Rev 20:12 KJV And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
I stand at the beginning of a new year like a person ready to robe one’s self with the appropriate garments that will assure a successful journey. A poem swept by me that put me into the focus of the New Year.
The New Year lies before you,
Like a spotless tract of snow.
Be careful how you tread on it,
For every mark will show.
Consider how the new year really does stretch out before us like a pristine snow covered field that has no tracks, no expectations, no preconceived ideas of what challenges will be faced. In fact, the snow covers the ground and we are unsure of the steadiness of the journey because we do not know the lay of the ground below that white blanket.
Looking back over this prior year, I see tracks of human intervention everywhere. In some instances I see the comforting hand of God working behind the scenes pointing direction, correcting my mishaps, holding me up when I would fall. But, looking ahead I see a great field of harvest, though my image shows it is covered with snow.
There is a fresh start of God’s plan before us.
- The winter is here – It is time to repair our equipment for the planting season.
- Spring planting is around the corner – Seed, ground prepping, equipment needs, longer days and shorter nights,
- Summer of growing – Weeding, sheltering, watering, fertilizing
- Autumn of harvest – If we do everything right at the appropriate season there will be a great harvest and we will be prepared!
One of my favorite authors has penned several books that I read every year or so. Jim Cymbala (remember, we listened to his message by DVD a few months ago), wrote several books with the word “Fresh” at the beginning of the title. These books make me hunger for the Freshness of the Spirit to sweep over this church and through our area.
- Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire
- Fresh Power: What Happens When God Leads and You Follow
- Fresh Faith: What Happens When Real Faith Ignites God’s People
Looking back over this past year, I can speak for my wife and I, we are enjoying a Fresh Experience of a new and prayed for grandchild. Yet, this past year has also left us with some trepidation about a health experience that has brought some changes to our world.
Some of you have experienced the ups and down’s of life’s thrill and burden. Some of us have experienced deaths, sicknesses, financial strains, loss of income, and sense of hopelessness for the future. Along with all the daily myriad of problems, we sometimes struggle with keeping our head above the water as we are swept from day to day, valley to hill to valley…
These past few weeks have left my spirit in a churning maelstrom of seeking direction from God for the year 2012. How do we utilize our skills, our latent hunger for spiritual things, our in-stability, to accomplish His Commission.
All I am left with is this message – I need a Fresh Start. We could all enjoy a Fresh Start.
Before you step out into that fresh snow covered field, please, prepare yourself for the unknown with the things that will protect you and strength you in this brand new year given to us by God!
David writes his psalms after a horrible and lustful experience with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11/12). Without dipping deeply into this story, David lusts after Bathsheba from afar. She is married and her husband is on the battlefield. David and Bathsheba sin. David brings her husband from the battlefield and contrives to have him sleep with his wife so that their sin may be masked and the child to be born could be called his. Uriah refuses and David contrives to have him slain on the battlefield so that he can claim Bathsheba as his own. This happens and the child is born. Yet the whole story displeases God (2 Sam 11:27). Soon, the child is born and David is confronted by the prophet Nathan. David confesses his sin and repents (2 Sam 12:13). God pronounces judgment and the penalty is that the child will die. (Sometimes our sin creates consequences in the innocents around us…) David fasts and prays for the child, yet the child dies.
Here is why this is the man who is after God’s own heart! (Acts 13:22)
- Upon hearing of the death of his child, David rose, washed himself clean, anointed himself with oil, changed his clothing and went to the house of the Lord and Worshipped.
- Oh if we would only prepare ourselves every day of the week for the time that we come to the House of the Lord to Worship!
- When you make a mistake you work hard at making right your appearance before God! But what a better person we would be if we could make our lives right before ever the trial or temptation shows up!
That’s what I want to deal with today in advance of our first steps into this New Year. Some may call this meddling, but I call it Shepherding.
Let’s make a Fresh Start in some very important areas:
- Prayer – Sometimes the only time we pray is when we are in church. I have taught on this so many times over the years, but it seems like there is a Fresh Desire to have a communion with God in a very personal way – and that’s through the vehicle called prayer. (Mt 6:6)
- Fasting – This often is only done when we don’t feel like eating anyway. I have often jokingly stated that I fast every day, and I break fast every morning! Still, there is something about bringing our body under subjection to its fleshly desires and committing the time and effort to Jesus for strengthening. (Mt 6:16-18)
- The Word – Should be a daily and frequent occurrence. (Ps 119:11) We focus on the comics, the magazines, newspapers, newsletters, emails, web pages, etc. – just about anything else other than that which gives us sustenance. Dine on the Word of God!
- Going to Church – It is our culture to make Sunday the most important day of our week, yet we give it to God grudgingly. And we seldom make a weekly Bible Study of any importance at all. (Heb 10:25)
- Reaching out to the lost – This is the Greatest commission and command give to us by Jesus (Matt 28:19)
- Commitment of our resources – We have placed more importance in the attainment of things and the requisite debt that goes with it and it leaves our resources strapped and begging for relief. The job becomes more important so that we can make more money, yet we lose more time with our families – natural and spiritual. When it comes time for giving of any of our resources and we have nothing to give or nothing extra to give. (Luke 6:38)
- Fellowship – There are people lost to Christ every day because we do not extend the hand of fellowship to them. Not only are we talking about dinner after Sunday Service, but we are talking about regular activities that do not interfere with church. (Acts 2:42)
- Holiness – We let the world slip into our personal lives and take no thought about the “little foxes that spoil the vine…” but we would hold up the Cross of Christ against the huge challenges of living a Christian walk. We need to keep our focus on living holy before the Lord in all that we do. (1 Peter 1:14-16)
- Forgiveness – You will never be forgiven for your trespasses if you cannot forgive others for their trespasses. (Matt 6:14-15)
Maybe 2011 was not everything you hoped it would be. Paul said to put the past behind us!
You may ask about the scripture at the beginning we read in Revelations
- Rev 20:12 KJV And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Let me say it like this… One of these days you are going to stand before the Lord and be judged for what is written in the books, why not stand before the Lord every single day and let your lives be prepared for that final day.
You may be struggling right now…
- Lam 3:18-23 KJV And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD: (19) Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. (20) My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. (21) This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. (22) It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. (23) They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Miscellaneous quotes and Tweets.
- You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~C.S. Lewis
- Gather up your unanswered prayers and all your unfulfilled prophecies – broken dreams – mark them “Not Yet” take them all of them into 2012
- Do not let this be the year of Resolutions that begin on January 1, and by January 11 they are history!
- The most critical among us are probably the ones who are the less committed. A critical spirit is swept under by the tide of involvement.
- “A new year lies ahead; an unwritten page, an unspent coin, an unwalked road. Our writing, investments & discoveries depend on us.” ~ York
- Every person should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take no interest in things that are past. ~ Beecher
- “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce
- Life is a book in volumes 3 – the past, the present & the yet-to-be. The past is written & laid away; The present we’re writing every day; And the last & best of volumes 3, is locked from sight – God keeps the key