Summary: If we want next year to be the year that we have a closer relationship with Jesus then we need to create some positive power in our hearts.
SWEPT CLEAN AND GARNISHED
By Pastor Jim May
For most of us this will be the last time we will come together in the House of God to worship and hear His Word before the New Year begins. I thought that this might just be the best time to stop and reflect upon the past year to examine where we are in our relationship with the Lord.
Of course there are some obvious questions to ask of your self. Is your relationship with Jesus Christ stronger today than it was at this time last year? If it is, then think of what God has done to bring you to a “higher” place in Him. If your relationship with Jesus is not as strong as it was last year at this time, then I must say that it is imperative that you stop right now to think and determine the reasons that your relationship with God has suffered and what it must take for you to take back that which the devil has stolen from you.
Satan often works in some very subtle ways to cause us to slip a little. In these last days, the slopes that lead away from the throne of God seem very slippery indeed. It only takes a moment of time to slip into apathy, to slip into frustration, to slip into a comfort zone where we can’t grow, or to slip into a form of godliness, going through the motions of serving God, but it’s only a surface relationship and the power of God that once lived within us is now gone.
The process of living for the Lord and then slipping away reminds me of the old story that asks, “How do you boil a live frog?”
Of course the answer is that you put the frog in the water while the water is cold and slowly heat it. The frog will stay in the water while it heats up slowly, never realizing that if he stays just a little too long, it will mean his demise. Soon he’s boiling in the pot. He could have hopped out at anytime but the effect was so slow that he just didn’t notice what was happening.
How many Christians do I know who have lost their relationship with Jesus and they still haven’t noticed? Satan gets us caught up in activity, in business, in day-to-day living, until one day we are caught in the trap of sin and there’s no way out. Thank God for His mercy and grace. If it were not for God’s mercy none of us would be here. If it were not for his grace, we would all be boiling in the pits of sin. It’s by his Spirit and through His Word that God shakes us and awakens us to the reality of our heart’s condition before Him.
The fact is though, that we all have ups and downs in our walk with the Lord. Most, if not all of us, have failed God in many ways during the past year. If we dwell on those times, it will definitely drag us into the pits of despair. So let’s not dwell there.
Paul understood what it was like to fail God. How many times he had failed God since his conversion on the road to Damascus we do not know, but since Paul was just a man with the call of God upon his life, I’m certain that he failed God just as we do today. But listen to what he had to say about his failures.
Philippians 3:13-14, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
There’s the key to having a better relationship with the Lord in the coming New Year. 2006 has not been touched by human hands. The things that happened last year are forever gone now. Nothing we can do will change the fact that they were done; all we can do is to change the results of what was done.
One statement that I’ve often heard is; “All is well that ends well!” How true that is. But in order for all things to end well, we have to make the choice to change the course of our lives and obey the Word of the Lord. Nothing that is contrary to the Word of God can possibly end well, no matter how it may appear so at first. The end of rebellion and disobedience is sin, and the wages; payback for sin, is always death. How can that be well?
If we dwell on what is past, how can we change the future? Think about the past, learn from the past, and then go and change the future. That’s what it’s all about.