God of New Beginnings
Once a year, at midnight, a strange ritual takes place. From homes to hotels a shout goes up all over the world—“Happy New Year!” It’s another indelible sign we’re created in the image of a merciful God—the God of New Beginnings—of fresh starts. We realize once again God’s more concerned with our tomorrow than our yesterday. That’s why He’s slated finite time for now and infinite time—the eternal—for later. The Bible describes what’s taking place down here as a vapor, a moment; in Heaven things are everlasting—never-ending. Everything up there is forever new—new bodies; new surroundings, even new names. Yet, the joys of tomorrow can be accessed by faith today. Would you let Jesus give you a fresh start? Ask Him!
Yesterday Can’t Define You
Are you tired of your life? If you’re willing to give up the old, God will make your life new. Give up your tired, troubled perspective. Trade it in for the always hope-filled mind of Christ. Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63b) Let the Word of God give you the life your soul longs for. Step into eternity! Let the fears of yesterday be eclipsed by the faith of today and the hope of tomorrow. A change of heart and mind is all that’s needed; surrendering to the loving will of a gracious God. Your best days are ahead, if you want them to be. That was God’s plan from the beginning. It’s His flawless will for your life. Now, you have to decide if it’s your will as well.
God Makes All Things New
All of us have needs. Are you beginning this year in need a new job, a new body, or perhaps a new outlook on life? God alone has the means to fulfill all our needs. But remember, He promises to meet ALL our needs, not ALL of our wants. “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19) Why are so many of us fearful of the future? Do we really believe a faithful God will not let us down? He won’t! He promises,“‘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) God wants to make this your best year ever. Can you trust Him for that?
Are You Feeling Numb?
If you’re feeling emotionally and spiritually numb, you’re not alone. It’s an epidemic in our nation, our culture, and even the church. Perhaps we’re less numb then we used to be, or more alive then many around us, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re not as fully awake as God desires us to be. We live in the age of the fair-weather Christian, the Sunday believer—the undisciplined disciple. I see in my own life how I’ve grown to accept the unacceptable—to tolerate the intolerable. I must relearn to resist the devil and submit to God. Such was the scene when David faced the giant Goliath; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar, and Queen Esther said, “If I perish, I perish,” choosing to give her life in order to rescue her people. Let God awaken us to the battles we’re facing today!
Are You Looking For Truth?
Are you looking for truth that will set your free? All of us should be! But beware the counterfeit! Every day, attempts are being made to redefine what is good—to reinvent truth. Even using the words of Jesus out of context to promote self-serving philosophies, saying, “the truth will set you free,” as if any man-conceived concept of truth will work. Either truth is God-breathed, or it’s not truth at all. Jesus clearly defined the only truth that truly liberates. “He said to the people who believed in Him, ‘You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31–32, NLT) Accept no substitutes for the Holy Bible—it’s God’s Word for all generations.
Have you noticed it’s getting more inconvenient to be a follower of Jesus, that, as the darkness gets darker, it takes more courage to let your light shine? Don’t be discouraged, Jesus faced the same thing, and promised we would as well. He said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV) Christians who embrace Christ only when it’s convenient won’t be ready for the subtle deceptions ahead! But, if we humble ourselves daily and receive the manna of His Word, He’ll give us all the courage we need to face our struggles ahead. Today, may you be encouraged! May you walk in the confidence that if God is for you, who can be against you? (Romans 8:31)
Do You Feel Safe?
You may not feel safe or protected right now but never forget, God’s a perfect Father who is always ready to protect us. When my twin daughters were 12 years old and about to enter adolescence, I took them each out on a special dinner date in which I pledged to watch over them throughout their teen years. I gave them
beautiful rings to seal our father-daughter commitment. It was a very special night! Fifteen years later, they gave those rings back to me on their wedding days, as I gave their hands to their new protectors, their husbands. When I gave my life to Jesus, He promised to protect me from harm. Sure, at times I’ve been hurt, but in the end God’s always showed up to protect and heal me. If you’ll trust Him, He’ll do the same for you.
Are You Leading Your Family?
This is a very challenging day to lead a family. Isn’t it? But if you’re a parent, there’s still the question of whether or not you’re actually leading your family? If you’re not, who is? Are you letting strangers raise them? Are you letting amoral actors, musicians, and celebrities do with them as they wish? I think we all realize there are plenty of unhealthy people who, if allowed to, will do great damage to those we love. Either we lead our children as God intended, or we naively hand them over to others to raise them. The Bible says, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” (Proverbs 22:6, NLT) Ask God for His help. He’ll give you all of the wisdom and discernment you need to lead your family.
If there’s ever been a day in which we need to be courageous, it’s today. A young lady I highly respect was trying to get her fiancé, who was hesitating, to make the right decision. As she ran her hand down the middle of his back, she asked with concern, “What’s that?” He responded with equal unease, “I don’t know?” Then looking him in the eyes she retorted, “It’s a spine! You can use it any time you want to!” Ha! What a great line! The good news is, they’re happily married today with three children, and he’s become a great leader. Today, receive the courage that comes from God’s Word. “…God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2Timothy 1:7, NKJV)
Don’t Give Up On Those You Love
How do you help those you love who are resisting God’s will for their lives? It’s hard to watch, but God provides a clear solution—requiring patience and courage, but when received by a humble soul, His remedy is always successful. “Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.” (2Timothy 2:25–26) Frustration doesn’t move mountains, faith does! Trust God that His Word will not return empty, but will always accomplish what He promises it will do. (Isaiah 55:11) Don’t give up on those you love. Pray their eyes will be opened to see all that Jesus died and rose to give them.
The God of Happy Endings
Do you believe in the God of happy endings? Well . . . He believes in you. God the Father designed a rescue mission for His wayward children before we were even conceived. He planned for His own Son to make the greatest sacrifice of all: to willingly give His life in our place. Christ’s intervention has completely changed the potential outcome for each of our lives, if we’ll receive it. God is saving the best wine for last—a victorious finale to His perfect will for our lives. God’s Word promises, “…all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20, NLT) I’m glad I don’t have to think it up. All I have to do is believe it!
Learning to Feel Again
Why is much of the world numb? The Bible provides a clear and emphatic answer, “the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” (1John 5:19a) There’s a price for this numbness. We not only forget what we know—we forfeit who we are. Long-term emotional or spiritual numbness produces devastating results. Giving into self-imposed protection, by suppressing feelings, only creates a pattern of non-response. Eventually we are no longer able to respond at all. And when we cease to feel, in some significant way, we stop living. “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:11, NLT) “Jesus, awaken our hearts to believe what You believe, and feel what You feel, for only then can we be truly healed.”