REMINDER! Zoom ONLY church today at 10!
Good Morning New Creations! When we come to Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are made new and the door of His possibilities opens up for us as our true identity and created purposes become available. At conversion, we receive the Holy Spirit who seals us in Christ, becomes our counselor and wisdom of Christ in us and brings gifts to enable us to grow into our fuller created potential and to grow His church. PTL! We are made new and continue to be made new as we journey towards becoming more like Jesus. What a blessing! What potential!
Like with the ending of this year and the dawning of the new, we continue to shed the old and put on more fully our new nature in Christ. We celebrate what has gone but don't dwell there because we focus ahead on the new things God has for us in the new year and beyond. (The PA Dutch eat pork and sauerkraut because a pig roots forward as we should move forward in Christ. And if your gastronomical system survives the kraut, you are cleansed and healthy to begin the new journey. Ponder that when you feast tomorrow.) Yes the old has gone and the new has come! PTL! Where's God leading you in your journey towards Christlikeness in the year ahead? What may need some shedding, pruning, refining? Talk to God about that and commit to allowing Him to have His way with you and lead you to His greater purposes. Pray that over all the expressions of St. Matts as well.
Some churches and people begin the new year with a fast; emptying themselves and seeking to be filled more fully with God; shedding the old and putting on the new; releasing their will and ways and crying out for God to bring His alive. Fasting is a great spiritual practice that allows us to come to know God more fully, receive His correcting help and receive His directions for what lies ahead as we pray, release, receive and commit to follow more fully. Maybe you want to consider a day, week, month of fasting? Talk to God about that as you die to self, take up cross and follow Jesus into 2024 and His will and plans. More of Him and less of you. It will be a great start to the Become More in '24 Challenge!
I'm going to end here and allow you space to engage with our devotionals for the day below. They really do thread together and speak into this. Check them out prayerfully as you prepare your heart to gather and worship on Zoom today at 10 and to follow God to His best into the new year. The year ahead is full of promise! We know God will always be at work bringing His new things and Kingdom plans to life. We know that even if we have to endure some hardships, that God promises to be working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. That's you!
Worship and celebrate all the good things that have happened in 2023. Allow the hard things to be used by God to grow and direct you. Prepare your heart to surrender and follow well in 2024. God has some greater things awaiting as we seek to Become More in '24! Rejoice! Prepare your hearts and pray with anticipation, expectation and much thanksgiving for all God has planned for you and us! Yes rejoice! Be still and know that He is God. And offer a sacrifice of praise! Release in prayer and follow His provisions and shalom and you will be blessed, a blessing to God and others and growing into your fuller potential and God's greater things! AMEN! God really loves you! So do I and I'm honored to call you friends and co-laborers! I'm praying for a fantastic year ahead for you and us! Yes, rejoice with much thanksgiving and anticipation!
Charles Stanley: God has been speaking this to me and pronouncing this over us all year. What's He saying to you and what will you do about it?
Our Daily Bread: Think about how God may want to impart and/or incarnate the importance of growing fruit to the next generations. As we mature, things of God become more clear and more of a priority. Who needs to understand that? Pray for open hearts to receive and wisdom and opportunities to share and impart.
On New Year’s Eve 2000, officials in Detroit carefully opened a hundred-year-old time capsule. Nestled inside the copper box were hopeful predictions from some city leaders who expressed visions of prosperity. The mayor’s message, however, offered a different approach. He wrote, “May we be permitted to express one hope superior to all others . . . [that] you may realize as a nation, people, and city, you have grown in righteousness, for it is this that exalts a nation.”
More than success, happiness, or peace, the mayor wished that future citizens would grow in what it means to be truly just and upright. Perhaps he took his cue from Jesus, who blessed those who long for His righteousness (Matthew 5:6). But it’s easy to get discouraged when we consider God’s perfect standard.
Praise God that we don’t have to rely on our own effort to grow. The author of Hebrews said it this way: “May the God of peace . . . equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:20–21). We who are in Christ are made holy by His blood the moment we believe in Him (v. 12), but He actively grows the fruit of righteousness in our hearts throughout a lifetime. We’ll often stumble on the journey, yet still we look forward to “the city that is to come” where God’s righteousness will reign (v. 14).
By Karen Pimpo
For what Christlike attributes would you like to be known? How can you encourage others to seek God’s righteousness?
Dear God, please work in me what’s pleasing to You.
The anonymous author of the book of Hebrews wrote to Jewish believers in Jesus who were suffering because of persecution, encouraging them to persevere in their faith and to endure suffering for the sake of Christ—to “[bear] the disgrace he bore” (Hebrews 13:13). Believers in Jesus can persevere because, as the author reminds us, “This world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come” (v. 14 nlt). The author cites examples of believers who in faith (ch. 11) chose to suffer for Christ because they were looking for an eternal home in heaven. Abraham looked “forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (v. 10). Moses “regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. . . . He persevered because he saw him who is invisible” (vv. 26-27).
K. T. Sim
The Upper Room: "Old News". What are the big dreams and visions God is bringing to you? Commit to following God to His unexpected future as we learn to expect the unexpected and follow God into them. Think About Ecclesiastes teaching: Love God and follow His ways as you enjoy life in Christ! Don't worry! be happy!
The Word for You Today:
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? - Luke 12:25 (NIV)
“Cindy, can you look through your college and work boxes and decide which items you want to keep and which you want to recycle?” Mum asked. My parents were downsizing and sorting through the accumulated clutter from living in the same house and caring for three children for many years.
Sifting through my belongings, I found essays and assignments I had completed for my teaching degree. Glancing at the grades and scribbled comments, I recalled the stress of looming deadlines and my constant fear of failure. I was transported back to a time when feelings of urgency and worries about the future dominated. What was all that worry and panic for? Worrying did not achieve anything except for stress churning inside of me. What had felt so urgent and important at the time has passed.
Constant worrying really is a waste of time because one day, like the assignments I shredded, it will be old news. We weren’t meant to stay stuck in the past but to allow ourselves to be constantly renewed. Although it was hard shredding the essays and the hours of work they represented, it was the right thing to do because they represented the past. Now I can more strongly embrace the hope of new adventures and beginnings with God. I have learned that whatever happens, God will lead us to the place we need to be, even if it is unexpected.
Loving God, teach us how to unclutter our lives and minds. Help us to continually trust in you to renew us each day. Amen.
Know Christ more and make Him more known! Become More in '24! A dynamic movement of God called St. Matts.
Pray Starter Book for Today:
Harvest Prayer Blog:
December 31 - The Ultimate Will of God
There are three possible answers to any prayer we pray. God can say:
1) “Wait. There are things that you cannot know. Be still and trust Me.”
2) “Of course. I have heard your prayer and the answer is already on the way.” Or
3) “No. My purposes are larger than what you are currently seeing.”
To pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is to accept all three possible answers in our lives of faith.
There is a word of relationship that comes through this account. Jesus knew the will. He asked for another way. When we know the will, it is not wrong to ask for a different path or outcome. History is filled with examples of the people of God crying out for hope in the midst of judgment. Jeremiah was told to proclaim a word of repentance in the hope that his people would hear God’s voice so that the Lord would not be forced to destroy them (Jeremiah 18:5-12). Hezekiah was told he would die, and he cried out to God to spare him and he was granted fifteen more years of life (Isaiah 38:1-6). There is a provisional will and there is an ultimate will. The provisional will can be altered and the means is prayer. The ultimate will can never be changed, regardless of all the prayer in creation. God would have us commit to the ultimate will and to pray through the provisional will.
Trustworthy God, how awed I am at the love You have for me. You give me hope in the midst of dark trials, forgiveness when I have grieved You, joy in the midst of pain and peace through suffering. There is nothing too great or too small for my heart to cry out to Yours. Thank You for being willing to hear and answer me in the middle of my ordinary every day life. Please give me greater understanding of Your ultimate will as I seek to walk hand in hand with You each day.
--Adapted from Power Praying (Hearing Jesus’ Spirit by Praying Jesus’ Prayer) by David Chotka.