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New Year, New You

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That time has rolled around again, New Year’s. This time of year almost always has everyone thinking about all the new things they’re going to do or try. We’re all professing these audacious goals of learning a new language or eating clean/healthier, exercising or traveling more, quit smoking (cold turkey), spend more time with loved ones or even reading more etc, etc, ect. I know I’m definitely guilty of several of these resolutions. I’ll probably get a couple weeks into January and then, boom, I quit. Life happens, and I get distracted and allow those tiny setbacks to hold me back from what I had set out to do in the upcoming year. So many of us go through this very cycle, but rarely do we do the deep dive to examine what is truly at the root of us not accomplishing our goals. 

Perhaps the is the problem right there. We are trying to accomplish “Our” goals. Where is God in this process? Very seldom are our resolutions ones that include God. I’m not saying that there is something wrong with having goals; just that we shouldn’t lose sight of who our source is and where we ought to go to draw our strength from which will ultimately allow us to actually realize those goals. Psalm 28:8 reads “The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for is anointed one.” NIV. I believe we should always have a plan for every aspect of our life if we plan on being successful in that area. I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying “Failure to plan, is a plan to fail.” I would venture to say that we should take it a step further and write down our goals. Habukuk 2:2 read in part “…Write the vision, and make it plain upon tablets, that he may run who readth it.” KJV.

We all have been put here on earth for a purpose. The main purpose is to Glorify the One and True Living God. Practically, we do that by the way we chose to live our life daily. Sometimes we try to plan out our whole lives and then get frustrated when things aren’t going according to our timetable. Have we lost sight of what God said in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,“ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” NIV. Now, granted this was a message was sent to the elders and priests who were exiled from Jerusalem through the prophet, Jeremiah. Nonetheless, I believe that just as God had a plan for them, He has a plan for us.

When we set resolutions, I think another oversight on our part is that it isn’t enough to just say and write down what we want to achieve for the New Year. We must actually DO IT. There’s a level of sacrifice that it’s going to be necessary to obtain/realize what we want. We can’t remain the same if we want new life experiences. We have to be willing to give up those old habits in order to make room for the new ones. Surrendering ourselves as a living sacrifice is how we’ll be able to get there. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” As you’ve heard before, “Old habits die hard”. It’s true, however, it’s unrealistic for us to think that we can have/maintain the new things in our lives while operating under the old distorted mindsets and wicked ways we once had.

The great news is that Jesus is the way to a new, joyous and prosperous life. He is the answer to all of life’s questions. Putting God first is the key to true success and fulfillment. Refer to Matthew 6:33, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” I thank God for sending His son, Jesus who chose to lay down is life as a sacrifice for you and me. Without him, I was destined to spend eternity without him. I invited Him into my life to transform me and you can do the same. The gift of salvation can only come from accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. My suggestion for this New Year is to get those priorities in line and become a new creation in Christ, like Paul in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ live in me. The life in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 

Be blessed, may this upcoming New Year be brighter than the last and most importantly may the love of Jesus Christ lead you into becoming a New You.

'Tis the Season

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It’s that time of year again.  The Christmas season is upon us and the big day is drawing near.   At this point, you can’t go down a street without seeing homes lit up and inflatable reindeer on front lawns.  Neighborhood streets are crowded with Amazon delivery trucks as far as the eye can see.  But what does this season mean for us as the church?  As we are in the season of Advent, it is important for us as believers to reflect on the miracle of the birth of Christ in context.  We must ask ourselves a simple question…Why did Christ come?  

One of my favorite worship songs has always been In Christ Alone.  The lyrics are theologically rich and God-honoring.  The hymn has understandably become a staple in many churches across the world.  In 2013 though, there was some controversy surrounding the song.  The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (PCUSA), seeing how popular the hymn was, desired to include it in their hymnal.  There was one problem, they wanted to change the lyrics.  The second verse included the line, “Til on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.”  The PCUSA Hymnal Committee decided that they would only include the hymn if they would be able to change the lyrics to “Til on that cross as Jesus died, the love of God was magnified.”  (Original lyrics below)

"In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live"

Thankfully the writers of the song, Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, denied the request and kept the original lyrics thus keeping the hymn out of the PCUSA Hymnal.  It begs the question though…Why would PCUSA want the lyrics changed?  The culture in which we live shutters at the thought of “wrath”.  It’s an abrasive term that connotes pain and suffering.  It doesn’t mingle well with the concept of a socially accepting, tolerant, and “loving” God who allows people to wantonly live out their base desires.  Sadly, even churches, in hopes of being inclusive, have given into this way of thinking.  

We must hold fast to the truth.  It was God’s perfect holiness (1 Sam 2:2) and wrath (Rom 1:18), in harmony with His love (John 3:16) that deemed the incarnation of Christ necessary.  Christ came, that to the glory of God, He would be our substitute.  He and only He, could satisfy the wrath of a Holy God and impute to us His righteousness.  This Advent season, we should know that the Word became flesh for a reason…and it wasn’t for bellies full of ham and hanging mistletoe.  May we celebrate the birth of our Lord in the fullness of this rich understanding.

Posted by Shawn Thomas

You Don't Only Live Once, You Live Twice!

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Have you ever heard of the saying/acronym “YOLO’? Which stands for “You Only Live Once”, as to say  live your life on your own terms. How you want, when you want, being unapologetic and just going after  any and everything you want out of life.  

Well, it all “sounds good” but can be a quite dangerous way to live one’s life. Throwing caution to the  wind and not having any regard for the potential consequences of living one’s life this way is, careless to  say the least. This is the worldly way of living. Thinking and acting this way appeals to the flesh, which is  contrary to God’s Word. We see this in 1 John 2:16 “For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the  lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- comes not from the Father but from the world.” NIV 

As a believer, we seek guidance, direction, leading and teaching for our daily living from the scriptures in  the Holy Bible. Here’s another acronym you may or may not be familiar with “BIBLE”; which stands for  Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. All that we need is right there in the bible. God gave us the  standards and the guidelines of how we should be here on earth. For those who may still be a bit  confused as to what God’s will is for us, here’s one example in Rom 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern  of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and  approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will. NIV 

It is so easy for us to be distracted and pulled in to what this world has to “offer”. This world says you’re  not good enough, smart enough, tall enough, pretty/handsome enough, blah, blah, blah… All of these  things are lies from the enemy. Is it really offering us anything of true substance or is it all just  temporary and short lived satisfaction? The world has the glitz of glamour that appears to be able to fill  the void that we all have experienced one way or another. We all have insecurities that we try to hide,  avoid, deny overcompensate for. But, what most will find (if not all) is that no matter what one tries to  do to combat those lies fed to us by the enemy, we will still remain unfulfilled. The reason this is is  because the only one who can truly complete us and offer the love we all so desire is, Jesus Christ. 

I started this blog by saying we don’t only live once, but twice. The first life we live will be here on Earth.  But the second will be determined by what we do here and how we choose to live our lives. The life we  live here is finite. The one we will live after, is eternal. Our destination after we leave this life will either  be in eternity with God our Father, The One and ONLY God, and with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ or  to be absent from God and be in Hell for eternity. 

One of the most well-known verses in the bible whether you’re a believer or not is, John 3:16. “For God  so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but  have eternal life.” See, we all have the opportunity to live eternally with God. All we need to do is just  Believe in Jesus. We don’t have to work for it, we don’t have to earn it, we don’t have to be the most  perfect person in the world. We just need to believe in Jesus, who He is and what He came to do for us  all. Refer to Romans 10 9-10 “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your  hear that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with you heart that you believe and  are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” 

Our eternal salvation is a gift that all we need to do is accept it. My prayer for you is that you know that  you are loved. You were created in the very image of God. He knows you better than anyone else ever  will. He knew you before you were even in your mother’s womb. He has a great purpose and plan for your life. So don’t believe the lies and doubt that the enemy tries to plant in your mind. Remember to  whom you belong, an AMAZING God who loved you SO much that He sent His Only Son, Jesus Christ, to  die for your sins so that if you would only believe in His Son, Accept Him as your personal Lord and  Savior, that he rose again that when we leave this world, we will live again with in Him in eternity.



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