|The Author and Finisher of Our Faith|
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Acts 9: 4 -22
King James Version
New International Ver.
Lesson 18 - God is a God of New Beginnings...
This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lam. 3:21-23
I ask now, in the Name of Jesus, for the Lord, our God, our Father, to help us to see that we are clothed in His Righteousness and we do not deserve Salvation; it is His Free Gift to us, for those who believe. AMEN
I am determined to begin again this year! I had planned to do so much for the Lord last year and yet did so little in my estimation. We're all familiar with New Year's Resolutions, recommitment, turning over a new leaf, etc. I plan to start eating better, taking better care of myself, praying more, studying the Word more. You know the story. And certainly there's nothing wrong with all that I've mentioned. But if I only strive to DO things for sake of the DOING, it will turn out just like last year and I'll be frustrated at the beginning of 2006 (if the Lord hasn't come by then) and plagued by feelings of failure, disappointment with myself, and guilt! I have decided to see this New Year of 2005 become the year that more light is shed upon my soul - the Light of the Truth of the Gospel and God's wonderful GRACE!
When I first thought about new beginnings, I thought about all the things I need to do, should do, want to do, and surely the Lord must expect me to do this year to make up for some of the things I neglected to do last year. All of these 'to do' things! Not that there's anything wrong with the doing. But I had to stop and get a breather, to tell myself that my works are not what is most pleasing to God, but it is my faith and my love for Him. He must surely want me to know, understand, and embrace His mercies, His lovingkindness, His patience, His commitment to me, His covenant, His plan for my life, His GRACE!
I've been considering our Biblical heroes. The ones most of us know by name and deeds.
First, I thought of Abraham. He had a calling personally from Yahweh himself, choosing him from a heathen society that knew nothing of God. He started out fine, obeying as he went, yet he kept messing up along the way. But the Lord made a covenant with Abraham because God had a plan and Abraham was part of that plan. It was God, Himself who instigated the covenant. The Lord tested him severely once, yes, with the command to sacrifice his son, and the Lord saw his heart then. But there were many other times when Abraham gave up on the Lord's way and tired of waiting for the promises of God. He took matters into his own hands and went his own way. But God's plan was not thwarted at all. And His mercies remained intact. The promises came to pass. And Abraham was loved and blessed by God, and all of his seed.
Abraham's life story makes me realize that God has a plan - and we are all a part of that plan. Billy Graham once said in a sermon that Jesus taught his disciples .. the Spirit of God rides on the winds around the earth and touches whom He may. That makes me remember that even the very faith I do have in the Lord came from Him. ... For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Eph 2:8
My place and standing with the Lord did not begin with my good works and it cannot continue with my good works. It is by His Grace.
First of all then, I must imprint upon my heart the Words of Life, Eternal Life, and that Life is of the Son, Jesus Christ, Messiah, my Lord and Savior. I must know that God is FOR me. He desires for me to succeed and accomplish that which He has ordained for me. I'm part of His Plan. If I can put aside all the 'things' that I plan to do, and seek His purpose for me this coming year, and commune with Him so He can lead me in the direction He's called me to, I will succeed and be able to rest in Him, knowing I've done or at least tried to do His will for me. That means that I may have to give up some of the things I've been doing, even good things that look like they must surely be good Christian works. I must learn what He has for me to do and stay with His program. (as the youngsters say today)
King David did some things that were very unlike a godly king's actions. But God saw his heart. David loved God and recognized when he'd sinned. Sometimes David refused to consult with the prophet who could tell him what works to do and not do. There were consequences, as there are for us as well, but there was also forgiveness and a new beginning for David. Just like there is a new beginning for us this year. Isn't it wonderful that our Father's mercies are even new every morning!
Our revered apostle, Peter, denied our Lord three times during His trial. But there was grace and forgiveness for Peter. After the resurrection Jesus called to Peter and cooked his breakfast! What a warm welcome with open arms of forgiveness. Then Jesus had a heart to heart talk with Peter, giving him instruction, encouragement and great responsibility. A new beginning!
Paul, another great apostle, persecuted Jesus by persecuting believers with zeal! Imprisoning them. ... As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Acts 8:3 ... He even stood by while Steven was stoned. But on the road to Emmaus, Paul's encounter with the risen Jesus, changed his life forever more. A new beginning!
There are so many other examples of men of old who failed over and over. Yet, the Lord forgave, strengthened them and led them on according to His plan.
If I get so busy this year going about all the ministry things I have to do, taking care of my website, replying to e-mails, working on my recordings, etc. BEFORE I've been with the Lord to Praise Him, Love Him, have Communion with Him, Seek His will, Ask Him to supply all my needs and the needs of others, then I'll be 'dancing in the dark' as my dear Grandma used to say. I must confess that I did that a lot last year. I guess when you 'dance in the dark' you could STUMBLE on things that are in your way. You could stub your toe or worse. You could fall down! Remember the lesson about the devil being as the roaring lion; he can get you when you're DOWN and weak. Maybe my Grandma understood more about 'dancing in the dark' than I realized. Grandma's have a way of depositing wisdom in the strangest ways, don't they?
I got so busy last year. I was almost overwhelmed with work. There is much WORK in a ministry! I told myself that because I'd been ill and had to have another surgery during 2004 that I was so far behind I didn't have as much time to spend with the Lord - my quiet time. I had been starting my day with the Lord at the start of the year. Why did I not remember when I became slack that those precious hours I spent with Him revived me in spirit, body and mind? I believe in looking back, I was able to accomplish more. He led me to the things which really mattered to be done that I may not have thought of myself. AND ... my time was spent more efficiently because I probably omitted some of the things that were just not mine to do! A sweet sister in the Lord sent me a mini sermon last year about that. If the house is not being built by the Lord then it will fall. I need to build my own house!
The main thing I'm going to try to remember for my new beginning is this: even though I may have stumbled while dancing in the dark, my Father in Heaven is there to pick me up, heal the spiritual bruises, forgive me for not running to Him for ALL things at ALL times, and say, "Dear Child, Take My Hand and Begin Again!"
I pray that this has helped someone. I pray that we'll all stop 'dancing in the dark' and get on with the business of beginning again so we can leave what's behind .. truly behind! I pray we can all pull up our spiritual 'bootstraps' and feel His nudging and tender love to start over and draw close to Him in these coming days. He's not there to punish .. discipline yes, and that's because He loves us. But His discipline is also guidance; to walk the right path. To stay on the road so we can accomplish our part in His great plan. His forgiveness and mercy is without comprehension! He is our Father! When our little babies fell while learning to walk, we felt compassion for their little hearts. We picked them up and helped them to take those learning steps again. Our Heavenly Father is so much more a loving parent! He desires for us a new beginning!
Welcome to 2005 all you believers! My precious brothers and sisters in the Lord! This could be the year! The year we're all waiting for! Let's not let guilt or failure of any kind, nor disappointment or discouragement stop us from going on. As Paul said .. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:14.
I hope to stay in tune with my Lord and close to Him so I can hear what He has for me to share in the Bible Study Lessons. Please pray for me. We'll pray for you. I've learned the importance of prayer for each other. Since I've become part of the prayer group, 'Evergreen' I've seen how the caring and sincere prayers offered up to God on the behalf of those suffering and in need really make a difference!
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Love In Christ,