Make a commitment to the Lord, to bring him honor and glory in all that you do. Commit to him your obedience. He will guide you in the way you should go.
Psalm 90:12 has something to teach us about time.
As we start the new year, it is good to consider time and how we use it. God, who created time and lives outside of it, is eternal.
We, in contrast, are given finite lives here on earth. Moses in this Psalm prays and asks God to show him how to consider carefully the time given to us.
Only God knows how much time we have on earth. Though we don’t know the day of our death, we can know how to live and live abundantly through Jesus Christ. Accepting our limited lifespan will lead us to seek God’s wisdom everyday.
We need God’s wisdom to teach us:
– that our days are fleeting and precious
– how to make use of our time for God’s glory and his Kingdom
– how to live in light of God’s love, mercy and saving power.
Yes, Lord, show us how to properly number our days so we can focus on receiving and following your wisdom.
Here we are at the beginning of a new calendar year. Another January. What is it about starting a new year that makes us want to resolve to do something differently, to become someone new?
The truth is, we are always looking to remake ourselves. We have habits we try to break and activities we want to do more of. We want better relationships, health and bank accounts year-round.
The longing for newness seems more acute, more demanding of our attention at this time as we are surrounded with talk of New Year’s resolutions. There is more hopefulness at this time of year. This will be the time that we FINALLY do it, finally become the new person we want to be.
Reality Hits Hard
The problem is, statistics tell us that most New Year’s resolutions will fail to be kept. Disappointment will follow. Yet we seem destined to repeat the same mistake year after year.
Gym memberships go unused, books unread and relationships neglected again. The clutter reappears, credit card balances are back up and bank accounts are back down.
What is the answer to this cycle?
How can we ever change?
Our Only Hope
The Bible gives us the answer and it is not a “what” to do but a “who”:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
The good news is we can remake ourselves any time of the year! January 1 or June 1, anyone can become a new person, created anew.
In Christ, we WILL be remade into his image and likeness. (Romans 8:29) To do this, we must leave behind the old and become new. God’s Word promises that he will be faithful to do this.
He will not leave his work in us unfinished.
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, NIV)
Tips For Your Successful New Year
The secret is this: get on God’s schedule for transformation according to his resolutions for your life. The Holy Spirit within you as a child of God was given for your guidance and the power to do all that God commands you to do.
Humble and grateful obedience in the areas God directs you to change will lead to lasting transformation in your life. The problem is, God’s directions don’t always sound like the world’s admonitions. You may want to focus on eating less but God more likely wants you to focus more on reading his word daily or feeding those in need.
Interestingly, God’s way will often get you to your desired results but in a way that is more beneficial than the way you would have chosen. Give God a chance to work in your life in this New Year.
Through Bible reading, prayer and fellowship with other Jesus-followers, continually seek God’s guidance in the changes he wants to see in your life. Seek first and primarily to please God by building his KIngdom and becoming righteous in him and God will give you the desires of your heart.
Happy New Year.
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5
Are Life and Light Needed?
As a baby laying in a manger in a barn, was Jesus really the Light and Life of the entire world? Weren’t light and life already present in the world? Yes, but not in the perfect way God intended.
John wants us to think deeply about this. He just recorded Jesus’ role in creation. He wants us to continue thinking about that time as we consider Jesus as Light and Life.
In chapter one of Genesis, God created life and light. Life and light were part of the perfect world God created for humanity in the Garden of Eden. God’s perfection was soon marred by man’s sin at The Fall.
From the time of The Fall to the birth of Jesus, the world awaited the promised Messiah, a Savior to deliver man from the death and darkness of sin and it’s consequences.
The Baby Brings What is Most Needed
Jesus, the baby in the manger, is that Messiah. He came to bring perfect light and everlasting life back into the world. True life is one lived with God, through God and for God into eternity. God’s light is one that cannot be extinguished and it draws people to him. All the perfect Life and Light came to earth as Jesus, a little baby of promise and power.
How are light and life related in Jesus Christ? Jesus’ life on earth, starting with his birth in a barn, was the light to dispel the darkness of sin. The light of Jesus came into the world that all might have life and have it more abundantly. Both Jesus’ light and life were shared that the world might be saved.
Thank you Jesus, for being my life and my light!
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:3
When you think of Jesus, you may not immediately think of the Creator of the universe. Yet, John in his Gospel established Jesus’ identity as absolute Creator. As John described Jesus’ role in Creation, his readers would think back to the beginning of the Bible, Genesis 1, when God by his word created the everything from nothing.
“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3, NIV)
The psalmist continues the theme as the Word of God as creator:
“By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” (Psalm 33:6, NIV)
In Hebrews, God revealed himself through his Son, the Creator of the worlds:
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1–2, NIV)
Paul further declares the role of Jesus in creation:
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16, NIV)
“yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” (1 Corinthians 8:6, NIV)
Beyond the initial creation of the world, John states that Jesus is also responsible for all that was made since then. He says, “without him nothing was made that has been made”. Jesus alludes to this when he tells his disciples that nothing can be done without him.
““I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, NIV)
Baby Jesus, born in a stable and then wrapped in simple cloths, was the one who created all things. He was God himself, coming into the world he created for mankind. Jesus the Almighty Creator, took the form of a man and came to earth so that our sins would be forgiven and we could have a relationship with God the Father. What love was seen in that crude manger in the barn!
Yes, there is mystery to the trinity of God, three distinct persons in one God. Yet John wants us to understand that Jesus with God the Father played an important role in creation. This is one more way that John establishes the divinity of Jesus for his audience.
As you enjoy the beauty of nature this Christmas season, give praise to Jesus for his Creation.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
John 1:1-2 (KJV)
The fantastic Good News of the Christmas message is found in the beginning of John’s Gospel. John, a Jew living among Greeks, wanted to reveal the identity of Jesus. The way he chose to approach this revelation was revolutionary in it’s depth and simplicity. By describing Jesus as the Word, the Logos, he was able to cross the cultural divide between the Greeks and the Jews and show a new dimension to the term.
John knew that in Jewish thought and life the Word signified:
1. Power. The Word was living and active. Words had great power throughout the New Testament. It was the Word of God that bought the universe into existence. Jesus is the power of creation.
2. Wisdom. The Word was the wisdom that was there since the beginning of time. This wisdom has a role in creation. Jesus is wisdom.
3. God. In Jewish religious ceremony at the time of John, the term “Word of God” was often used to describe God. The Targum translation, in widespread use at that time, used “Word of God” to replace every mention of God that referred to him in a human way (anthropomorphism). Jesus is God.
In Greek philosophy, Logos referred to reason. Reason or Logos was the invisible force that ordered the universe and all that happened within it. Without Logos, the world would be in chaos. Logos had a personal role in ruling the thoughts and lives of every human being. It also dictated the creation and maintenance of the universe. John, in the first few verses of his Gospel, brings his Greek readers to the astounding conclusion that Jesus fulfilled all the roles the they assigned to Logos because Jesus was Logos.
Verses 1 and 2 show 3 important things about the identity of Jesus. The:
1. Eternity of Jesus
2. Fellowship of Jesus (with the Father)
3. Divinity of Jesus
Jesus has always existed. He is eternal and outside of time. He could be there at the beginning because he had no beginning. John wanted his readers to understand that unlike any Greek god or created being, Jesus was “the God who is”.
Jesus exists with God the Father. Both are outside of time and have existed since the beginning. The fellowship of the Father with Jesus is an important theme throughout the book of John.
Jesus is God. He is fully divine as God. One with God, he shares all the attributes of God. John’s entire Gospel is designed to show us that Jesus is God.
In verses 1 and 2, John sets the foundation of who Jesus is. Come back for the next lesson as he continues on this journey.
Confused or surprised that enemies are coming against you?Jesus said that his followers will have enemies in this world. His prophetic words came true for his first followers, most of whom were martyred.
It was important that Jesus warn his followers of the trials to come. He didn’t want them unprepared. Jesus wants us to count the cost of following him just as a man plans the costs of building a tower (Luke 14:28-29).
Opposition from enemies will come from many places.
- Jesus said the world will hate his followers. The world signifies those who are not preoccupied with the things of God, those whose affections are on the things of this world, the things we can touch, see and hear.
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. John 15:18-19
- Even those closest to you, those who should have the most fierce love for you and protect you will turn against you. God’s natural plan for family is distorted by anger.
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Matthew 10:21
For I have come to turn
“ ‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Matthew 10:35
For deeper study
Jesus echoed Micah 7 which also gives the answer to dealing with these enemies:
For a son dishonors his father,
a daughter rises up against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.
But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,
I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me.
Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light.
- Jesus said in summary that you will be hated by “all”, meaning many, even those in unexpected places.
“You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Mark 13:13
Where is the good news in this guarantee of enemies?
- We are like our beloved Master, Jesus, when we suffer at the hand of enemies.
Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. John 15:20
Suffering at the hands of enemies is a privilege. Our Master, Jesus, went through the same thing. We are blessed to be united with him and we will have to be part of his suffering because of this blessed unity. We are being conformed into the likeness of Christ and dealing with enemies is one way God uses to get us there.
- We are guaranteed ultimate triumph over our enemies because we have eternal life with God. Jesus elsewhere said that his apostles should not fear those who can only kill the body (Matthew 10:28) but rely on the keeper of the soul and the One who can destroy it.
…the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Mark 13:13b
Jesus brings comfort in the face of enemies by reminding his followers that those who endure the suffering that lasts for a moment, will ultimately experience the salvation of eternal life and joy in him.
Stay tuned for the next section of this discussion and we look at the ways Jesus tells us to deal with our enemies.
“After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”” (Luke 22:17–19, NIV)
The scene is a somber one but filled with love. Jesus knows he must leave his beloved apostles soon. He yet has much to share with them.
Jesus with the twelve apostles prepared to celebrate the Passover meal, sacred because it commemorated God’s great power in freeing his people from Egyptian slavery.
But God was soon to perform an even greater miracle. Through the sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus, the whole world might be saved.
It is in the midst of this sacred scene that Jesus gives thanks to his father. Before passing around the cup of wine to be shared, Jesus gave thanks. Similarly, before passing around the bread to be shared, Jesus gave thanks.
In this foreshadowing of his death, offering up his body and blood, gratitude flowed from the heart and mouth of Jesus.
Facing the most difficult time of his earthly life, Jesus took the time to give thanks.
Do you thank God in the midst of trials? I have found that doing so allows me to shift my focus off my trial and to all that God has provided me.
Jesus gave thanks in the presence Judas, the one who would betray him and send him to a painful, humiliating death.
Even in the presence of your enemies, thank God for who he is and all he has done.
Thank like Jesus did.
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
The scene is at first a sad one. Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus died. They sent for Jesus to come heal their brother when he fell ill but Jesus didn’t arrive before Lazarus succumbed to death.
Everyone is upset and many were confused. They saw Jesus perform many miracles. Surely he could have saved this one whom he loved dearly!
As before the miraculous feeding of the multitude, Jesus takes his time to proceed decently and in order. Everyone around him is overcome with grief. But Jesus will not be rushed. He knows he will do a miracle but he takes the time to thank his Father first.
Why? So that all who were listening would understand that he was sent by Father and only acts in obedience to the Father. The listeners also heard Jesus’ approach to the Father, gratitude. After Jesus gave thanks to God, the Father, he miraculously raised Lazarus from the dead.
Sometimes you need a miracle to come to you or through you. Expect God to do the impossible. Take the time to acknowledge and thank God for what he is going to do.