The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. – Numbers 6:24-26A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health. – Proverbs 15:30
Nutritionists tell us that we need to obtain our vitamins through food as opposed to pills and that our daily intake should contain at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. This is good advice, but I watch in amazement as a newborn child only needs one item for their complete nutritional needs as provided by their nursing mother. While on this milk they vibrantly grow stronger each day. Their skin is beautiful, their eyes are like engaging jewels and their bodies grow stronger right in front of your eyes.
But what about their spiritual needs? What about our spiritual needs? Just like mothers milk, there is only one thing we need and that’s a right relationship with Jesus in our life. Everything falls into place once this happens. We get baptized, the Holy Spirit inhabits our lives, we partake of the Lord’s Supper regularly, we pray daily, we make offerings to our Lord, we gather to worship and praise, we read God’s word and through all of this our faith builds over time. When you attend church, you should leave feeling spiritually fed – regardless of your background and age. Start to ask some very serious questions if this isn’t happening because the problem can be either you or your church.
Picking the right church is a bit tricky. Here’s my litmus test:
1. All Christian churches regardless of denomination will profess to teach God’s word in truth and purity so this in effect is not a good enough discriminator. You need to know the bible yourself to make an informed assessment of this.
2. Look for churches that read God’s word regularly, in every single worship service, and also verify that all portions are being used throughout the year – every book, every verse and every word is important.
3. Look for churches that administer the Sacraments according to God’s word. Yes, you need to know that much as well.
4. Look for churches that pray together in every service.
5. Look for preaching that is based on God’s word and that uses some scripture throughout.
6. Look for churches that confess their sins together, that are reminded of the forgiveness of sins and receive the absolution of their sins on a regular basis.
7. Look for churches that start their worship in the name of the Triune God.
8. Look for fans of the coffee hour, jello, the Green Bay Packers and Star Wars (just kidding, you know who you are.)
The common theme here is God and His word, not man or his feeble traditions.
Make it your New Year’s resolution to find a church if you don’t have one already.
My New Year’s Verse
I found my New Year’s verse. Actually, it found me because I wasn’t looking for one – in the same way that Jesus made himself known to me so many years ago. Here it is:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Get that? – I am in Christ and the old has gone! It is exciting! A new year! A fresh start! What will God do with me in 2016?
The truth is that I do not know if I will have health problems in 2016. I don’t know if I’ll lose my job in 2016. I don’t know if I’ll lose a loved one, or if terrorism will strike on US soil. The list of unknowns goes on and on. But I do know that it will be a good year with Christ in my life because He loved me enough to trade His pure and holy life for mine. So my life is important and I do make a difference. My destiny is with Him forever and this changes everything.
So in 2016 I will rejoice. I will trade my life’s minor chords for major chords; no make that Major 7th chords because these jazzy chords have a happier sound. These are major chords that have been blessed.
Today, I pray that you hold tighter to Jesus, your Lord and your Savior in 2016. Cling to Him and to His words and feel the power of the Holy Spirit inside you. He’s there and He’s bursting at the seams to inspire you. Let Him lead you. Pray through Him to God the Father. It will make a difference.
I share with you my New Year’s verse. You also be in Christ. The old is gone and the new is here!
Wishing you all peace – the peace that only Christ can bring in 2016!
He Makes All Things New
A Responsive Reading for the New Year
M: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead – 1 Peter 1:3
C: Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people. – Ps 149:1
M: See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. – Isa 65:17
C: In keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. – 2 Peter 3:13
M: You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. – Eph 4:22-24
C: For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – Romans 6:6
M: A new command I give you: Love one another. As Jesus has loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are His disciples, if you love one another. – John 13:34-35
C: Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. – Psalm 71:3
M: 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. – Isa 43:19
C: Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. – Ps 96:1
M: Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:12)
C: Restore and sustain us O Lord
M: Restore us, O Lord God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved. (Psalm 80:19)
C: Restore and rekindle us O Lord
M: He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. ; (Psalm 23:2-3)
C: Restore, refresh and guide us O Lord
M: Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved. ; (Psalm 80:3)
C: Restore and awaken us O Lord
M: And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. ;
C: To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10-11)
It’s a New Year. I should read the bible, cover to cover.
In the beginning, God created…
Ahhh, the first five words of the bible.
And we are in deep trouble with some people already.
“What beginning?” Yes, there was a beginning to the universe.
“What God?” Yes, there is an almighty.
“Created?” Yes, the world was created by God.
You have to love this about God. No beating around the bush. He tells it like it is.
Bold opposition to any theory of cosmology
Bold opposition to any theory of evolution
Bold opposition to a godless universe
Bold opposition to an eternal universe
Bold opposition to any Big Bang theory
Bold opposition to any other God or deity
And scripture has barely started to be revealed
God hasn’t even cleared his enormous throat yet
And most of the world is in opposition
Against the ropes
In a defensive posture already
In the beginning, God created…
The advent of the universe in time and space is being described here
Not a beginning to God
A beginning to his gigantic creation
The universe had a beginning
God never had a beginning
Infinite with respect to space
Eternal with respect to time
His existence has no start or end time
The dimensions of His existence are everlasting to everlasting
He always has been
He always will be
Now on to the next five words in Genesis!
– based on the writings of R.C. Sproul and Moses
God wrote a love letter to you, it’s called the bible. Read it lately?
The above poem was written by Bobby Brown, author of ”Seated Above Looking Below.”
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KY44A2G/ref=aslitl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00KY44A2G&linkCode=as2&tag=woidyocaus-20&linkId=LWBPP6CWDWQ2OXDX”>Seated Above, Looking Below
Responsive Prayer for Renewal
Don’t you just love a prayer for renewal on New Year’s Eve?
P: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead – Peter 1:3
C: Merciful God of might, thank you for a new birth
P: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! – 2 Corinthians 5:17
C: Merciful Jesus, thank you for a new creation
P: I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. – Ezekiel 11:19
C: Merciful God of might, thank you for a new spirit
P: But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. – 2 Peter 3:13
C: Merciful Jesus, come and renew this weary world.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of International Bible Society