Ephesians 5:20 ” Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

As we come to the very last day of 2022, I’d like for you to look back for a moment…not with regret but with gratitude. Now you may say there’s nothing to be grateful about, but in this Scripture we are told to be thankful for everything…and that means every thing you’ve gone through this past year. Colossians 3:16 chides us to have gratitude in our hearts… not bitterness, strife, or anger. I know you can find many things to be appreciative of as you think back over the year…and as you do, your heart will be filled with thankfulness & praise.

Proverbs 3:5-6 ” Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

Oswald Chambers once penned, “Faith never knows where it’s being led, but it loves and knows the One Who is leading.” We all don’t know what the new year will bring us, but we can all be certain of one thing…God already knows & has prepared the way. Our responsibility is to trust and obey. In other words, to fear the Lord. Now the fear of the Lord isn’t distrustful terror of Him, but rather reverent awe & worshipful response of confidence, dependence, and assurance that He desires only the very best for us. Look around, what else can you place your trust in today? Nothing else can offer the rock solid reliance of God…not wealth & riches, power & authority, not even your own discernment & intellect can be trusted like Him. God wants to lead you in the way of righteousness today…will you allow Him to guide you?

Lamentations 3:23 ” Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.”

There’s only a few more days left in 2022, and your mind may be filled with regrets of all the unfulfilled promises you made to yourself this time last year. Promises of losing weight, eating healthier, or exercising more…or it might have been to stop smoking, or drinking alcohol, or seeking treatment for substance abuse. You might have promised yourself that you were not going allow that certain family member to push your buttons, or that you’d forgive others more. Then again, your pledge might have been to God Himself…vows for getting back into the Word daily & praying more. But regrets can’t change the past, and all our remorse for not accomplishing what we set out to do only makes us feel sorry for ourselves. So instead, we need to have a conversation…with ourselves & God…a poignant heart-to-heart, filled with truth, accountability, repentance, & a change in attitude. This wonderful Scripture in Lamentations shows us God’s unending compassion towards us that will never be consumed by His wrath. Or as Psalm 30:5 says, “For His anger is but for a moment, and His favor is for a lifetime.” Regrets don’t change anything…only repentance can.

Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”

I call them the “What ifs”. Those thoughts that invade your mind and won’t let you sleep at night. So as we wind down this year & look ahead to the next, let’s look at some of these thoughts and the Scripture to counteract them. Fear & confusion are a huge mind set to battle…but I John 4:18 tells us that there is no fear in love, and God’s perfected love casts out fear as we continually walk with Him. Abandonment issues, either real or perceived, can cause us to feel alone and forsaken…but Jesus (whose name means God with us) tells us in Matthew 28:20 that He is always with us. Maybe it’s shame & guilt that keeps you awake at night. Romans 8:1 reminds us that there’s no condemnation for those who trust in Jesus. He loves you just as you are…no judgment. Helplessness, powerlessness, or emotions of no control over our life can make us feel like there’s no way out…no escape except to die. I then urge you to reach out to the Body of Believers. Philippians 4:3 calls on fellow Believers to gather together to help & reconcile…but you need to be brave enough to tell someone. Finally it could be invalidation & worthlessness that torments you. II Corinthians 5:21 shows us that as Christians we have been made righteous through Christ, and in God’s eyes we are valuable, cherished & worthy. So no matter the “What if”, there’s always the Word to cling to, for as Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…”, we can rest assured that the overwhelming power of God will always carry out His gracious, all-wise plan in our lives.

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach the Throne of grace with confidence…”

As we soon end the year of 2022 and look forward, for many it is with uncertainty. You may not have confidence about your job continuing into the new year. There may be instability in your current living situation. A long-term relationship may have become fickle & volatile. But there is one certainty you can be assured of…one person of whom will never change. I Samuel 15:29 tells us, “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change His mind; for He isn’t a man that He should change His mind.” Or as James 1:17 says, God doesn’t change…” Therefore, even if this coming new year is filled with doubt, we can have confidence that God is always there…dependable, reliable, & unfailing in His love for us. And so I pray that as you move into 2023, you may stand firm, mature, and fully assured in all the Will of God. (Colossians 4:12)

I John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Walking in the light is walking in God’s ways. It’s fellowshipping not only with Jesus Christ, but with other Believers in true joy and love. Isaiah 2:5 tells us to, “Walk in the light of the Lord.” For when we obediently walk in His light, we receive the true revelation about who Jesus is and His work within us. For the past year I’ve been walking outside for a hour everyday, but now that Winter is here it’s too cold & snowy to walk safely. And so committed daily walks have become hard, and I’m really good at making excuses why I shouldn’t walk on the treadmill. But in reality, I’m only allowing my selfish comfort to overrule the discipline I know I need in order to maintain good health. It’s the same with my walk with God, it takes obedience, discipline, focus, and consistency as I walk in the light of His truth.

Merry Christmas

On this early Christmas morn, before the hub-bub starts…think of this. Jesus came to earth to save you. He took on flesh…fully man, but fully God. Infinite but yet a tiny infant. Eternal, yet born of an ordinary woman. The Lord Almighty, yet utterly dependent on His mother. Bearing the weight of the entire universe on His shoulders, yet needing to be carried in His mother’s arms. Heir of all things, both on earth & in heaven, yet a lowly carpenter’s son. Jesus Christ willingly gave up His glory in order that you may be saved from your sins. The greatest Christmas present you’ll ever receive was born today in Bethlehem, and Jesus was His Name.

“If Jesus Christ was born in a manger in a rock, why should He not come and live in our rocky hearts? If He was born in a stable, why shouldn’t the stable of our souls be made into a habitation for Him? If He was born into poverty, may not the poor in Spirit expect that He will be their friend?” Charles Spurgeon

This Christmas Eve, let’s put away all the excuses for not saying yes to Jesus, as Charles Spurgeon did here. A hardened heart can’t respond to God, but He’s promised us in Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new Spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” That’s right, God will provide a new heart & Spirit within us… working from the inside out, changing us into His image. And in this process we can put on our new self…a new habitation for the Holy Spirit to dwell in. Colossians 3:10 tells us, “You’ve taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Finally, Jesus purposely gave up His heavenly glory to live as one of us…the Rich One impoverishing Himself in order to enrich us. This is made clear in II Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” To the world, you may not have anything…but when you say yes to Christ & His gift of eternal life, you possess everything.

Luke 2:19 ” Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

An angel of the Lord had appeared to the shepherds proclaiming the birth of the Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Suddenly there was a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God…filling the nighttime sky with a glorious spectacle. The shepherds immediately journeyed to Bethlehem, found the baby Jesus, and bore testimony to what they saw and heard out on the mountain side. Mary listened to it all, marveling & reflecting on what the angel had told her months before. Later, when Jesus was twelve, the family traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover and when it was time to go home, they unwittily left Him behind. When they finally found Jesus in the Temple courts with the Teachers His answer was, ” Why were you searching for Me? Didn’t you know I had to be in My Father’s house?” Again we see Mary treasuring all these things…laying them up in her heart & mind. Was it an affirmation of her faith for Mary to hear Jesus express His awareness of His filial relationship with God for the first time? Did she contemplate & cherish the details of Jesus’ ministry as she watched people healed & set free? And later, was it a careful keeping and holding on to precious memories as Mary watched the crowd crucify her firstborn son? Mary may not have fully understood…but her heart was full of her son.

Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”

Prince of Peace…this is what Isaiah called Him. In Micah 5:5 it tells us that Jesus Christ will be our peace…providing completely for our wellbeing and security. But what about when trials & tribulations come into our lives? Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “Trusting in Jesus Christ my Savior, there is still a blessed quietness in the deep caverns of my soul, though upon the surface, a rough tempest may be raging, and there may be little apparent calm.” We have an eternal refuge in Jesus and a peace that guards our hearts and minds in the midst of the storms of life. For as Isaiah 53:5 says, “His punishment that brought us peace was upon Him and by His wounds we are healed.” That’s right, His sufferings on the Cross removed and undid the penalty of sin & death…and gave us peace. Or as Jeremiah 33:6 reminds us, “I will heal My people and will let them enjoy abundant peace & security.” Jesus Christ is our peace…may you experience that blessed quietness today.

%d bloggers like this: