2019 is upon us. Throughout the course of next year, as in all years, we will experience highs and lows. We will shed some tears, tears of joy, tears of sorrow. Some will get married; some will pass away, graduations, the car breaking down. Some will gain weight; some will lose a few pounds. People will be ill, from cancer to a head cold and everything in between. People will lose their jobs; others will change positions or gain promotion. If we do not experience these things ourselves, we will know people who will.
As one year rolls into another, people will often be reflective, thinking of things they would like to accomplish in the next 365 days and improvements they need to add for the betterment of their lives.
As a Pastor, there are several questions I would like every Christian to consider as they move into the new year.
Will you grow in Christ?
If you have ever told a child, or if you were ever told as a child, “You are too young for this” you can relate to the church at Cornith. Paul tells them they are spiritual babes and are not ready for some things (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).
Sadly, churches are full of people who have been Christians for years, even decades, and they are still feeding on spiritual milk. Bible study consists of reading one verse and a page from a daily devotional. When feelings are the motivation behind life-changing and everyday decisions instead of meditation and prayer, a Christian is a babe acting on emotion instead of God’s will.
Will you tell others the gospel of Jesus Christ?
In Matthew 28:16-20, Jesus starts this passage by telling us He has all the power. He ends this passage by reminding us that He will never leave us or forsake us. Packed in between being informed about His power and His constant presence is the command to spread the gospel throughout the entire world.
I had a professor in college that had all of us secretly write on a sheet of paper the main reason why we did not witness to others. Forty-eight of 55 students wrote “fear” as the reason. Look at what Jesus told us in this passage; He has all the power, He will always be by our side, therefore, preach the gospel. How can we be afraid if the Power never leaves us?
This promise does not mean we will always receive the desired results. Christ Himself was rejected by His own (John 1:11). In an Old Testament parable (Exekiel 33:1-7) God informs us He only holds the watchman with the responsibility of telling people of their impending doom. He does not hold the watchman responsible for what those warned do with the information. The command is to deliver the message and leave the results to God.
Will you build up the church?
Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Many professing Christians have not been in church in, well, who knows when. With some, church attendance is not a priority; other things are more vital in their lives. Others have their reasons for staying away. The reasons vary, but some of the more popular ones are – hypocrites flourish through the church – they have been offended in some way – they feel the minister is always asking for money – and on, and on, and on. The passage in Hebrews is clear, one main reason for going to church is to exhort, or build up one another. When everyone sits in a pew, looks around, and asks God, “How can I serve you here? How can you use me to help fellow believers here?” The church will glorify God to the maximum. When people sit in the pew thinking, “What can this church do for me?” Few are encouraged, and the quenching of the Holy Spirit takes place.
One last question – will you be watching for Christ? I will not comment on this question; the words of Jesus will be enough. Mark 13:33-37, “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”