Your Choice

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11 The Message

 

It is here! A new year is on us all, and it will contain lots of shocks and surprises through until December. Some we will be able to cope with easily, and some we will struggle badly with. The good news is that the verse confirms that God has only good plans for us, not just for the year, but always. It’s not God’s fault if our year doesn’t work out the way we wanted.

 

We are not so good with our own plans or intentions, are we? When we think about it, many of the problems in our lives are self inflicted, and a direct cause of our own decisions, both bad and good. So instead of thinking about resolutions at the start of this year, how about thinking ahead to next New Year, DV, and looking back at the things we wanted to achieve, and those we could have done better? Maybe then with God’s help, we will be better people, and have made a difference. I like the way the Old Testament prophet says it: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18,19 NIV


Happy New Year, and may it be filled with God’s Love and Blessings!

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Looking Back

And now we look back on all this and thank God, an artesian well of thanks! When you got the Message of God we preached, you didn’t pass it off as just one more human opinion, but you took it to heart as God’s true word to you, which it is, God himself at work in you believers! 1 Thessalonians 2:13 Msg

 

Looking back is not always good, and can be dangerous. Take Lot’s wife as a good example of that, she looked back and turned into a pile of salt! But then she did disobey the express command of God. She did not ‘trust and obey’ as the hymn says. Looking back can be contrary to God’s will, but it can also be hurtful as we remember those times we have been a disappointment to others or to ourselves. We could have done things differently, and we know it without somebody else telling us so. No one knows our failings better than ourselves, and reminders are not necessary!

 

A new year filled with fresh opportunities beckons, and we can either learn from the mistakes and disappointments of our past, or be condemned to repeat them in the coming year. As the old saying goes, “The one thing we learn from history, is that we don’t learn from history”. For my part, it is more than turning over a new leaf, or trying to make a fresh start. It’s that I must put any time ahead in God’s hands, and be content to do His will, without second guessing it in impatience because things don’t happen how or when I think they should.

 

We have been blessed with the gift of another year to let God use us, lead us and direct our hearts, so let’s resolve to give God the time to work out our future, whatever it is, and for however long He allows. So, Happy New Year!  


Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13b, 14 NIV

Finished

That’s it for another year. After all the hype that started in late October, the presents are given and received, the big turkey dinner and all the trimmings have been demolished, and the high calorie desserts have been digested (almost). Now, as my old Dad would have said, it’s back to ‘old claes an’ porridge’. It’s a bit of an anti climax when all you have to show for the big day is an expanding waistline.

 

But the great thing for the people who call themselves Christian, is that it isn’t over. It’s another reminder of the baby who started His earthly journey among us as Immanuel, “God WITH us”, but it wasn’t the end of the story. With the exception of a small family incident when He was only 12 years old, Jesus life is silent until He explodes onto the scene some 18 years later on. It is worth reminding ourselves that Jesus’ ministry lasted a short 3 years, before he was crucified aged 33 in disgrace with common thieves. What a tragic end that started with angels announcing His birth!

 

When he had received the drink, Jesus said,“It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 NIV

 

Hold it right there, because just as the baby Jesus in the manger was NOT the start, because Jesus was with the Father ‘in the beginning’, the Cross was not the end. It is worth keeping in mind the words spoken by our Lord as he hung on the cross, taking our sins on His own body, “IT IS FINISHED”. Christian, take note and take heart, it’s not over yet, and we are comforted by the fact that He is STILL IMMANUEL GOD WITH US, and he is coming back for His own. Amen to that!

 

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11 NIV

 

So when you wonder if the troubles of this life are all worth it, because the Christmas season of Jesus birth is past, and the events of the crucifixion get you down, look up and remember Jesus words at that dark time when He talked about the plan of salvation: ‘It is finished’. However….it is not ALL over yet, but it will be one day, and in the words of the old song: ‘It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus’. Yes, there is more to our lives than the trials we have here. The Apostle John sums up our eternal future in these amazing words, so take heart fellow pilgrims:


I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighbourhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.” Revelation 21:3-5 The Message

Christmas Chaos

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 NIV

 

You didn’t think we could get to the season of Christmas without some thoughts on the matter, did you? In the words of the song , ‘It’s a Jungle Out There’, and you will know that as you do any last minute shopping and you try to get a place to park your car and then elbow your way through the masses of shoppers. Not funny, but is this really part of what Christmas is all about? It becomes a chaotic world as we all try our best to get everything done before the big day, and no one knows that better than mothers as they try to get their family safely through Christmas. Was it always like this?

 

We may have sidelined Jesus, the Christ, out of the season but he and his family were also stuck in the middle of a chaotic world when the baby Jesus made an entrance. If you think it is a frantic world at Christmastime now, take a moment and think about Mary and Joseph. They were forced by the rulers of their day to take a trek to their hometown, with thousands of others, just to be counted. No reliable 4×4 to take them, but a donkey! Not a nice paved road, just a track. No 24 hour shops along the way to stop and do some retail therapy, just very basic places to stop for essential rest. Oh and did I say that Mary was very pregnant? How do you think she felt as they bumped along the way, and a caring Joseph would be very anxious for the safety and security of his wife. In a land controlled by soldiers, nothing was sure. They couldn’t even get a half decent place to rest when they got there, just a stable, and of course the baby was born right there. If ever there was a chaotic time for this wee family, this was it!

 

So if you get to feeling that this is a crazy time of year, and it is nothing but disorganised chaos, you would be right, but when it all started 2,000 years ago, the world was also unsafe, and more chaotic than we can imagine. Let’s be thankful for all that we have, and the greatest gift we could have been given by our Heavenly Father, the baby who became our salvation, Jesus the Christ, also known as the Messiah, Emmanuel, God WITH us, who came to save His people (that’s us!) from their sins. Now, wasn’t all that original chaos worth it? Yes, and a resounding Amen!


Have a Happy and Blessed (even if chaotic) Christmas!!

Peace

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7 NIV

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV

There is a lot made of peace, especially at Christmastime and rightly so, because the Son of God came to earth as a baby to live, grow, and give us peace. He is the ‘Prince of Peace’ and not just for a season. There is only one letter missing in the phrase ‘Price of Peace’ and it tells us of the cost of that elusive thing we can’t quite grasp, ‘peace’.

Nations desperately need it. People need it, as do individual hearts. The verses show that we should not be anxious about anything, and that is a tall order, but the key is in the words ‘prayer and petition’. It’s good to want peace, but do we want it enough to lay hold of God and petition Him for it until He answers?

At a personal level, I have recently found myself saying something like, “I am at peace with that” and it conveys a deeply held belief that I accept the will of God in something I have prayed about, and the resulting answer has given peace. Not just a general peace, but specific to my prayer. In fact I will go further. God has answered in a way I had not thought possible, but better than I could have hoped, so peace naturally follows. Yes, I still get anxious, and yes I will still worry from time to time, but when I get an answer from God which gives me peace, I am more ready to believe that He will answer ‘over and above’ my prayer next time. He will provide the peace, and my faith grows. What a combination, and what a great God we serve!