Sunday, 2 January 2022

Starting Afresh

 Scripture:  Isaiah 50 v 7: "For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed."

2 John v 2 - 4: "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
3  For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.
4  I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."

Micah 6 v 8: "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

If we who love Jesus Christ start 2022 by dedicating our lives to Him afresh, pledging our time and resources to furthering the gospel, and being obedient to the will of our Father, we shall do well.

There is hope for our future.  If Jesus Christ is the centre of our lives, the Lord and Master of all we possess, then He controls everything around us.  We will find favour with God and man and enjoy the fruits of our labours.

As John says we will prosper as our souls prosper.  This means that as we grow in grace, love, obedience and humility this is reflected in the blessings we receive.  If our spirit is fruitful through the Holy Spirit, then our storehouses and barns will be filled with plenty.

It takes determination and courage to defy logic and be led of the Holy Spirit through the challenges of life.  Paul wrote in Philippians that he had learned to be content whether he had little or abundance, whether it was hot or cold weather, because this was the way his life unfolded.

He had been through terrible persecution because of his conversion from being a Pharisee of the Pharisees, to becoming a follower of the resurrected Jesus, feared and hated by religious Jews 2000 years ago.  

Every religion lacks the power of the Holy Spirit!  He stands for TRUTH, uncompromising, and holiness.  Just before His ascension to Heaven, Jesus said that our Father would send the Holy Spirit to empower us to be witnesses to Him, His life, death, mercy, forgiveness, healing, deliverance and eternal life.

We must shine in the darkness of this world.  The light of Jesus within us gets brighter as we walk the walk and talk the talk.  The faith and power given to the first apostles is available to us today.  If we neglect to use it, we will be like a dry well and an empty bucket.  That well is full of living water, keeping us like a cup that overflows.  

If we are believers and followers of Jesus then we must do the things He did.  They were examples for us to copy and even improve on.  He is the Creator, and when He is in our hearts He desires to keep on creating.  He inspires us to do miracles, healings, deliverances, to raise the dead.  This honours His legacy to us, and fulfils His heart's desire!  It brings the souls He died to save back home to Him.

Many live through poverty, famine, war and grief, a living Hell, but also have never heard of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  He gave us the commission to go into all the world and bring the truth to them.  It's not enough to send verses and prayers on Twitter, etc., although some have been blessed this way.

We will not win the prize of the high calling through our ability to tweet or use other media to spread the Word.  We must physically be willing to go to the need and meet the need.  The prize goes to those who are brave and bold enough to put love and faith into action.

Finally the Lord requires that we live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.  With so much corruption in governments everywhere its easy to join in the clamour of condemnation.  It is not the way of Christianity to run the world, we are no longer part of it although we live in it.  We can exert an influence through righteous living, prayer, uplifting the poor and needy, and rejecting compromise with evil.

There are many who support getting more Christians into government.  This may help in the short term to achieve some changes but the Lord is building His Church, this is the invisible Body of Christ made up of true believers everywhere.  We are new creations who are submitted to the Highest of the High, and trying to fit in with governing the world is a compromise that will probably backfire.

We have to make rational decisions based on spiritual truth.  The late David Wilkerson had his life turned upside down when he was called by Jesus to move out of his comfort zone to minister to the gangs of New York, and in particular, Nicky Cruz, one of the worst offenders.  Today, Nicky Cruz runs the ministry Teen Challenge, that has turned many lives around through deliverance from drugs, alcohol, sex and crime to the joy of Jesus.  David Wilkerson wrote the Cross and the Switchblade about this transformation.

He was not called to run for high office in New York and make laws against crime, but to get going in the ultra messy, dangerous business of confronting gangs with the truth about Jesus.  He had many hair raising moments but he won their trust and their hearts for Jesus.

To walk humbly with our God in these days when low self esteem is considered a disadvantage in many church programs where leadership is taught, is a difficult way of life.  However, we were never called to be leaders, we have our leader and His name is Jesus.  We are called to follow Him.  His ways are contrary to the world's ways and we need to change to conform to Him.

To conform to Jesus we need to study how He behaved towards people, what He loved, what angered Him.  He walked 204 miles to minister to a Samaritan women drawing water at a well.  He fought against religion, He went out to heal the sick and deliver from demons.  He said follow Me.  Paul said follow me as I follow Christ.  He never abused women, He never lied, cheated, slandered nor cursed.

Let us start this year by humbling ourselves to follow Jesus and heeding every word that came out of His mouth.  Let us consciously change from being afraid to go through doors where some unknown thing will occur and rather trust Jesus to go before us to prepare our way.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I dedicate this year to You, to start afresh, to be a follower of Jesus, willing to do His bidding, reaching out to the needy and extending His Kingdom. Thank You for the opportunity to partake in seeking the prize of a high calling to become a useful instrument in Your hands.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.