Day: January 2, 2012

Pressing on, leaving the past…

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The mercies of the Lord are new every morning.  The clock keeps ticking and the calendar keeps turning pages and will do so until Christ comes for us or we go to Him.

Each new year, we look back at what happened with some regrets, some nostalgia, some wishes that things could remain what they once were.  But with the promises of God, our great expectations are always in Him and with Him in this moment.  Fear of the future drives many to despise change and long for the past–selectively remembered, of course!  But our hope rests in the plans God has for us and the confidence that we are His workmanship, that He is still working out His purposes in our lives.

In the book of Exodus, the children of Israel could not understand that.  They kept wanting to go back to Egypt where life had been grueling, but familiar–painful, but predictable.  Now they were in a position that forced them to trust the Lord and believe that He would be faithful to His promises.

I recently remembered a song by Sara Groves, first recorded over a decade ago, entitled “Painting Pictures of Egypt” in which she describes our tendency to revise the past so that we prefer its known difficulties to the possible hardships of an unknown future.  The lesson is simple…trust the Lord, and put Paul’s words into practice, “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Hope you enjoy the message of this song!

Oils: Biltmore House

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Biltmore House, 2010

A New Year Anchored in the Word

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As you begin 2012, your desire to stay on track for an effective year will depend on the path you follow.   Followers of Jesus Christ have a commitment to live in the freedom of eternal truth.  Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32).  Therefore, it is essential to your spiritual well-being that you have a plan for the new year to know His truth and apply it in all areas of your life.

The way you incorporate the Scriptures into your life will go a long way in determining the progress you make as you conform to the image of Christ.  So what will your plan include this year?

Personal time in the Word provides the most basic foundation for your spiritual growth so it will be important to put a plan in place that takes you to the Bible each day to read, reflect, meditate and apply what you learn. 

Family time in the Word establishes a priority that speaks volumes in your home about the place the Lord has in your life together, so you will want to set regular times for reading and discussing His Word as a part of your weekly routine.

Corporate times with other believers hearing the Word taught and preached in the context of public worship has to be given a place of high value for you and your family as you share life in Christ with others who are being built up together to maturity in Christ.

If you want some help scheduling a way to read through the Bible in a year, there are many plans available for you.  I have enjoyed using one by Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a 19th century Scottish pastor.  It takes you through the entire Bible, once through the Old Testament and twice through the New Testament.  Another plan you might like has been put together by Wayne Cordeiro, pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Oahu, called Life Journal Reading Plan (both plans and many others are available at http://www.youversion.com/reading-plans/life-journal-reading-plan).

Since this is the second day of the new year, you can get started now and catch up quickly if you want to follow a annual plan.

Others may want to follow a more concentrated reading plan, reading less and digesting more.  Some have found great help in digging into the New Testament more deeply and then supplementing that with readings in the Psalms and Proverbs.  That is a great plan…just don’t forget about the wealth of the Old Testament and devote some additional reading time there as you can!

Just remember the great value the Lord gives to keeping His Word in its rightful place in your life!  Perhaps this word from Joshua will spur you on as it has me.

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it;  for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8).