Friday, December 30, 2016

The End is better than its Beginning

The end of a thing is better than its beginning;” Ecclesiastes 7:8 “
As I reflected on the end of the year 2016, I thought of Solomon’s words.   Now I know some would like to say that a proper translation of that verse is that the end of a sermon is better than its beginning and while I am not sure that is sound translation, I can’t disagree with the point.  I have also preached a few sermons in which I was simply glad to make it to the end. But even more than in sermons, this point can be seen in life.

Maybe you traveled over the Christmas holidays. If so, you know that the end of a trip is infinitely better than the beginning. It always feels so good to come back home and know that all the hours in the car are behind me.  Imagine a ship that leaves for a far port.  When it returns with all its cargo, the captain knows just what storms they weathered in the trip.  He remembers nearly running aground or being swamped.  He recalls the three nights they spent without ever seeing the stars and three days without the sun.  For him, the end of the voyage is clearly better than the beginning.

Or perhaps, we should think of a soldier, going off to war.  Is not the end of a thing better than the beginning for that soldier?  How he longs to complete his tour and be safely home!  This point is obviously true in so many instances in life but it is not absolutely true. It must be taken with a grain of salt.  Some people look at the beginning and ask, “Will the end really be any better?”

Maybe you know the storms of 2016 and you are afraid of what the storms of 2017 will bring.  Will I be able to bear up under them?  Will I have less or more at the end of the year?  How will my family be affected this year?  Yet, Solomon says, no matter how bad the beginning is, the end is always better.

In our growth as believers, most Christians have more trials early in their Christian walk rather than late.  And all of us are growing in our Christian walk.  Lamentations 3:27 “It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.”  If you wake up in the morning and the sun is behind the clouds, you don’t assume that the sun will never shine again.  And, if you are in a dark period of your life, don’t despair, the sun will shine again.

Take this verse from The Message as a prophecy to give you hope and dispel your fears: I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out--plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. (Jeremiah 29:11)

The end of the matter will be better than the beginning. God is still in charge.   The past is history, the future’s a mystery, but God has given us this moment, that’s why it’s called the present.  It is in this time that God will move us toward that end that He has promised.  So let’s keep our eyes on the prize and move into this year with the understanding that God has a plan and a purpose for today and our future.

Scripture to Claim:

Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:31)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

No Fear for 2017

Submitted by David Miller

God's Word brings us a comforting promise, along with an insightful command as we face a new year: "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me (Hebrews 13:5-6).
In the midst of life, we can find ourselves becoming afraid of what tomorrow holds as it relates to the economy, world turmoil, ISIS, and our families.  However, we can live this coming year without fear if we apply three incredible truths to our lives and root them deep into our hearts.  Here they are. 
The Contentment of His Provision
Contentment is not getting what you want, but it is wanting what you already have. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 says, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us therewith be content." If you know Jesus Christ, you have contentment. If you've got clothes on your back, something to eat, and Jesus Christ in your heart, you're rich!
Do you know why we have fear? Because we think our needs or the needs of someone we love are not going to be met. Or we fear that the things we think are meeting our needs are going to be taken away from us. The deepest need of your heart can only be met in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Companionship of His Presence
I don’t know what the future holds but I do know Who holds the future.  I don't know what I'm going to face next year. But there's one thing I know, He will never leave me. 
When God's Word promises that God will never forsake you, it literally means that He will never abandon you. He will not give up on you. We need to practice the presence of the Lord this coming year. When the devil comes and knocks at our mind's door, you can simply say, "Jesus, please go answer the door."
The Confidence of His Promise
It is the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God that we can have complete confidence in this upcoming year. In the coming year, when you say, "God, I just don't have the strength." The omnipotent God will answer, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." When you say, "God, I'm afraid of what is going to happen." The omnipresent God says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." And when you say, "God, I don't know what to do." The omniscient God will respond, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." He himself hath said it.
Hebrews 13:6 promises, "So that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."

Like I said earlier, I don't know what you're going to go through this coming year. But I know you can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”  When you find your contentment, companionship, and confidence in Jesus. Then, you'll find your comfort, your strength and your courage in Jesus.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

"How was your Christmas? What did you get?"

Submitted by David Miller

These 2 questions will be the ones most frequently asked of you in the aftermath of Christmas Day. Say, "Great!" Talk about your new toys. But why not then usher in the New Year by telling someone about the gift God gave you in the Christ of Christmas.
The text of 1 John 4 emphasizes the gift God has given everyone who chooses to receive it. It also provides a simple outline to guide your conversations with others about Christ.  I would like to share it with you. 
1. "God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him." (1 John 4:9, New Living Translation) The gift of Christ demonstrates God's great love for us as well as the promise of everlasting life.
2. "This is real love -- not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." (1 John 4:10, NLT) Christ was born with a specific purpose -- to die a sacrificial death on the cross that would allow for the forgiveness of all who would believe in Him.
3. "And God has given us His Spirit as proof that we live in Him and He in us." (1 John 4:13, NLT) Christ no longer walks among us in human form, yet Christians do not live alone. God's Holy Spirit is available as an ever-present comforter, counselor and guide.
4. "Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God." (1 John 4:14, 15, NLT) Just as any gift must be received, God has invited everyone to receive His gift of a Savior in Jesus.
Christmas may have come and gone, but it is not too late for you to tell others of Jesus in ways that authenticate God's deep love for you and them. Most people know of the Christ in the manger. Today you could tell somebody the rest of the story -- that of His life, death and resurrection.
Re-gift it. Rewrap it. Use the same ribbon and bow. It's okay.

It is a type of re-gifting God would want you to do.

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