What are your thoughts as you look back over the last year? Was it a year of heartache and loss, tragedy and sorrow? Or happiness and joy, success and achievement? Do you close the book on this year with regret , or with relief?
No matter what your answer is, I hope you will pause and prayerfully ask yourself two important questions. First, how do you think God looks on this past year in your life? Did it bring you any closer to Him?
Second, what lessons will you take from this year into the next? What did God teach you? Don't be bound by the past and its failures. Don't forget its lessons either.
"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 3:13-14
God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And because He is unchanging, He is utterly trustworthy and faithful. God is unchanging in His holiness:"Holy,holy, holy is the Lord Almighty!"( Isaiah 6:3).
God is unchanging in His demand for holiness and integrity in our lives: " Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy" ( Leviticus 11:44; 1 Peter 1:15-16).
God is unchanging in His judgment: He will judge all the earth, welcoming some into His eternal presence and sending others to eternal death for rejecting His Son, Jesus.( Matthew 7:22-23).
God is unchanging in His love: He sent His Son to die on the cross for us sinners.
" I the Lord do not change." Malachi 3:6
Jesus is the crucified Christ. Good works won't get us into heaven, Only what Jesus did when He died in our place and shed His blood can open Heaven's door for us.
In addition, Jesus is the Conquering Christ. He rose from the dead as the Conqueror of sin and death and Hell. Because the Risen Jesus holds the keys of hell and death, we don't have to experience them for ourselves.
And finally, Jesus is the Coming Christ: Someday He will return to establish His kingdom of peace and blessing.
May your faith and hope be in Christ- today and always!
"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;" Luke 4:18 (NKJV)
Christianity has its roots in the deep , firm soil of history. Jesus' incarnation- God invading human history with His presence in the form of man - is on record. Every time you write the date, you attest to the fact that God entered human history. We used to say ," in the year of our Lord" or A.D. but that has been erased from our vocabulary.
Jesus came into the world so we might know that God cares how we live, what we believe, and how we will die. Jesus came to demonstrate to us that we were made to have a personal relationship with God. He came to bridge the gap that separated us from our Creator.
" Gd was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them." 2 Corinthians 5:19
It would have been logical to expect God to tear open the heavens and descend to earth in majesty and power on that first Christmas night- but He didn't. Instead , on that night in Bethlehem, a virgin mother laid her newborn baby into a feeding trough designed for domestic animals.
Truly God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform. The birth of Jesus Christ- the Son of God, our Savior-went unnoticed by the vast majority of the world that first Christmas night, but no event in human history was more significant. May we continue to recognized the significance of the birth and let it not go unnoticed.
" So [the shepherds] hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger." -Luke 2:16