Happy New Year – a Devotional

A New Year dawns, and because of Christ in the manger and on the cross and in the grave … and risen on high and in our hearts, we can look forward with hope, knowing that He has a perfect plan for our lives and for the lives of those we love.

Nothing is too hard for God.

No prayer is too small.

And no person is too far gone.

Happy New Year. May we step forward with hope and faith, in the knowledge that Christ makes all things new!

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This reading is taken from Finding Christ in the Carols, inspired by lyrics from well-known Christmas Carols. Available for only $2.99 this month, this devotional will help you find refreshing moments of devotion and reflection during the busy holiday season.

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Joy in Creation – New Year Devotional

The first words God spoke into the darkness of pure void and nothingness was, “Let there be light.”

And there was light.

And He saw that it was good.

And so He continued to create. All things He made were good, and beautiful, and lovely.

The sum of His creation, set into the center of His world, was mankind, created in His image.

And as He joyed in creation and saw that it was good, so we over the millennia have found joy in creating. Of course, only God made something out of nothing. We have something to work with. Clay or marble if we are sculptors. Words and rhythm if we are writers or musicians. Movement and balance if we are dancers. All good things He gave us, and in His image, we seek to create to honor Him.

And if we do honor Him in our creativity, the things we create are, in their own way, light – reflections of He who is the Light of the world. And we seek to continue doing so, for it brings joy to us and hope to others.

The sun is setting on the old year, but it will rise on the new.

It is a good time to stop and think back on the year that has passed. Perhaps some of the creations we have made have not been what we had hoped to create. Perhaps, at the start of the year, we had one thing in mind, and the works of our hands have transformed into something we did not intend.

But the sun is setting on this old year, and it will rise on the new. “Let there be light,” God spoke, and there was light. There will be light again.

So tonight, as the sun sets on the old, it is a perfect opportunity to kneel before Creator of Heaven and Earth, and give the New Year to Him. To open your hands and commit to Him the works of your hands in the upcoming year. To tell Him that you seek to please Him with all that you create. To ask Him to guide your hands and your words and your movements, so that they may glorify Him with the rising of the sun on the New Year.

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This reading is taken from Finding Christ in the Carols, inspired by lyrics from well-known Christmas Carols. Available for only $2.99 this month, this devotional will help you find refreshing moments of devotion and reflection during the busy holiday season.

All Things New – A New Year’s Devotional

Another year is ending. So quickly. Like a small town beyond a highway. Blink and you miss it.

But unlike that town, you can’t make a U-turn. The year is gone forever.

The thought is bittersweet. Sweet, at the thought of ringing in the New Year, and considering all that it will bring. Making resolutions (and trying our best to keep them). Giving forgiveness, or asking for it. Turning over a new leaf. Seeing a year stretching before us, unsoiled and unwritten.

But also bitter, or poignant, at the things gone past that we can never experience again, at least not in the same way. The kids are a year older. That much more water has flowed under the bridge. Words have been spoken in anger that we cannot take back. We have made mistakes, experienced loss. Perhaps found a wrinkle or spotted a gray hair and know that more are to come.

Bittersweet, as “fast away the old year passes,” for time is always going forward and so much can never be experienced again … and yet …

“The memory of the just is blessed” (Proverbs 10:7). Even those memories that still bring pain, we can know that all things work together for good for us who love God and know that our life has a purpose in Him.

“Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is not something to be sorrowful about, but to be full of joy for. In Christ, we are new creations, not just once, but every day. The future is bright, because the promises of God are great.

Let us look forward with joy and anticipation. Christmas had made it possible for us to do so, because in Christ, all things are made new.

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This reading is taken from Finding Christ in the Carols, inspired by lyrics from well-known Christmas Carols. Available for only $2.99 this month, this devotional will help you find refreshing moments of devotion and reflection during the busy holiday season.

With Christmas Over

With Christmas over, and the long winter stretching ahead, it is easy to forget the song, to let the music fade. For there are more important things to think about. It is time to quit the carols and get back to the real world. Put away the decorations, and accept a dreary existence. After all, Christmas only comes once a year. Right?

Wrong.

“The child sleeping in the night … He will bring us goodness and light.”

Not only at Christmas, but in the midst of the deadlines and aching muscles, in spite of the conflict and tension, in the heart of the hours that are too long and the breaks that are too short.

Goodness and light. Hope. Himself. The child. The Son of God. With us always, even to the ends of the world.

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This reading is taken from Finding Christ in the Carols, inspired by lyrics from well-known Christmas Carols. Available for only $2.99 this month, this devotional will help you find refreshing moments of devotion and reflection during the busy holiday season.

God is Not Dead, Nor Does He Sleep

I was away at work one day, and when I came home, my three-year-old son had a new favorite song. Apparently,Finding Christ in the Carols my wife had shown the video to our son on YouTube and he was singing it nonstop, the parts he could understand as lustily as the parts he couldn’t.

“God’s Not Dead” is the name of the song, by contemporary Christian band The Newsboys. Not long afterward, a movie came out with the same title: “God’s Not Dead.” It portrays a young man, a college student, who was expected to sign his name to the statement “God is Dead” at the beginning of his class, or debate against the professor and try to prove that God is not dead.

The song is powerful. The movie too, because many people believe the opposite. If you studied philosophy, you’ve likely heard of Friedrich Nietzsche, who began quite a movement under the depressing premise that God is dead.

We all have our moments of doubts, or wondering if that in which we put our faith is really worthy of faith and trust and worship. The one who penned the words to “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” must have had such moments, for he wrote, “in despair I bowed my head … for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.”

He also wrote, “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep; God is not dead, nor does he sleep.”

We can’t always hear them. These days, especially. The bells are strangely silent. But somehow … deeper, louder, in a tone beyond hearing and a tune beyond fully comprehending … the bells ring out the message.

God’s not dead. It rings all around us and nature itself is the choir that refuses to accept the news that God has died.

It cannot be. It is not. “The wrong shall fail. The right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.”

Can you hear them?

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This reading is taken from Finding Christ in the Carols, a devotional inspired by lyrics from more than 30 well-known Christmas Carols. Available as an e-book on Amazon, Finding Christ in the Carols will help you find moments of personal devotion and reflection during the busy holiday season as you discover “Christ in the Carols”. Throughout the month of December, enjoy a fresh glimpse of tunes we hear every holiday season. Each daily devotional includes a prayer, as well as lyrics and a short history of the Christmas carol written about.

Who Has Been Forgiven Little?

Readers of the Gospels marvel at Jesus’ ability to move with ease among the sinners and outcasts. Having spent time around “sinners” and also around purported “saints,” I have a hunch why Jesus spent so much time with the former group: I think he preferred their company. Because the sinners were honest about themselves and had no pretense, Jesus could deal with them. In contrast, the saints put on airs, judged him, and sought to catch him in a moral trap. In the end it was the saints, not the sinners, who arrested Jesus.

Recall the story of Jesus’ dinner at the home of Simon the Pharisee, in which a woman … poured perfume on Jesus and provocatively wiped his feet with her hair. Simon was repulsed–such a woman did not even deserve to enter his house! Here is how Jesus responded in that tense atmosphere:

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for me feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

Why is it, I ask myself, that the church sometimes conveys the spirit of Simon the Pharisee rather than that of the forgiven woman? Why is it that I often do? – Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing about Grace?

Faith in the Character of God

“We must be concerned with the person and character of God, not the promises. Through promises we learn what God has willed to us, we learn what we may claim as our heritage, we learn how we should pray. But faith itself must rest on the character of God.

Is this difficult to see? Why are we not stressing this in our evangelical circles? Why are we afraid to declare that people in our churches must come to know God Himself? Why do we not tell them that they must get beyond the point of making God a lifeboat for their rescue or a ladder to get them out of a burning building? How can we help our people get over the idea that God exists just to help run their businesses or fly their airplanes?

God is not a railway porter who carries your suitcase and serve you. God is God. He made heaven and earth. He holds the world in His hand. He measures the dust of the earth in the balance. He spreads the sky out like a mantle. He is the great God Almighty. He is not your servant. He is your Father, and you are His child.” – A. W. Tozer