking this morning about the designation ‘Black Friday’. It seems that since the 1950’s the day after Thanksgiving has been called ‘Black Friday’. It began as a term to describe the crowds, like the street was black with pedestrians. It then became a day to retailers signifying when they began to turn a profit and moved from the ‘red’ into the ‘black’ as the volume of their sales increased. In the Bible the blackest Friday would be the day of the crucifixion. It was the day when the skies turned black and darkness covered the land. “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46 The blackness of that Friday is a picture of the sin that Jesus bore on the cross for you and me. His death was the darkest day that brought the greatest profit for us. John 12:46 puts it in perspective for us as to why that blackest of Friday’s had to happen. “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”
Even on that blackest of Fridays, the people were rushing around preparing for their Sabbath. Since they could do no work on the Sabbath, they rushed to get Jesus down from the cross, hastily buried and settled in a borrowed tomb. Mark 15:42-47 describes these events done in haste. After the Sabbath was over, several women came back to the tomb to anoint Jesus with spices as his burial had been done in such a hurry they felt they had not been able to treat his body properly on that Friday. “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.” Mark 16:1 Their walk to the grave site was done in sadness but their return was joyous as the learned of Jesus’ resurrection and defeat of sin and death. An angel spoke to them when they got there, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” What joyous news they had to share!
That blackest of Friday bringing death to Jesus and a hasty burial brought the greatest profit to you and me. Colossians 1:21-22 explains where we were on the black Friday and where we are now because of it. “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” That was the the biggest gain or profit for mankind ever in history. Christ reconciled us to God so that we can be in communion with Him and have our sin’s forgiven. We are free to live a life in Christ that is pleasing to God that is free from the penalty of death brought on by sin. That Black Friday was the best one in history for you and me.
As you venture out today to do some shopping, think about that blackest of Friday’s and how much you gained through Christ. Praise Him as you do.
“Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.” 1 Chronicles 16:8
This is a great way to view the opportunities we have a Thanksgiving time to share with our family and friends the many things God has done for us during the year. Going around the table and naming our thanks, putting words to what our hearts know gives glory to God as we praise Him.
Here is another verse to stimulate your thankfulness- Hebrews 12:28 “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.” Spend time thinking about the unshakable kingdom we have access to through Jesus. His kingdom is without end, holy and pure, a place of hope and security, a place of worship and love, unchanging and permanently held in place by God, ordered and governed by righteousness and presided over by Jesus. Having head and heart knowledge of God’s glorious kingdom leads us to praise and worship that is filled with reverence and amazement. I am always brought to my knees when I consider the power and greatness of my Savior. His sacrifice was great so that I may know and experience His kingdom during my life now and into the future.
As we approach this wonderful holiday time, take time to put words and thoughts to your thanks both to your family and to God. Thank Him for all He has done, is doing and will do for you. He is an awesome God worthy of all our praises!
I am currently reading All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque with a student. It graphically describes the horrors of WWI as seen through the eyes of a young German soldier. Most of us read this in High School and could not relate to what the author was saying. We were too young and inexperienced to realize the truth of the characters experiences. Nothing adequately describes the horrors of war and its aftermath in the mind and soul of the individual. November 11th is set aside for the specific remembrance -the 11th month, 11th day at the 11th hour the armistice was signed ending WWI, named the war to end all wars, and yet it did not. Scripture tells us there will we wars and rumors of wars until the end of time. Today we remember those who served and those who died in any war or conflict with grateful hearts.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are some pictures of the beaches and cemetery at Normandy. This was place of great sacrifice during World War II. Thank you to each Veteran on this Veteran’s Day for your service and the sacrifice of all those who have died to preserve our freedoms. I am most grateful.
In John 15:13 Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”. (NIV) These brave men and women paid the ultimate price and they did not even know me. I am humbled by their patriotism and sacrifice on my behalf.
I want to wish each of you a Happy 4th. The 4th of July is a favorite holiday filled with family BBQ’s, games, swimming, picnicking, corn on the cob, apple pie and fireworks. But as you know, the 4th is more than that to each of us. America and the freedom it represents and holds for each of us was bought with a price- sacrifice, hope and struggle by those that went before us and those that labored to secure our freedom. Our struggle over the centuries has been to secure,defend and maintain freedom of religion, peace, prosperity and hope for us and our children. We desire to live in an unbiased, loving and accepting society. Is this possible? Actually I believe it is not possible without Christ. He is the one who can make all things right and gives us the power to love and live in harmony with others.
Today’s thoughts of freedom bring me to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and Galatians 5:1. Paul was teaching the Corinthians how to live together in harmony and purity. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own: you have been bought at price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Paul was reminding the Galatians what they had in Christ. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves by burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Christ died for us so that we might be free from sin and its bondage and have the ability to live lives that honor Him. The cross was the ultimate sacrifice for us. Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He bought us with a price, his life. He redeemed us from sin’s ultimate consequence-death. My freedom in Christ was bought with the price of His life on the cross.
I have FREEDOM in Christ- freedom from my sins, freedom to live for Him, freedom from eternal death and freedom to live with Him for eternity. Just as we are thankful for those who died to secure the freedom we have in America, we need to be thankful for the freedom we have in Christ alone. He is the one who secures it all and brings us to the place where we can enjoy freedom.
Today as you are thankful for America, think also of the greater freedom you have though Christ and say a prayer of Thanks to Jesus.
Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor – December 7, 1941. It began 76 years ago at 7:55 am. If you have visited the Memorial over the sunken Arizona where the sailors are still entombed, you are sobered by their sacrifice. War is a terrible thing yet through it men rise to honor and sacrifice for their fellow men. Over 2,400 were killed and 1,000 wounded that day. The most causalities occurred on the USS Arizona as it was hit 4 times by Japanese bombers. A piece of trivia- 37 confirmed pairs or trios of brothers were assigned to the Arizona and this battle cost 62 of these 77 men their lives and 23 sets of brothers died. I can’t imagine the grief those families suffered all in one day. President Franklin D. Roosevelt described it as “a date that will live in infamy.” Just like September 11, 2001 will live on in our minds so should December 7th.
Say a prayer of gratitude today for the sacrifices these men and other brave men who continue to sacrifice their lives, time, talents and family time for our freedom.
Seeking to honor their sacrifice and service.
As we ponder the significance of 9/11 today, what comes to your mind? This is the 16th year anniversary of that tragic attack on the twin towers in NY and the Pentagon. Many of those alive today have no memory of that horrific day and those terrifying events. The same could be said for December 7th and the attack on Pearl Harbor. Both bring extreme sadness at the unnecessary loss of innocent lives, the aftermath of the events and their impact on families, the nation and our way of life. A great sense of invasion and insecurity looms in my mind.
As I looked back, two years ago on 9/11 my new book, Promises for Dynamic Living arrived. The arrival of a new book you’ve written is a momentous time for an author. At the heart of this book is hope and security. God’s Word provides us with an anchor for our souls in Christ and redemption though His work on the cross. Knowing promises our Heavenly Father has made to us, gives me hope as I know He is eternal and always faithful to keep His promises. He promised to send a savior and He did in the person of His own Son- Jesus. What hope we have in Christ! He fulfilled all the promises in the Bible about himself and all questions about redemption are Yes in Him. We do not need to fear for our future as it is guaranteed by Christ himself.
So what of 9/11 and those fears and insecurities? Turn them over to Jesus and depend upon Him in all things. We can cling to Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Nahum 1:7 “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” Isaiah 26:3-4 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” I pray one of these verses gives you added hope in Jesus today.
Living in a troubled world with HOPE,
A study in God’s Word that will bring you hope and assurance for living in a troubled world. Available on Amazon or at Certa Publishing.