This New Year

It’s hard for me to believe that it is already 2010. I always just kind of do the smile and nod when someone starts going off on how they can’t believe how quickly time passes and how it feels like just yesterday that they did this or that. But here I am thinking and feeling the same way! I literally can’t believe that it has been a year since last January 1st. I remember it clear as a bell, just as if it happened yesterday! So weird! I’ve thought a lot about the past year – the challenges, the joys, and the lessons that I’ve learned. I am thankful for God’s unfailing goodness in the midst of great pain, suffering and darkness.  I am thankful that joy in Christ is not based on circumstances and that his mercies are new every morning and that he is faithful and gracious. Had things been in my hands, I never would have chosen the particular set of events and happenings of the past year, and I suspect many of you might feel the same way. Even the wonderful events and friendships of 2009 were unique and better than what I could have planned. It is so interesting to see how God wove the different situations of the past year together for my growth and his glory. I praise him for his provision and grace. Above all I am thankful for who he is and his goodness.

This Sunday I was blessed to be able to worship with my dear old Church Family at Christ Covenant Church in Raleigh. I am so thankful for the teaching and breaking of the word on Sunday. I was encouraged and convicted by the sermon. The text was Hebrews 12:25-29

“25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.”

It was a good reminder for me to remember and to heed the warnings that God gives. It was also encouraging as I heard that all warnings are for our good and are under-girded by God’s grace. I was convicted and sobered as I read the passage. This world is not the kingdom that I was made for, it is temporary and will be shaken, judgment is coming. We, however as believers and heirs with Christ, have received, are receiving and will receive the fullness of the unshakable kingdom. In this new year I want to invest in that Kingdom. I want my attitude, my thoughts, my affections, my bank statement, my actions, etc, to reflect a love for Christ. I want to invest in the unshakable kingdom this year.  This is the kingdom that will never end. We have been GIVEN this kingdom, we did not earn it and its promises are unshakable. We belong to Christ! We rest on the merits of Christ’s work on the cross. I want to grow in my love for Christ this year and my understanding of God and all that He has accomplished in Christ. Another thing that I was struck by was that our obedience is ultimately grounded in faith, not the gifts or the good things that he has given us. Yes, we are to be thankful for the good things that he has provided for us, but our obedience comes from faith in a good God. We have a good God who sacrificed his Son to make a way for us to be redeemed. We are to act in obedience to God because of faith in his goodness. Anything that he asks us to do is for our joy.  Our kingdoms here on earth may shake, but he has promised to keep us firm to the end.

“For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” Deuteronomy 4:24 It is good and right to think of God as our Father, after all He is our Father, we have been adopted and are heirs with Christ. However, many times we tame him and domesticate God at the expense of thinking of God as a consuming fire, powerful and mighty, completely holy. It was a good reminder that we are to worship God with reverence and awe. Tom pointed out that while we do come to the throne of grace boldly and that the curtain has been torn down, it took the flesh of the Son to bring it down. Consider the glory of God and Christ will be supremely valuable to us. The last point was about how we are to be communal and that God uses his church to increase our faith.

Anyway, I was challenged, convicted and encouraged as I heard the Word and then continued to think about it and begin applying it. I keep thinking about Philippians 2:12-13 12 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” We are called to work out our own salvation, but ultimately it is God’s grace working in us and He is the one who will keep us firm to the end. Jude 1:24-25  “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

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