Save The Date:
January 22: Sanctity of Life Sunday
March 20 - 23: Spring Sharathon!
Prayer Corner:With the New Year we look forward to new growth and new seasons of life. Pray this year will bring a season of revival, that the nation would turn from their sins and follow Christ. Also, this month is Sanctity of Life Month. Pray for those who are making a stand for life and that more would choose life.
Make a Happy New Year by Bill Powell
We are without a doubt saved by grace through faith. It is a gift we cannot earn. No amount of good works can save us because we all fall short. Now that we’re clear about that, why were we put here on this earth with all the talents, resources, ingenuity, drive, interests, and creativity sprinkled among us?
Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…
Are we to rest on our laurels? Are works dead? Before I can go any further, we need to get one more important thing straight. As sinners, we often jump from one ditch to another. Some base everything on works and seek to earn their way to God through their efforts. I think what clouds works vs. grace is that for too many, they think the purpose of our existence is for man’s happiness (man-centered Christianity). It is all about me. You can have it all. God wants us to have it all. He exists to serve us, etc. It is as if He is this magic genie. He wants to spoil us- all we have to do is want it and come get it. Actually, the truth of the matter is, it is all about Him. He is the Lord, and we are to serve Him and worship Him, not ourselves (God-centered Christianity).
Ok, now that we have that cleared up, let’s talk about works and the new year. If you are reading this you, must be alive. So, that is a good start. I try to look at the new year as a chance to take another whack at life. What can I accomplish? How can I get better? What do I need to change? Do you know what the largest room in the world is? Wait for it… the Room for Improvement! I don’t care what your situation is; you can usually improve it. Yes, there are exceptions, but that is not most of us. We can all move forward and do better.
Here are just a few of an endless list of ideas: read your Bible more, pray more, serve more, be kinder, give more. Remember, it’s just about being better and improving. In this life, we are never done. It’s about growing and making good use of the time you have left. Here are a few more ideas: forgive someone, be less angry, reconcile with someone, help someone, change, exercise, get a check up. Just for fun: ride a bike, kayak, sky dive, make something, color, paint, fix something, take a trip, read some books, fish, hike, walk when you can, take a class, learn something new, volunteer.
Be deliberate, don’t bite off more than you can chew, be realistic. I remember that someone once said, “Don’t just sit there. Pray something.” Make the most of the time you have left because this life is short, and we need to make an effort to make the most of it. Happy New Year!
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Rom 2:6 He will render to each one according to his works:
Jas 2:18 But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Ecc 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
Fruitful In Every Season by Chris Johnson
I find it interesting that in America the New Year’s celebration occurs in the winter season. It’s kind of oxymoronic don’t you think? Winter is not typically associated with excitement and joy because of the cloudy cold days, leafless trees, and dead grass. Let’s face it most people (myself not included, I love cold weather) love Florida because of the mild winters and warm climate. Tourists and snow birds flock to the “Sunshine State” with hopes of avoiding the bone chilling temps of the north and rejoice that there’s never a reason to purchase a snow shovel unless you’re planning to use it to build a massive sand castle. Winter is often associated with feelings of sadness. Some say the season zaps them of energy and motivation. Yet, it’s during this season that we turn our calendars to a new year and say goodbye to the past troubles, express thanksgiving at the joys we’ve shared and look onward to what is ahead. press thanksgiving at the joys we’ve shared, and look onward to what is ahead.
As easy as the turning of a page on the calendar might sound, sometimes it’s not as easy to turn the pages of our life and peer into the next chapter. Lingering sadness or even the fear of the unknown works to discourage us and take our confidence away from the Lord. Yet the promise of God for those who abide in His Word is that they will be like well-watered trees planted by a living stream of water and in God’s good timing they will yield good fruit. Further, He encourages us that He will cause us to persevere and not wither away. Conversely, Jesus assures his people that they will prosper. The Psalmist wrote that the child of God would yield fruit in its season. Seasons change and different fruit is borne in every season. We have no control over the seasons and in truth the Lord is the only one that brings forth good fruit, so what role do we play in the process? We are instructed to abide in Christ. We are called to mediate upon his word when the sun is shining and in the dark of night. May the Lord grant us courage and joy in the New Year of 2018, may he be pleased to bring forth good fruit in its proper season, and may we be satisfied and filled in the matchless provision of the Word of God. Jesus said that we live, “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Let us remain in His Word and His Word remain in us.
The Psalmist wrote that the child of God would yield fruit in its season. Seasons change and different fruit is borne in every season. We have no control over the seasons, and, in truth, the Lord is the only one that brings forth good fruit. So what role do we play in the process? We are instructed to abide in Christ. We are called to mediate upon His Word when the sun is shining and in the dark of night. May the Lord grant us courage and joy in the New Year of 2018, may he be pleased to bring forth good fruit in its proper season, and may we be satisfied and filled in the matchless provision of the Word of God. Jesus said that we live “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Let us remain in His Word and His Word remain in us.
Walking In 2018 by Denisha Stearns
Have you ever read John Bunyan’s classic allegory Pilgrim’s Progress? I hear it is the most published text besides the Bible itself. I’m embarrassed to admit- I still have it on my “To Read in My Free Time” list, but I hope 2018 will be the year I cross it off. If you ever drop by the studios, you may see a poster on the wall illustrating the epic journey of Pilgrim as he makes his way to the Celestial City, the people he meets along the way (like his friend, Faithful), and pitfalls he tries to avoid. Pilgrim’s Progress gets me thinking about where the Bible talks about paths and our Christian “walk”. I particularly love this one verse from Proverbs 4:18- The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. When Solomon put it that way, it seems easy to imagine walking on that beautiful, good path with ever-increasing light never to stray or stumble. Some days, I seem to fly down that trail like a professional trail hiker. My relationship with God is cultivated daily, family life is planned twenty years out, and my health will stay in a near-perfect state. Then, other days, even with the sun still shining, the temptation to get bogged down, stumble, or stray painfully tests my determination.
But temptation does not need to end in a pitfall. Solomon, as if writing these words to his son, echoed Father God’s loving guidance, when he wrote, “I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.” How reassuring! God IS my guide, and I know I can walk well, even if the path gets bad. I pray that it is never as bad as Job’s walk. No one I know has ever had it as bad as him. After having walked the sunny path for so long, the rain drenched him in unimaginable loss and sorrow and physical suffering. His riches, his family, and his health was gone in a matter of days. Yet, he still resolved to seek and to follow the God he could not see. “My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept His way and have not turned aside.” (Job 23:10). Job believed he would come forth as gold, and he did. Not because of belief in himself, though, but belief in the ultimate sovereignty and everlasting goodness of God. I resolve in 2018 to walk on the path of the righteous and hold fast to God’s steps. How about you? Like Pilgrim and his friend Faithful, let’s walk it together. I’ll bring the sunglasses!
God Is Good by Christina Hutchinson
The New Year is a great time to rejoice and reflect on all that God makes new! A new year, a new season, a new journey. I can already tell this year is going to have its ups and downs because let’s be honest, do we really think that will ever change? I don’t think so. What can change is our perspective, our troubles, and our joys etc. What matters is how those things affect us from a biblical standpoint. I am terrified of the unknown! Every little twist and turn that this life brings makes me nervous and anxious to know what’s waiting for me on the other side. In those moments I’m tempted to just give up and give in to anxiety and worry. But the promises of God ring through my mind every time. Isaiah 41:10- fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 54:10- “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, ”says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Joshua 1:9- Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” The seasons we go through in life are not brought upon us without God’s knowing. He uses those moments to draw to Himself and to refine our faith. So as we look forward to the new year ahead, let us not become overwhelmed by the ‘what ifs’ because they haven’t happened yet and even if they do our God is good, and works for the good of His people. Romans 8:28- And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.