Goodbye, Hello

It is the time of the year that we say goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014. I always find this time of year interesting. We just came off of a great time of the year with Thanksgiving and followed closely by Christmas. Those holidays help us focus on two important things – being thankful and even more important the LORD Jesus Christ.

Now, to me there is a switch of gears from Christmas to the end of the year and beginning of a new one. Let’s think about this some starting with the end of a year – 2013.

I see three things we can end the year with, ok four 1) we can just ignore it. I think few do that but we could. We could just watch it pass by without much thought at all. Let’s come back to that thought. 2) We can be glad that it is over. It seemed too challenging and not much hope for the future. We could have had broken relationships that seem to be impossible to rebuild. We could have lost loved ones that we think we can never recover from. We could have lost a job or house or race car, etc… and think they are gone forever. 3) We could have had a good year that we wish would just keep going and that there were more days. Or maybe we wish there were more days because we were so busy, want more time, more money, or better relationships.  4) We could pause right now and look back and go – WOW what a great year the LORD has given to us. He has done so much and blessed us so greatly. He has taught a simple, sinner like me. He has allowed me to draw near to Him. God has shown glimpses of His glory to me. His Word has been alive and active in my life. Even and bigger and better praise would be if salvation has happened this year for you! I hope that is how you are looking at 2013 and the end of the year.

Now we move to 2014. We can look at the coming of the New Year in four ways also. 1) We can try to ignore it but that is hard because we do have to write “2014” now J. 2) We can be nervous or worried that last year’s troubles will continue and the struggles might even get worse. Maybe we have tough decisions to make. I would hope that you are turning to God for wisdom and direction. Those decisions made on our own can often turn out poorly.  3) We can anticipate this or that to happen. There are going to be moments or points in 2014 that will have powerful effects on our life and those around us. We can get weighted down or even destroyed by that weight or we can look at it as the challenge God places before us to see which choice we will make – either against God and His will or for Him and His will. We can also anticipate in a good way that God will teach us new things (new to us, He is unchanging) and give us opportunity to grow. We can make “that” commitment. I know that I want to grow in prayer and in knowledge of the LORD Jesus. I want to grow in faith and trust and in loving my family and those around me. 4) We can be consumed with Christ and filled with the hope that there is in Jesus. Each of us should have that hope. That hope should not be that our surroundings or circumstances improve but that we have trust in the LORD and what He is going to do. He is going to protect us and teach us. We have a hope in what is to come after life here on earth. We have the hope of salvation.

Remember at the beginning I said that we can ignore the end and beginning of the year. We can ignore it but it is still going to happen. The year will end on December 31st and is going to begin again on January 1st. Just like we can try to ignore the end and beginning of years, we can try to ignore the LORD and eternity, but God is real and true, and so is eternity. We will face it one day, ready or not. I hope you are ready. I hope you have placed your trust and faith in Jesus. I hope you have agreed with His Word that Jesus is LORD.

Now let’s consider a few verses on this subject:

John 19:30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus finished well. We should finish the year well.

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Jesus begins a work in us and will complete it. We need to be in step with Him and His will by being in His Word and prayer continually.

Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Revelation 22:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Jesus is the beginning and the end and is complete in every way. We should completely lean on Him and His Word and fellowship with other believers.

I hope you have had a good 2013 and that 2014 is even better. I hope you grow in your relationships and especially in your relationship with God.

Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine,

Pastor Todd

Merry Christmas 2013

1 John 4:7-217 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him…18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (NIV)

1 John 5:1-15 1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (NIV)

What great verses to think about during this time of the year. We see that God loved us first. He planned for us to reach out to Him. He planned for us to turn to Him and see that God the Son, Jesus, would come and live a perfect, sinless life and then be killed and die for our sin to be atoned for. He planned on us confessing our sin and confessing that Jesus is LORD. He planned on us repenting. He planned on the greatest gift of all to be ours – salvation! He planned for us to be sealed by the Holy Spirit. He planned for us to seek Him daily with all our heart, mind, soul, strength. He planned on us to obey Him, trust Him, and to follow Him.

What great plans God has for us, but He also gives us the free will to make those choices. Will we see Christmas as a great time of the year to be with family and others and give and get gifts or will we see it as God meant it to be, a time to reflect on Jesus coming from Heaven and being born as a baby in a humble manger? Will we sing songs and go to church this one time or will we have a heart of worship that will recognize the awesome God, His holiness, His greatness, His goodness, His sovereign rule? Will we see the LORD and commit our lives, each day to spend time thinking upon Him? Will we grab hold of the joy and the hope that there is in Jesus?

What great news – Jesus! God loved us so much He sent His Son, Jesus, to live a perfect life and to die on the cross and to rise from the dead. This is the good news, the gospel. It gives hope to the greatest of sinners because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All can turn to Him, All can repent. All can be saved.

So this Christmas season would you surrender your heart and life to Jesus? Would you place your faith and trust in Jesus?

Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine

And have Merry Christmas!

Pastor Todd