Our Chief Purpose in the New Year

happy-new-year-seeing-deep

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Who do you want to BE in 2017?

Scripture of the Day:

Ecclesiastes 12:13

“Having heard everything, I have reached this conclusion: Fear God and keep his commandments, because this is the whole duty of man.”

On the cusp of a new year, what are your hopes and dreams? What do you hope to accomplish? More importantly, who do you want to BE in 2017?

If we were made to enjoy His presence and to love and worship Him, do we have plans for that occupation in the new year?

Simply put, our whole purpose is to know God, make Him known, to fear Him and keep His commandments. That word fear is not a popular word these days  – or ever, for that matter.

But this fear is not like the the feat that evil brings. It is a Holy reverence at Who God is and an awareness that He sees and knows us completely. How then, ought we to live?

Like David, my prayer is that God would, “Examine me, and probe my thoughts! Test me, and know my concerns! See if there is any idolatrous tendency in me, and lead me in the reliable ancient path!” (Psalm 139:23-24).

This is my prayer for 2017, that we would not be deceived, but would see our great need of our Holy, awesome God – and live FULLY for Him.

Happy New Year, friends. Live well and completely for His glory. There is no other path that can bring us the joy of the LORD.

Oh God, thank You for revealing our need of You. Help us to draw nearer to You in this coming year and to make You famous! May we faithfully share Your love and not be distracted by civilian affairs or attacks of the enemy. Protect Your people and help us to stay focused on what matters – knowing and loving You and one another!

 

Christmas Count”Up” Day 16: He Showed us How to Give

Hebrews 10:4-7

For the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins.  5 So when he came into the world, he said, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me. 6 Whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you took no delight in. 7 “Then I said, ‘Here I am: I have come – it is written of me in the scroll of the book – to do your will, O God.’” 

Hebrews 10:11-14

11 And every priest stands day after day serving and offering the same sacrifices again and again – sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand  of God, 13 where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy.

Giving gifts comes naturally for some and is more difficult for others.  We ponder what it is that will bless the other person’s socks off, but also have to consider other variables, like cost and availability.  Christ demonstrated so much in His giving that we all can seek to aspire to.

He gave willingly.  Sacrificially.  Selflessly.  Humbly. His gift was costly – beyond measure.  He gave to those who were His enemies.  His gift was so profound, He only had to give it once and it supplied our need for all eternity.  He did so out of obedience.  There is no comparison between a gift like that and anything we could ever give, but there are aspects of His gift giving that we can aspire to.

I take delight in buying gifts for those I love and for those I do not know.  Bringing joy to someone else makes me happy; especially if I can discover something that their heart has been secretly yearning for.  Sometimes, though, Christmas can be a let-down in our material world.  Maybe we don’t get what we are wanting or others we give gifts to feel less than thrilled with what they have received.  What then?

We can pull out the argument that starving children would be thankful, or contemplate what Jesus gave us, but ultimately, it all comes back to gratitude in the recognition that we never deserved a gift in the first place.  It is not even our birthday – it is His.  And He chose to give Himself away on that day.

What does He want us to give in return?  Our hearts to Him.  He has pursued us with a relentless, unconditional love.  May we give of ourselves in such a manner, all for His glory.

Lord, thank You for showing us how to give.  Help us to have Your heart of giving this Christmas and every day of the year.

Worshipful Wednesday: Christmas Countdown Day 3 – Victory over Depression during Christmas

Photo Credits scottegbert.com

Photo Credits
scottegbert.com

Psalm 124:1

“If the Lord had not been on our side”— let Israel say this!— if the Lord had not been on our side, when men attacked us,
they would have swallowed us alive, when their anger raged against us. The water would have overpowered us; the current would have overwhelmed us.  The raging water would have overwhelmed us. The Lord deserves praise, for he did not hand us over as prey to their teeth. We escaped with our lives, like a bird from a hunter’s snare. The snare broke, and we escaped. Our deliverer is the Lordthe Creator of heaven and earth.”

Christmas can be a difficult time for many.  The celebration of Christmas does not deliver what we hoped.  Painful memories echo in our minds of family members who left us or harmed us.  Thoughts of what should have been or could have been – regrets and dreads can loom large and steal our joy.  Maybe you do not even want to read this or dare to hope that there could actually be real joy at Christmas – keep reading.  The world offers many solutions for this emptiness of our soul. Entertainment, satisfying the flesh, avoiding the pain.  God’s prescription is quite different – feel the pain in all of our humanity, but come to Him, Who can heal our souls.  It is not a “just be happy” or just “choose to be happy” solution, but it is a choice to come to God and a real answer in the face of real pain.

On Wednesdays I always read from the book of Psalms.  A songwriter myself, I cherish David’s songs – a heart cry to His LORD. If anyone understands what it is to have emotional torment, it is David.  He could have been diagnosed with many labels in his day – PTSD, panic and anxiety disorders, even depression.  He said as much in many of the Psalms.  But He was looking to One who he knew would resolve the battle within.  David demonstrated again and again what looking to God for help would do – give hope and peace – even joy again.

That is what Christ does for us.  He offers us hope through His trustworthy promises and deliverance.  Christ understands suffering, too, and when we look to the Christ child this Christmas, we see a God Who is our Master, but Who also walks beside us.  He chooses to call us friend – we are friends with a King!  Now a King can grant any request – so it is with our God.  Happiness at Christmas or any other time is not based on getting what we want, but on being content with what God has allowed.  We can trust Him and He can bring real lasting joy more than a day ever could.

Pain is real – what do we do with it?  The pain may not be absent and scars might last the rest of our days, but there is a healing balm in Jerusalem found in an infant Who changes our heart, understanding and perspective.  The compassion gained through our pain is a beautiful gift we lay at the feet of our baby King, and He is pleased.  May we lay down our idols as gifts much like Frankincense, gold and Myrrh, of what we wanted from life and Christmas and humbly accept the gift of life that God has given us.  This is when joy enters our soul and we are relieved of the burden we have been holding onto. Give it all to Him and ask Him to help deliver you.  He will do it and His grace is sufficient to all who call on His Name.  It is going to be a Merry Christmas, after all, friend.

Thank You, LORD, for the amazing gift of your baby Son.  What a treasure, what a delight!  We lay our burdens at Your feet and trust You with all of what life brings our way.  Amen.

#curefordepression