Happy New Year!

For January 1, 2020

At 12:00 AM, January 1, 2020 of the Gregorian Calendar, we celebrate two thousand and twenty years since the birth of Jesus Christ.1, and thereby acknowledge the birth of the most influential person in human history.

It is also a time when many of us begin the New Year resolving to improve our circumstances by accomplishing identified personal and professional goals we call New Year’s Resolutions.

Exercise, rest, diet, write a book, seek professional advancement, take a trip to an exotic location, spend more time with family and loved ones, are all positive resolution ideas. I feel however, our greatest personal or professional goal is God-centered as Moses observed as he charged Ancient Israel in Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (NLT):

What does the LORD your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the LORD your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul. And you must always obey the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.

In our own strength, ultimately we  fail since we have live in sin-tainted bodies that move us think, speak, and act—often without provocation—in ways detrimental to others (including God) and ourselves. This, our governing disposition, needs to change before we can experience oneness with God.

The good news is God changes our governing disposition through the Born Again experience or Regeneration, which is the wonderful act of God when He changes the governing disposition of the soul, making it holy and turns the soul to Himself.2

A computer that has been contaminated by a virus may still functions, but not at optimum capacity. However, once the virus is removed, the hard drive is reformatted, and new software installed; the machine can function at an optimum capacity—according to its original design.

Much like this computer illustration, sin contaminated us, and we need God’s spiritual reformatting made available to us through faith in Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection secured our moral and spiritual transformation as well as our eternal reconciliation to God.

Here, by faith we acknowledge our contamination by confessing our sin before God. Then we turn from the continual practice of sinful behavior through repentance. We place our full trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, who installs the spirit-directed software, which enables us to function according to our original design—at full capacity!

With a new, transformed appreciation for God, we can no longer express indifference and ambivalence about our church involvement because we are driven to present a sincere, reverent, intentional Christ-centered way of living that involves our deliberate participation.

Our new life reflects the Spirit’s work within us and our desire to grow closer to God in all phases of our lives. Much like a compass needle that points north because of the magnetic forces, our freedom in Christ points others to the Christ who lives in and works through us.

We also develop a strong sense of piety and reverence toward God while craving a deeper intimacy level in our fellowship with Him. Each day, it becomes easier to invite Him to reign in every area of our lives so that we can reflect His holiness.

God is a life-changing Spirit whose incredible majesty and splendor compel us to revere Him with a sober view of His eternal being. This helps us pursue His moral and spiritual perfection with all sincerity and dedication.

With this Spirit-driven, distinguishable lifestyle, we now can keep our word, speak the truth in love, and ask for help when we need it. Confiding in a pastor, a trusted, mature Christian friend, or a qualified professional can be invaluable to us as we seek to attain spiritual and moral balance.3

In this New Year, let’s live our lives this decade—full of faith—in spiritual, emotional, and psychological harmony with God and others as we grow “in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and others” as did our Lord according to Luke 2:52. Then we can live stellar lives, never resorting to blaming others or using flimsy excuses to escape accountability.

Instead, we ask God for forgiveness, we reconcile with the offended person (or persons), and we practice an improved moral and spiritual lifestyle, just as God intended us to live. Why not begin at 12:00 AM today!

 

Making Us New in 2019

For January 1, 2019
Around the world, revelers gather to witness remarkable pyrotechnics and special effects lighting shows to celebrate a New Year. The Times Square Ball, New York, Burj Khalifa, Dubai, Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Harbour Bridge, Sydney, Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong, the River Thames near the London Eye as well as other locations provide revelers with spectacular images every year.

With each successive year of the Gregorian Calendar, we number the years since the birth of Christ. Anno Domini (AD or A.D.) is the Latin phrase that implies “In the year of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Moreover, BC or B.C. separates time before the birth of Christ from time after His birth, which is referred to as Common, Current, or Christian Era (CE or C.E.).

This year, we celebrate two thousand and nineteen years since the birth of Jesus Christ.1 Numbering years allows us to honor this most influential person in human history.

We make this distinction because through Christ we can become new people on the inside by way of the New Birth, as He promises in John 3:3, 16-17 (NLT):

I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God…For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

Some associate the New Birth with materialism and insist it insures our wealth and prosperity. This cannot be the case since Jesus’ teachings never advocated materialism over God’s spiritual Kingdom. Transforming hearts is His chief concern. And once He has our hearts, He has everything else we have.

Although our new life in Christ may not lead to wealth and fame, the complete, internal, spiritual overhaul that accompanies it will produce a new person as 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) teaches:

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.

Newness occurs once we hear the good news (Gospel) about how God loves us and wants to satisfy our deepest longings–freely. Then, we repent by changing our minds about pursuing sin, and we turn to Christ by inviting Him into our hearts as Lord and Savior, by faith. Then His Spirit preserves and enables us to accomplish His will as beloved children.

I pray that 2019 brings us His peace and fulfillment as it draws us one year closer to His glorious return.

 

Arise, Shine! For Your Light is Come!

For December 31, 2018
Some seven-hundred years before the birth of Christ, Israel is no more while her sister kingdom, Judah along with her capital city Jerusalem’s destruction is foretold by the prophet Isaiah. For in just over one-hundred years, the nation’s elite will be exiled to Babylon and the city destroyed. In order to encourage a downcast nation, Isaiah offers these comforting words:

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.”                                                                                           Isaiah 60:1 (NIV)

Gone would be the thrones on which King David and his son, Solomon sat when Israel enjoyed her greatest glory and splendor. Gone would be Solomon’s Temple—one of the most beautiful structures ever designed and built—smoldering in ruins. Peace and prosperity would be distant memories for God’s chosen people.

A devastated people yearned for a message of consolation, hope and of new beginnings: The Lord will restore them to greater glory whereby all the nations of the world would not only become eyewitnesses; they would experience as well.

Looking for a message of consolation, hope and new beginnings? Having difficulty making a New Year’s resolution? Let me suggest the following:

♦ Others have failed you miserably; give your heart to Jesus Christ. He never fails but offers a wonderfully transformed life that honors God and blesses people—including you.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God…For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.                                                                                  Ephesians 2:8, 10 (NLT)

♦ Stop trusting in your human futility alone. Turn to the Lord instead, and trust in Him for everything.

This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord.”                                                                                Jeremiah 17:5 (NLT)

♦ Commit your life to the Lord, and rely on Him to live out a victorious life through you each day.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.                                                                                                          Micah 6:8 (NIV)

♦ Experience and enjoy forever the abundant life that Jesus secures for His people.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.                                                        John 10:10 (NLT)

When our New Year’s resolutions are Christ centered and God honoring, the Lord performs His perfect work in our hearts, minds, souls. Only then can we truly have a Happy New Year!