Sunday, January 1, 2012

Packing Away the Old Year and Welcoming the New

     As is our custom, we packed up our Christmas ornaments this past weekend.  I am one of those people who do not like to have their lights and decorations up well after the holidays.  Of course, taking down the tree always tugs at my heartstrings as I look at each of the decorations I am carefully packing away.  There are pictures of our children smiling on some of the ornaments that they made in Sunday School.  How did they grow up so fast?  Then, there was the precious cornhusk doll figure of a mother holding a baby given to me by my dearest friend before she moved away.  I have kept the box she gave it to me in and the letter she penned so many years ago when we were both young mothers.  It is a treasure, so I stop and pray for her.  Still another hand stitched ornament reflects the friendship my husband and I had with a couple who was a part of our wedding.  She was a talented woman whose life was cut short by a tragic car accident a number of years ago.  Then, there are the very old glass ornaments passed on to me from my mother, and as I pack them in my boxes, a flood of memories come rushing in of family Christmases long ago.  Indeed, our Christmas tree holds a treasure trove of memories and reflects the people who mean so much to us.  However, this is part of life.  We pack away our symbols of faith for next year's celebration, but we never pack away our faith as we welcome the new year.
Looking far below from Eagle's Nest near Munich, Germany.
God can give us this perspective in the new year if we seek to stir up our gifts.
     While the Christmas decorations are safely stored and the new calendars are up on the wall, it is time for us to think about the exciting adventures awaiting us in this new year.  If anything, the good will, joy, hope and peace we feel at Christmas time should spur us on to live even more for the Savior born in a stable.  We must not allow the every day routine which follows the holidays to keep us from using the gifts which Christ has given to us.  Instead we must seek new ways to be used by God for His glory in this new year.
     In his letter to Timothy, the young pastor whom Paul ordained (I Timothy 4:14) along with other elders, he encourages Timothy to stir up the gift which God had given to him:  "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control" (2 Timothy 1:6-7).  Several commentaries indicate that this verse speaks about kindling the flame of faith or adding fuel to the fire in Timothy's life as it relates to using his gift.  It also pertains to us.  According to the Bible, each of us has received gifts from God when we became a believer.  The Lord has not only given us the Holy Spirit as a seal of our faith, but He has also equipped us for service.  We must add fuel to the fire in order to serve God with excellence in this new year.
     According to "Barnes' Notes on the Bible", the author says:  "However  rich the gifts which God has bestowed upon us, they do not grow of their own accord, but need to be cultivated by our own personal care" (  We must feed our faith on a daily basis in order to fan the flame which God has ignited in our soul.  Bible study, prayer and regular fellowship with other believers in corporate worship help us to do this, but we must also exercise the gift or gifts which God has given to us.
My husband saying, "Which way do we go?" in the Swiss
Mountains near Zurich.  This is a good question for us as well.
It is not unlike exercising our muscles.  We know how out of shape we can get when we neglect regular exercise, and the same is true when we do not use the gifts which God has given to us.  If we have been called to teach, we should do so with joy.  If we are called to preach, we need to speak forth the Word with boldness.  No matter what our calling in the Lord, we are to use it for His glory and fuel it by growing in our faith.
     This past year with its ups and downs has been packed away like my Christmas decorations, but the new year is in front of us and we should welcome the opportunities it presents.  As Paul admonished Timothy, we are to remember that "God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self control."  Therefore, we need to stir up our gifts and use them to His glory not looking back on the old year past, but seizing upon the adventures in faith that lie ahead for each of us.  Then, when Christmas time rolls around again, we will have many more wonderful memories to hang upon the tree of our life as we live to serve Christ our Lord.  May you and your family be blessed in this new year as you use your gifts for His great glory!  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts and insights here.  Please leave them as encouragement for others to read and be blessed.


Christina said...

Amen! Let it be so!

And you are one disciplined woman, Barbara! My tree and decorations are still up! I had noble intentions of pulling it all down today but after the women's Bible study my motivation level was exceedingly diminished! LOL! Maybe tomorrow?

have a beautiful Lord's Day tomorrow!

Much love

Barbara Thayer said...

LOL! My discipline is better in some things than in others dear sister! But never fear....tomorrow is another day....and time enough for you to get your decorations down. I pray your Bible study went well and that hearts left burning with new insight! Praise God for your faithful ministry. Blessings to you on the Lord's Day tomorrow as well.