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(Psalms 65:11) “Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.”
As I read this verse it reminds me of the hymn “Count your many blessings, name them one by one.” With every year that passes, we are reminded of several blessings, and the conclusion of them all is that God is always Good.
Here are a few things to remember as we enter into the new year:
A. A Time to Remember our Creator
(Ecclesiastes 12:1) “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;”
It’s spiritually healthy to remember that God is the source of our life; without the Creator God we would not have life at all. Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created…”
To forget our Creator is to forget the God that is over us.
(Psalms 100:2-3) “Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Vs3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”
B. A Time to Reflect on the Works and Wonders of God
(Psalms 77:11-12) “I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. Vs 12 I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”
God has been too good, and we cannot thank Him enough. Notice the goodness of God.
1. God has redeemed us from the bondage of sin which brings death and Hell. Revelation 1:18
2. God has attributed His righteousness to us through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
3. God has made us privileged people by putting us into the ministry to serve Him. 1 Timothy 1:12
4. God is preparing a place for us. John 14:1-4
We can go on and on about God’s works to us. Let us reflect on God’s goodness, not on our expectations, and we won’t be disappointed.
C. A Time to be Reassured that our Time on Earth is Short.
Time is short, especially when we compare it to eternity. (Psalms 89:47) “Remember how short my time is:” God’s people are encouraged by the Word of God to focus our desire on things above. Colossians 3:1-3
(Psalms 90:12) “”So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
Wisdom is to live with Eternity in view. Wisdom is to live for God’s glory. Wisdom is to live by God’s power, and Wisdom is to live in the Will of God. Amen!
(James 4:14-15) “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. Vs 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
D. A Time to be Refreshed to Press Forward by God’s Power
(Philippians 3:13-15) “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, vs 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. vs 16 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”
We are admonished to have the same mind that God renewed in the Apostle Paul. It is a mind to keep on keeping on, to keep growing in Christ, having our eyes/hearts fixed upon Him. It is a danger to come to a point where we think we have arrived. Our faith in Christ must always be stretched by God’s power to do God’s Work in a Christ-like way. God help us from going through the motions. God help us from going backwards. God help us press forward by His power. God is able.
Philippians 2:2 “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”
As we serve the Lord and one another, the Lord desires us to be in the “same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”
This love and mindset is not self-seeking, but rather it is to be other-esteeming; it is unconditional. It expects nothing in return. We never ought to serve to get gain, or do a good deed to be praised. We should never keep a list of what we have done for others to use it against them.
Romans 12:9 “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”
We must love and serve without hypocrisy. This love is to be genuine. We are to serve others for others.
Romans 12:10 “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;”
Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory;
Frustration and resentment will start to build up in a person’s life when they serve to be seen. Some will only serve to be seen or they will not serve at all. The Bible mentions that this is vain. Remember, we are all servants of the Lord, and we must seek to serve for God’s glory. If we have God’s glory in mind when we serve, we will be able to serve others better and esteem them better than ourselves.
Colossians 3:22-23 “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: vs 23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;”
Philippians 2:4 “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
We all have a specific part to play in the body of Christ. One person is a foot, another a hand, and another is an eye, etc. We are to seek to help each other become all that God has planned to be in the Body. I have never seen any of my body parts not willing to help each other. When I have an itch on my leg, I use my hand to scratch it to bring some relief. I use my eyes to help me see what happened to my sore arm. When I seek to serve others with love I fulfil the Law of Christ. We are to have a heart that rejoices to see others used and blest by God and for God’s glory.
How can this be done? How can we esteem others better than self?
The Mind of Christ!
Philippians 2:5 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”
If we are to have the mind of Christ we are to maintain a close walk with God and His Word. Jesus is the greatest example to us; He lived a life that was fully submitted to the will of the Heavenly Father.
(Philippians 2:6) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Philippians 2:7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Jesus Christ (who is God) was willing to become a servant in the likeness of a Man. What an amazing testimony! God demonstrates what it truly means to esteem others better than self. God was willing to be poor so we could be rich in Christ. God was willing to be a servant so we could be joint-heirs with Christ.
Obedient unto death
(Philippians 2:8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Jesus submitted to the Heavenly Father’s divine plan; however, with that submission came sacrifice. To esteem others better than ourselves means we must sacrifice.
Dr. J.H. Jowett said, “Ministry that costs nothing accomplishes nothing.” If we want to have a ministry toward God and others that truly matters, we have to be willing to make sacrifices and pay the price. This is having the Mind of Christ.
Negative thinking: Nobody cares
Positive thinking: Everybody cares
Biblical thinking: God cares
1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
Negative thinking: I am nothing
Positive thinking I am something
Biblical thinking: I am made by God
Psalm 139:14 “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works…”
Negative thinking: I am not sufficient
Positive thinking: I am sufficient
Biblical thinking: God is my Sufficiency
2 Corinthians 3:5 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;”
Negative thinking: I cannot change
Positive thinking: I can change
Biblical thinking: In Christ I can change
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Negative thinking: I am a looser
Positive thinking: I am a winner
Biblical thinking: I have victory in Christ
1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Negative thinking: I can’t wait
Positive thinking: I will wait
Biblical thinking: I’ll wait on the Lord
Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”
Negative thinking: God won’t forgive me
Positive thinking: God will forgive me
Biblical thinking: God can forgive me
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Negative thinking: I will fail
Positive thinking: I will succeed
Biblical thinking: I must obey
Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
Negative thinking: I am fearful
Positive thinking: I fear nothing
Biblical thinking: God is with me
Joshua 1:9 “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Negative thinking: I can’t do it
Positive thinking: You can do it
Biblical thinking: I can do it through Christ alone.
Nehemiah 6:9 “For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.”
As we strive to put God first in all that we do and seek to bring Glory to God by the way we live, we will face various discouragements. Nehemiah had discouragement come his way as he was doing the Work of God. Sanballat and Tobiah found out that the “walls of Jerusalem” were being rebuilt, and they wanted to make sure it didn’t happen. So they invented lies (that he was planning to cause a revolt against the king, and that he wanted to be king) about Nehemiah to cause him to fear so the work would cease.
Nehemiah 6:8 “Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart.”
The devil at some point will use someone (whether they know it or not) to discourage you from the work of God. They will falsely accuse you and pursue you so that you would be fearful. This is to weaken and cripple you so will not be effective in the Work of God. Remember, the enemy does not want you to be used for God’s glory.
What do we do when we are discouraged?
1. Cry out to God
Nehemiah 6:9 “For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.”
King David was accustomed to cry out to God when he was discouraged. Either by his enemies or by his own sin. Psalm 59:1-12
2. Continue to do right
Nehemiah 6:10-11 “Afterward I came unto the house of She-ma-iah the son of De-la-iah the son of Me-het-a-beel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee. Vs 11 And I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.”
Nehemiah didn’t need to hide like a criminal as if he was guilty of the accusation. These were just lies trying to manipulate Nehemiah to do wrong.
Nehemiah 6:13 “Therefore was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me.”
Fear can grip our hearts and therefore cause us to react and act in haste with our decisions; fear can leads us in a way that demonstrate a lack of Faith in God. As a result we can lose our testimony, and defame the name of God…Nehemiah knew that God will not encourage him to do wrong and go hide in the Temple of God. Nehemiah 6:12 “And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him…”
Cry out to God, Continue to do right, and God will give you the grace you need to battle against discouragement.
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
3. Commit the Discourages to God
Notice how Nehemiah goes to God in prayer, entrusting his discouragers - Tobiah and Sanballat – into God’s hands.
Nehemiah 6:14 “My God, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the prophetess Noa-diah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear.”
As the temptation arises to try clear your name, resist the urge and leave it to God…As the flesh desires to move forward to avenge itself, pull back and leave it to God.
Romans 12:17-19 “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. Vs 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Vs 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
When you react the enemy has you where he wants you. They want you to act in fear. They want you to make hastily decision, greatest of all, they want you to lose your testimony.
Notice what happens when you choose to cry out to God, continue to do right, and commit them in God’s Hands.
Nehemiah 6:15 “So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days.”
Nehemiah 6:16 “And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.”
You’re able to finish the work God has entrusted to you, and your discouragers will see God’s power and know that they cannot prevail against Him or God’s people. The way you respond as a Christian will play a big part in the eyes of others. Let people see Jesus in you!
1 Timothy 6:10-12 “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Vs 11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Vs 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”
As Christians we are engaged in a spiritual warfare. We are to battle against the things that would war against our souls. One of those things the Bible mentions is “fleshly lust.”
1 Peter 2:11 “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;”
There are many Christians who are not as serious about the things of God as they used to be because they have been entangled with the affairs of this life; making money the priority rather than making Jesus preeminent.
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down, How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit—
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.—Anonymous
2 Timothy 2:1-4 “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Vs 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Vs 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Vs 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
Remember the fight that we are in is a “good fight;” do not be distracted from the things of God. Keep eternally focused.
1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…”