Midweek Message 12/29/2021

MIDWEEK MESSAGE #89

 

Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #89. I know…I know…you thought I would have come up with a better opening line by now. To be honest, I haven’t really given it much thought.  Some of the shows I watch all say, “Hello and welcome to (___________).”  Or just “Welcome to the (___________). No, not jungle.  J I’m just glad you take the time to read the message.

I hope you had a good ending to a sometimes not-so-good year. I, for one, look at 2021 as being in my rearview mirror. No one got anywhere by constantly looking backwards.  Whenever I was younger I would try to set resolutions that I found out I quickly broke. So I stopped. I started asking myself “What do I need to do to make this coming year “successful?” My first thought about that success was not work, school, or those things which are normally scrutinized as being talking points. I was more concerned with my spiritual walk.

I don’t suspect I am alone, even as I ask myself that same question today. I firmly believe that if my walk with God is in the right place, where it belongs, then the rest of my world will come together.  Several years ago I clipped a page from something I was reading and filed it away. As I was cleaning out some files the other day I found it. As I read it I thought it would be something good to pass on to you as you look ahead to 2022.  The main thoughts are from the article. Any commentary is mine.  So…here we go:

 

  1. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus Christ. I will be the first to admit the struggle with this one. Life hits and sometimes hits with a slam dunk. Have you ever seen that game where they have children, and sometimes adults, put their head on top of a baseball bat and then go in circles? When time is up then release them to walk away. Only they can’t. Their equilibrium is so messed up they simply stumble and sometimes fall. Life comes and it is like we are running in circles.  There comes a point in time when we need to stop and recalibrate. A lot of people like to do that at the beginning of a new year.  Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Let’s stop expecting the government or the school or the workout or the church to set us straight. Let’s look to Jesus.
  2. Look to God in the Scriptures. We live in a confused world. There are those who deny the existence of God (as there have always been). There are those who tell us to find God in nature. Nature can reveal God’s creativity but God is not a tree or nature.  There are always whackos trying to get us to find God in drugs or some weird teaching. The Bible is where we find God for who He is. Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your Law.” To save space I’m going to ask you to turn to and read Psalm 19: 7-11. Those are some powerful verses to focus on for this coming year.
  3. Remember all God has done for you. How easy it is to forget!  We see what we are going through now; we dream up what is ahead, and we find ourselves overwhelmed…and forgetful. Try to remember the same God today is the same God back then and will be same in the future.  Here is a great verse to remember! “Only be careful for yourself and watch over your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and grandsons.” 4:9
  4. Remain in Christian community. We haven’t talked much about this lately. With the onset of the live stream it is much easier to stay home and watch in the comfort of your recliner. I get that. But one thing live stream can’t do is offer community. It offers isolation. Unless you are involved in a small group which meets on a regular basis, it is so easy to feel like you are alone in the battle. {Note: we are going to make a more concentrated effort to have small groups in 2022}. We have got to have each other’s backs.  I’m glad live stream is available and some people are using it to feel connected. But I’m being honest when I say I miss you when you aren’t here. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day approaching.”  Just food for thought.
  5. Pray continually. I don’t know how to emphasize this anymore than those two words.  Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing” in I Thess.5:17.  Jesus told Peter to “Keep watching and praying so that you do not come (fall) into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” in Mt.26:41.  Make time this year for what I call my “Encounter Time.” Make a concentrated effort to read the Bible and pray. I also do a daily devotional blog called Living in the Shadow that might help your efforts.  (You can find that on the church’s website).

 

This got longer than I originally intended, but I guess you know me by now. J  But I do hope it helps you as you look ahead to 2022…hopefully not with fear and trepidation but with courage and hope.

The new theme for 2022 is “For Such a Time…”  This Sunday’s sermon is from the passage where that statement is found: Esther 4. Please read ahead and you will have a picture of what the message will be about.  As Christ-followers we are here “for such a time as this…”

Have a great rest of the week. Look with hope to the future.  Let’s make 2022 the best year in OVCF’s history. I love you all.

Pastor Bill

All Scripture is from the NASB2020.

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