Do you need His promise this next year?
God’s promises in His Word are our best hedge against discouragement and unbelief.
With this new year right here before us, we look to the Bible for direction by meditating on God’s Word:
A NEW YEAR BEGINNING
“This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.” ~Exodus 12:2
NEW BIRTH – A LIVING HOPE
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us [new birth](http://christianity.about.com/od/christiandoctrines/a/newbirth.htm) into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” ~1 Peter 1:3
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” ~Proverbs 16:9
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” ~Jeremiah 29:11
“You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.” ~Psalm 65:11
A NEW CREATION
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” ~2 Corinthians 5:17
A NEW HEART
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so you will obey my laws and do whatever I command.” ~Ezekiel 36:25-27
FORGETTING THE PAST
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” ~Philippians 3:13-14
LEARNING FROM PAST MISTAKES
“Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” ~Hebr. 12:10-11
WAIT ON THE LORD
“Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.” ~Psalm 37:7 (NLT)
“Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” ~Isaiah 40:3
GOD’S TIMING IS PERFECT
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” ~Ecclesiastes 3:11
EACH NEW DAY IS SPECIAL
“The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” ~Lamentations 3:22-24
DON’T LOOK BACK
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” ~Isaiah 43:18-19
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” ~Matthew 5:16
NOW IS THE TIME
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” ~Psalm 90:12
HEALTHY SPIRITUAL HABITS
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” ~Hebrews 10:24-25
A ROAD MAP
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” ~Proverbs 3:5-6
“…make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” ~2 Peter 1:3-10
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” ~Psalm 34:8
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”~Romans 12:1
So let’s continually dwell on the rich, soul-filling Word of God! Have a blessed New Year!
Growing in Trust
Trusting God does not guarantee the absence of trials or difficult times. ([John 16:33](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+16&version=ESV)), but it does mean that in the midst of those hard times, or moments where you don’t feel like you can trust people or circumstances, we can lean into and trust Jesus. Being reminded by his words in the bible, that God is big enough and Sovereign to use hard circumstances for our good ([Romans 8:28](https://biblia.com/bible/esv/Rom%208.28)). It means we can abide in him ([John 15](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+15&version=ESV)) through prayer and time spent simply being with him.
Trusting God means we are free to die to ourselves ([Colossians 3:3](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=colossians+3&version=ESV)) by laying our fears and insecurities at the foot of the cross, and trusting that we are loved, valued, forgiven, redeemed, sanctified, and secure in Him. It’s in light of what Jesus achieved on the cross for us that we can now live and learn to trust God.
Try these daily quick tips to help us lean on the Lord and trust Him:
1. Don’t depend on you—see Prov 3:5
2. Look to God—see Prov 3:6 and Ps 55:17
3. Turn away from evil—see Prov 3:7
4. Put God first—see Prov 3:9-10
5. Check yourself by God’s Word—see Prov 3:11
6. Listen to Holy Spirit—see John 14:26
7. Rest in God’s Love—see Prov 3:12 & Matt 28:20b
I came across an article on 5 ways to grow and build trust in your work environment.
Be honest; Communicate Frequently; Build strategic alliances; Mend fences; Service what you sell.
Glancing through the article I couldn’t help but think about my relationship with God and how to increase my trust in Him. Then I realised, that it really isn’t much different.
If I am honest with myself and God I am going to understand my need for Him much easier. I will know my limitations and look to Him instead of pretending I can do it.
Communicate Frequently—well when it’s with God we call it Prayer. Frequency is the key, plus remembering it is a two way passage. Cos it is easy to forget that when I bring my list, I also need to bring my quiet heart so He can speak with me.
Build Strategic Alliances– this is just a fancy way of saying, plan well and don’t forget to include others. God calls us to be the body of Christ. We all have a part to play and we should know what we are about and get in and do it, but do it united so we achieve His will.
Mend Fences; I think of this as seeking forgiveness. Own up for my mistakes, don’t blame others or circumstances. Wear it, state it, fix it. If someone has hurt me, then I need to be ready to forgive them, just as I want to be forgiven.
Service what you sell—In other words I need to live up to my promises and walk the talk. In Matt 7 Jesus talks about being wary of false prophets and that we will know them by their fruits. Fruit of the Holy Spirit should be evident in my life. Jesus also said that by showing my love for others will allow them to know that I belong to Him.
So how do I increase my trust in Jesus? In short, be honest with God and talk to him regularly. Don’t rely on myself or my own understanding as God’s ways are not our ways. Strive to see things through God’s eternal perspective and allow Him to show me the right path. When (not if) I get it wrong, repent and ask for forgiveness. Live allowing God’s love and spirit to work through me.
Let’s work on it together!
Thoughtful Word: Courage
As Christmas time approaches we reflect and remember the events leading up to Jesus’ birth. When we think of Mary being spoken to by an angel she was ‘greatly troubled’ (Luke 1:29) and rightly so! Not only is a spiritual being in her presence, the message is totally unexpected and would be a shock to say the least. But the message for Mary was one offering peace and affirmation with the task that was before her. ‘Do not be afraid. You have found favour with God’.
Our hearts can stir with the stories of courageous people in the Bible, and we can admire them for their actions. Courage is needed when the task is big and some tasks, like Mary’s, were immense! But that is all well and good for those in the Bible, right? That was just a few special people that God chose to be courageous, to step out in His strength, in faith, and do what He appointed. Yes, God did appoint people to be courageous in the Bible, but guess what—He calls us today too! Courage has always been and always will be a necessary quality among the people of God. Standing for righteousness in a society that accommodates itself to evil takes courage. Spreading the true Gospel of Jesus Christ in a culture that wants to say any religion will do, takes courage. Allegiance to Jesus Christ in a world that is often against Christ, takes courage. Ignoring the negative nagging thoughts of doom that plague your mind, takes courage.
However, whatever the task that is before us Jesus says to us, His followers— “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32) Such words from Jesus and the Angel that spoke to Mary are comforting—As God’s followers, we are loved, favoured, blessed with His many gifts and the biggest treasure of all, eternal accommodation in the Kingdom of God. We can take courage and stand up and be the people we are called to be! Let’s do it, do it together and do it courageously.
O Lord, I know there are issues to face, temptations to withstand, and enemies to meet. Give me a courageous heart, that I may be firm in my obedience. For Jesus' sake, Amen
On Wednesday (27th) it will be 1 month until Christmas! Adults will be thinking ‘oh no, I’m not ready’. But kids! They get expectancy better than anyone else. Everyday they will be counting down the days, they can’t wait to find out what will be under the tree!
Do you know what the Bible calls joy-filled expectancy? Faith! We are expecting God to do something good...even though it might seem impossible. Guess what we lose the older we get? Yep, you guessed it...Joy-filled expectancy. We lose the sense that the future will be merry and bright. We don’t live with hope and joy, we live with fear and doubt. This Christmas let’s change that, let’s get back that joy and hope.
I’m sure you are waiting on something, not something under a tree...but for something you would trade everything the world sells for. Maybe you’re waiting for someone to change, or to find out if you’ll have a job in the New Year, or on a doctor’s report, or waiting to see if your marriage will make it. This Christmas, try something different. Look at whatever you’re facing, not with fear and worry but with hopeful expectancy. Ps 5:3 ‘In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.’ David, the author whose prayer is basically “God here is what’s going on and I’m just giving it to you because I can’t do anything about it and I can’t wait to see what you are going to do!”
Why don’t we live like that? Why don’t we live with hopeful expectancy when we are faced with difficult situations?
Maybe it is because we aren’t convinced God really does love us. If we really believed God loved us what would we be so worried about? Or if we know God loves us, do we live like He does. Living expectantly says God the choice is yours and I believe it’s a good one. I know you love me and you’ll take care of me.
As you prepare for Christmas may it be filled with Hope & Joy!
Jesus—Light of the World
John 8:12 ‘“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”
Here is another “I AM” statement from Jesus. This is Jesus saying it just like it is. It is a matter of fact. What does He mean when He says He is the Light? Again Jesus uses everyday things to explain eternal matters. Light was a powerful metaphor in Hebrew thinking, Psalm 84:11 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield;”
Light for a Jewish person was the ultimate ideal, a representation of salvation, knowledge and goodness. For Jesus to claim to be the ‘light of the world’ was no small thing. The Greek John 8:12 indicates Jesus’ claim to be ’the’ light not just ’a’ light. He is the single, solitary source of ’light’. Ok, so what does all this mean for us today? We don’t have to be a scientist to know that if it is dark, we automatically reach to turn on the light, for the simple reason—we just can’t see without the light. If one ‘Googled’ light you would read that “Light carries the energy required to sustain life on earth (photosynthesis). Light carries required information using which we can perceive things.”
What a great picture of Jesus!
He is the Sustain-er of our eternal life. He is the source for which we can perceive the things of God. He is the light that shines on us that exposes our need for Him. All the mess and damage (sin) becomes blatantly obvious. We simply need to acknowledge that we need Him, the One, the True, the Only, the Saviour, the Light of the world. Have you acknowledged your need for Him yet?
Thoughtful Word: The truth about Jesus Christ
(excerpts taken from olivetree.com/blog/the truth about Jesus Christ)
When you think about Jesus, do you think of a man gently petting a sheep? Do you think of a warrior on a white horse with a fire in his eyes? The truth about Jesus Christ is that He is all this and more.
For many people, Jesus is a figure from the past—someone to be admired as a great teacher, even a prophet. For others, He is someone to call upon in a crisis.
If we look at the Gospels, however a totally different picture emerges. Here is no ‘gentle Jesus meek and mild,’ but a person so dynamic and so inspiring that hard-bitten fishermen, tough tax collectors, Roman soldiers, and a man with one of the greatest intellects of his day—the apostle Paul—were all prepared to put their reputations and lives on the line in order to follow Him.
Why? It was the fact that they concluded, as Peter memorably did, that Jesus was ‘the Messiah, the Son of the living God’ (Matt 16:16) How did they reach this conclusion?
The disciples who worked with Him for 3 years would have seen and heard extraordinary claims He made for Himself. These would have been arrogant if they hadn’t been true. They would have heard His teaching, so authoritative that even the Jewish temple guards had to say ‘no one ever spoke the way this man does’ (John 7:46).
The Gospels gives us firsthand testimony about Jesus as evidence of His claims. And as no two witnesses will see something in exactly the same way, the supposed differences in the Gospels only serve to authenticate their veracity.
Jesus is not just a figure from the past.
He is alive today, still changing the lives of men, women, and children all over the world. He is not someone we can set aside—He demands our allegiance and our worship. In return He gives us a life in all it’s fullness– life that will last into eternity. Do you know Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God?
Thoughtful Word: Practical Tips for Prayer….continued from last week
· Don’t put a limit on your requests: Be willing to pray for big things. We serve a big God and His is able to do “more abundantly than all that we ask or think: (Eph 6:20) We need to come boldly before Him and ask.
· Pray the Bible: The Word of God is so important. Ask God to show you in His Word how to pray for people and things in your life.
· Look for answers: God answers prayer. Look for these answers and document them. It becomes a testimony of His grace and goodness as we acknowledge answered prayers. Isn’t it a comfort and joy to know that the God, creator of the universe is listening and responding?!
· Be consistent in your prayer life: Don’t let things derail your plans to spend time with God. Things will come up and it will be easy to put this time off. Don’t. As humans we need food, drink and sleep to survive. As Christians, we need prayer in the same way. Just do it.
· Be persistent: Don’t be afraid to pray the same prayers over and over again. In fact, the Bible says that persistence is important. Check out 1 Chron 16:11; Luke 18:1-8 as just two examples. We are to keep asking as asking focuses us on God.
· Document prayers and their answers: it can take discipline and whilst it’s not a requirement, it can be a tremendous blessing. Consider keeping a prayer journal. It can help with our focus, it’s a spot to keep the lists, as mentioned last week, and it helps us recognize the grace and power of God. Journaling can enrich your prayer life and drawer you closer to God.
Practical Tips for Prayer….
· Decide on a consistent time and place: Whilst we don’t need to be in a particular location, sometimes anywhere and any time can turn into nowhere and never. A scheduled time might be just what we need to ensure we are intentionally praying in our busy lives.
· Pray at any time and any place: having just read we should be consistent, it is also good to remember that we are called to pray without ceasing. So we don’t need to limit praying to just our committed time and place.
· Start and end with praise: How often do we come before God with our list of requests as our first item? God’s desire is for us to relate with Him worshipfully. When we offer our praise to Him for who He is, our hearts become orientated towards Him.
· Let God speak to you through His Word first: Wait, what? Aren’t we talking about praying? Yes, praying is when we talk to God. It’s one way-God doesn’t pray back to us. He does desire to speak to us, and the primary way He does that is through His Word, the Bible.
· Focus on spiritual needs before physical needs: We can still pray for jobs, health, provision etc, but first, we should pray for our spiritual health. Is there something we need to confess & repent of? Do we need help with our thoughts, actions, etc?
· Use a list as a Prayer Tool: it is easy for our minds to wander or go blank. Having a list helps us focus, we don’t need to limit our prayers to the list nor does the list need to be too descriptive, but it can be used as a prompt.