“For this reason, we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as It is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. For you, brethren became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13-14a, NKJV)
There’s just something refreshing, even stimulating, about the first days of a New Year, isn’t there? Celebrations and family times are settling back down … for some the College Bowl games, NFL playoffs begin in earnest … and we try to collectively catch our breath … and then try to get organized.
New Year … New Slate … right? Not so fast! The clean slate of the New Year is actually not so clean! There are still the broken promises, the unfulfilled resolutions, and the heartaches and disappointments that refuse to leave.
As long as there is life, there is hope and our loving Heavenly Father has blessed each of us with yet another day to live and bring honor and glory to His name! You see, this is to always be the supreme purpose in our hearts and then reflected in our daily lives.
And at the beginning of every New Year we look in the mirror … we reflect over past events … and in many cases, there has been little if any change … and it is almost as if we are still the same except in some cases heavier, grayer, balder!
We scratch our heads … we give ourselves a good talking to … and just can’t seem to get our hands around the absence of improvement! Can you relate? Of course, you can!
So … what seems to be the problem? Could it be that we’re focusing on the wrong things or in focusing on the right things … we are not actually making the needed changes?
The young congregation of the Lord’s people to whom the Books of 1 & 2 Thessalonians were addressed were a group of people who when they “heard” the “word of God” preached … they “welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God.”
Their success didn’t stop with simply hearing and discerning the words as “the word of God” … but rather they put it into practice. The Apostle Paul says by inspiration, “… which also effectively works in you who believe.”
Were these brethren who made up the church in Thessalonica perfect? Hardly! Did they need to grow, improve, develop, and mature? Absolutely! Living and walking by faith is not about perfection … it is about direction! It is about “… being conformed to the image of His Son …” (Romans 8:29) It is about being a work in progress!
These brethren not only appreciated what they were hearing, but they also heard with their ears and they listened with their hearts! You see … everything has to start with the heart! And if we want to become better people … better spouses … better children … better parents … better brothers and sisters in Christ … we simply must take God’s Word at face value and allow it to become “a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.” (Psalm 119:1-5)
The reality to all of this is actually very simple yet profound: If you want to see change for good in your life, you’ve got to make some changes for good!
So, my friend, how do you propose to start out this New Year, and what changes do you need to make as the Lord gives you time and days to live? May we suggest that if you really want to live a wonderfully refreshing New Year that can deal with all of the unexpected things of life … and still enjoy joy and peace … then:
- Ask the Lord to help you become a better student of His Book!
- Ask the Lord to help you be brave enough to put into practice what you read in His Book!
- Ask the Lord to help you share the message of the Gospel with others … then look around for others to share it with!
- Ask the Lord to be with the church everywhere … and pray that the “body of Christ” will not forget they are “the body of Christ.”
- Ask the Lord to bless our country … that our leaders will have the heart to know His will and obey it!
- Ask the Lord to help you become a better you … the kind of you God wants you to be … the one who lives “conformed to the image of His Son.”
Nothing changes if nothing changes!
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” (Psalm 51:10-12, NKJV)
Bill Fairchild, Jr.