And So It Begins…

Revelation 21:4-6And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.”

The days and weeks leading up to this, the last day of the year, bring reflection, meditation and evaluation of what worked, and what didn’t. It brings a renewed desire to do better – to resolve to be a better version of what we feel we should have been. It is a time for reflecting on the lives of those who will not be able to walk with or talk with us – ever again.

In these last hours of 2018, I sit taking in all that has happened in this very busy, event-filled year. After purchasing a car in late January, the 51K miles soon turned to 81K with all the trips we took this year. Though all were wonderful in their own right, one stands out of the rest.

My Dad invited my wife and I all of my siblings and their spouses to accompany him to Cape Hatterus, NC. Little did we know it was to be the last time we would ever be all together with Dad while he was alive.

During that time, we didn’t fight, argue or stew over petty disagreements. We enjoyed each other’s company and my Dad was able to go deep sea fishing (sort of), spend hours on end with each of his children and talked of doing this on a regular basis because of the enjoyment he witnessed.

Who would have guessed that the stroke he suffered just months later would take his life?

My wife and I took our children to Tennessee; to a mountain cabin retreat to spend time together. There we took family pictures, brought two more into our family via engagements, and made memories with all the sites we saw throughout that week.

We visited my son and his family in Connecticut in the fall to see the colors in New England. Technology has brought us closer with face to face communication, but it does not compare to being in someone’s presence; holding them and just being together.

The many memories made this year will be wonderful to reflect upon and recall throughout the rest of our lives.

I have lived long enough to know that the resolutions I set out to keep usually fell by the wayside days, weeks or months later. So, when I read this passage today to finish out reading the Bible through in a year, those words; “I make all things new…” jumped out at me.

Much of the growth – ANY growth for that matter – has been by the hand of God. It was He who put in me the gifts and talents to sing His praises. It was Him who gave me the ability to overcome my introversion and become a preacher and teacher of the gospel. It was Him who called me to work with the addicted.

All these things have been planted firmly and grown in my life. But I can look as well on the times when I forced the hand of God to do what I thought was His will, but eventually turned out to be what “I” wanted to do FOR Him.

As I begin this next year, I have learned to listen far more than I talk. Humbling myself instead of posturing and positioning to do better than my peers. I have been taught that God has works for me to do every day (Ephesians 2:10).

Asking what work He has for me today; desiring Him to do them through me; yielding to the power, leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit will produce much more lasting fruit than what I try to accomplish in the flesh.

If God were desiring to remake, or make all things new in your life, where would He start?

Most of us, if not all of us could use a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 5:18-21And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

How about more of God’s fruit in our life?

Galatians 5:22-23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithMeekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

For some, we need to pare down what we do to make what we do effective and productive. For others, we need to exercise our gifts and talents and take our place in the body of Christ.

There are always those in any church who see the need and jump in to fill it. Yet, allowing the gap to be seen by all, promoting the need to fill it would place the very ones God gifted in the position for which He called them.

Are we growing in our giving?

I have always tried to view the coming year in light of this thought:

“If I knew that Jesus was coming this year, what would I do differently?”

Would I give more to missions?

Would I be a more faithful witness?

Would the Word of God become more precious to me?

Would my prayer life increase?

Would I visit the sick and backslidden to encourage them?

Would I mentor someone to help them grow to a fuller potential for Christ?

So many questions to consider and yet, if we would just get alone with God to find what it is He would have us do, we would not get so overwhelmed. Because:

Romans 4:21And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.”

Philippians 1:6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

We have no excuse to do that which God as called us to do.

Do not let fear, or our lack of confidence defer us from doing what it is God called us to do. He promised – and He also enables that which we are called to do. Sounds like a win – win to me…!

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