Grateful to God
Let there be no mistake that 2017 will bear the fruit of that which we sow. First, we make willful decisions to leave behind 2016. History cannot be changed but we can learn from it. While we carry memories, nothing else from 2016 can go with us into 2017.
Years ago Laila made a decision that we would not have in our home any items, furniture or photos that remind us of bad things or bad people. She sold, gave away - discarded - what to the eye might have been beautiful and valuable. But when we looked at them they took us back to places and times that were painful. Nothing is truly beautiful and valued if we must look at it and think about or feel tainted or discouraged.
With the same willpower, we must review 2016. We apply ourselves to discern those things precious in 2016 that are worth carrying as treasures into 2017.
Let us consider true treasures:
Our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord of our life. Our family... personal and church. Our possessions... temporary treasures for our enjoyment and investments in Kingdom work.
During our travels, I was determined to purchase a newer car... not new, but newer - I have never owned a new car and have no desire to own a new car. I looked and searched Craigslist. I visited a few car lots. But while driving across 130 boring miles of Alligator Alley in Florida the Holy Spirit spoke quietly "Be patient. Not now." I did not see an alligator, but I know when the Holy Spirit speaks to me. I am glad I know His voice.
Not long after we were married I worked in a mental hospital. A woman was admitted as a patient. Her two sons had been sent to war in Vietnam. She started crying and could not stop. Because she was poor she was put in a state mental hospital. During intake, the psychiatrist asked if she heard voices.
The patient nodded "Yes." The psychiatrist asked if she talked to God. The patient answered "Yes".
The psychiatrist prescribed a mind-altering drug, remitted her to a ward and scheduled a two-week evaluation.
Later in the day, I went to the psychiatrist's office. She was Japanese by ethnicity and Buddhist by religion. For whatever reason she liked me. I was a social worker. I asked the psychiatrist if we could talk about the lady patient who could not stop crying. Venturing carefully I laid out my thoughts about a mother sending her only two sons to war. Gradually I brought up about the woman "talking to and listening to God".
"What if I were to share with you," I said to the psychiatrist, "that I have the same religious beliefs of the woman? What if I were to share that I too listen to God and talk to God?"
The good news is that the woman, who was a fine Pentecostal Christian lady, was released to go home to her husband.
I am glad that God hears our prayers. I am glad that the Holy Spirit speaks to us.
Join with me that [in 2017] we, as a congregation, may purpose to read and study the Bible more, pray for divine direction for our individual lives and the corporate body of Covenant, and purpose that our hands and feet will be dedicated to serving Christ and His Church. Pray with me that we may do that which pleases God and carry forward many eternal treasures.
Laila and I have spent time in reviewing our home, our finances, our hearts and our commitment to Christ and to Covenant. Our prayer is that 2017 will be a Holy Spirit-driven year.
Whatever your dreams are, make sure Christ is at the center. Have new dreams that begin and end with Jesus at the center. Purpose that you will not carry baggage from the past or present that will hinder your joy.
Run. Run well. Plan, if Jesus tarries, to finish 2017 able to celebrate great victories... standing in the congregation of God's people and saying "We rose up and built" to the glory of God.
One more thing. Choose an area of ministry. Join a team. Make a difference in winning people to Jesus and making disciples.
If a bird can fly 100 miles by itself, flying in a cover the whole group can fly 170 miles. We can fly further TOGETHER as a TEAM!
Much Love, Pastor Bare Nehemiah 2:18 And the people said: Let us rise up and build.