Friday, 3 January 2014

The Year In Review

Proverbs 15:30 The light of the eyes rejoices the heart: and a good report makes the bones fat.

           It is always a pitiful scene when the news cameras are focused on family members picking through the destruction of their homes after a tornado has devastated a town or community. These victims wander around with the odd item of personal value clutched to their sides with looks of bewilderment. Inevitably, the news reporters with a limited vocabulary asks one of these traumatised people, "How do you feel?" 
      I think this to be a dumb question, but the answer is almost always, "Well, everyone in the family is alive and that's what's important. All this, (as they point to the destruction), is just stuff that can be replaced." Then, the other question the news reporter learned in reporter-school asks, "What are you going to do now?" With a brave face, the answer is often, "We're going to rebuild."  
      Like most of you, I often ask, why rebuild in a place called Tornado Alley? Are they not setting themselves up for this to happen all over again? Some of these people admit to the fact that this devastation has happened to them before. Oh well, we do not know the hearts and reasons these hearty people choose to rebuild and start over, but that is their free choice. Eccl. 5:19 Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God 
      As we muse and walk through the events of our last year, it is my hope that we are not wandering in bewildered at the destruction or loss of our spiritual effect on our family, friends, and workmates. Hopefully, we have good reports and testimonies of how God is faithful toward us all year long. I hope we have garnered a heart of gratitude toward those who love us and toward God who has saved us. Eph. 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
      If we have experienced spiritual loss through repeated sin because we rebuilt in the same place as in our personal, Tornado Alley, then it might be time to move. If some of us are finding it difficult to overcome tempting fruit that causes us to fall repeatedly, then it might be time to get out of that orchard and focus on redemption rather than self-righteousness, rebuilding on the same spot called mayhem. Job 11:14 If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles. 
      What have we discovered about ourselves throughout this last year? Were we kind, generous, and patient with one another? Did we go out of our way to bless those who bother us? Did we overcome in times of temptation? What progress in Christ have we made this past year that brings out a heartfelt assurance that we are walking the Lord's path of righteousness?  
      Minister Phil Drysdale says, "Spiritual maturity is not a process of you working on your sin - it’s a process of you discovering your righteousness!" 2 Cor. 5:21 For he hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Christ, our Lord, has already paid for our sin, now let us grow in His grace-filled righteousness. Let us, through His grace and faith in His righteousness, appropriate the ability given to us to overcome sin. Keep our eyes on the cure for our lives and not the sickness that drags us down. 
     I can look back this year and see events that blessed me. For example, my sons and best friends came home to celebrate my birthday. My sons both landed wonderful jobs with very good companies. My darling wife of thirty-two years still loves me and encourages me. I could go on and record so many great events that took place in my life this year, but did I grow in the righteousness of the Lord and His finished work of the cross? Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  
      I can say there are areas I did grow in this year and there are areas I still need great leaps and strides of maturity in order to walk in the peace of righteousness that has been given to me through Christ. Rom. 5:17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
     What a year of contrasts it has been for a lot of us who love the Lord and long for His coming. We have all had some great victories and some hurtful falls. What then shall we do? Shout, praise the Lord for all our victories, and dust ourselves off from the falls with a prayer on our lips and faith in our hearts that we shall have a great new year. Phil. 3:13   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, 14  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. A blessed new year to us all.

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