Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Looking Ahead with Purpose

     Christmas has passed.  The company has gone home, and all that remains is to take down the decorations.  As we put away our nativity set, we need to remember not to pack up our sense of joy and wonder that we experience as we hear the Gospel story of our Savior's birth again.  Instead, we need to nurture our love for the Lord as we prepare to enter a new year.
     How easy it is for us to think that Christmas is the end game forgetting that we are about to celebrate the dawn of 2016 with the opportunity to grow in Christ and walk daily with Him as He leads us.  Believers, we need to be among those who celebrate with praise our heavenly Father who is about to open a new chapter in our lives.  Think about it.  None of us has ever experienced 2016 before.  What has God planned for us that we might glorify Him?  There are several ways we can prepare for the adventure that lies ahead.
     First, consider a Bible reading plan for the New Year.  Ligonier Ministries has several different plans listed that can assist us to read the Bible.  These plans are free and available online.  The more we find ourselves looking into God's Word the more we will get to know His character and come to trust Him more deeply.  Likewise, the Bible is profitable for correction, training, reproof and instruction in righteousness, it is a valuable tool in the hands of a man/woman of God (2 Timothy 3:16).  In fact Ephesians calls the Bible the "sword of the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:17).  With this sword, we can demolish the strongholds and vain imaginations that set themselves up against the true knowledge of God  (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).  Who among us would ever go to battle without a powerful weapon for our defense?  This is why it is so important to start the New Year on the right foot.
     Secondly, we need to be men and women of prayer as we come to the new opportunities that lie ahead of us.  Only the Lord knows the plans He has for us.  Therefore, it would seem wise to seek His guidance and blessing.  Jesus set a blessed example for us to follow throughout His days of ministry.  He took the time to get alone with the Father, and in that time, He was refreshed and ready again to carry out His mission to us.  I like to think of prayer as a refueling process.  Coming into the Father's presence recharges our thinking as well as our souls.  There is no greater privilege that we can enjoy than to spend time with our heavenly Father.
     As we prepare to welcome the New year, we need to also ask the Lord to fill us with His Spirit.  Ephesians tells us in 5:18:  "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,"  The Holy Spirit is our comforter, teacher, and works in us to sanctify our lives.  He convicts us of sin, leads us into righteousness and produces fruit in our lives.  Could there be any greater joy or fulfillment?  The Spirit comes into our lives when we become believers in Christ.  However, daily we need to pray for God to fill us to overflowing so that streams of living water pour out of us and touch others.
     Finally, in Ephesians 5:19, we read that we are to speak to one another in Psalms and sing hymns and spiritual songs.  This speaks of encouragement, praise to God and lifting up one another.  Entering a New Year with a thankful heart is so much better than a hangover.  Self-medicating is so empty compared to building one another up by meditating on what God says about us.
     New Year's can be even more exciting when we consider how we approach this time of new beginnings.  Just as Jesus did not remain a baby in a manger but grew in favor with God and man so we grow up in Him this coming year through Bible study, prayer, being filled with the Holy Spirit and praising God.  We can make a difference by putting on a servant's heart and embracing all the opportunities that another year brings.  On New Year's Eve let us enter God's courts with thanksgiving in our heart!  In doing this, we are storing up treasures in heaven where none can take them from us.  Selah!

           HAPPY NEW YEAR IN CHRIST!                                                                    

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