What if the second day of each new year were a second Christmas Day … ? Celebration and gifts given all over again.
In some ways today seemed like that, with God (as usual) the gift-giver. Here are three good gifts I received from Him today :
the sight of not one, not two, but three bald eagles flying over our yard and neighborhood this cold, sunny, snowy morning ;
a good time of lunch, visiting, dreaming, and planning with Pastor Jeff this noon ;
an actual gift – wrapped and everything — given to my family by someone we hardly know but having been praying and hoping to get to know !
Doesn’t God act in unusual ways ? Why today, January 2 ?
Maybe He actually gives these kinds of gifts every day. Why was I more alert to it today ?
To be a disciple (follower, learner) of Jesus is to watch for Him, listen for Him, and move with Him moment by moment. It really does require (for it to happen as God intended) a readiness to abandon all (plans, possessions, time) in order to go to the place, or to do the thing, He is doing.
It requires :
Romans 4:20,21 – “… with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, … being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.”
Someone in the church emailed me today rejoicing that she had finished her year-long reading of the Bible … and couldn’t wait to get started on it again for 2014 ! Do you remember how we started 2013 with a challenge to read through the Bible in a year ? I’m sure a lot of you made it across the finish line ! Congratulations if you did ! Don’t be discouraged if you didn’t. Just turn it into a 2-year goal … and keep up the good habit of a disciple !
Note in the Gospels – and in the New Testament letters – that followers of Jesus moved together, and served together, in groups, not as soloists. How important it is that we develop accountability, partnering, and mentoring relationships with other disciples, either in a one-on-one context or in a small group. I hope that’s a goal of yours for this year. Those kinds of relationships can be found in a good local church such as God has given us. What another wonderful gift from Him ! You and I are blessed to have each other in our lives at this point in time. Let’s take advantage of this situation to have a great year of being – and making – disciples !
Two great adult classes beginning Sunday
We have two great classes for adults beginning this Sunday :
Discovering Christ and the Church 101 which is our beginning class for everyone at Emmanuel, even if you’ve been a member here for many years.
A Study of the Gospel of John which is being offered this month particularly for those who have already completed the 101 course.
It’s really simple to join either class :
From the front door of the church, take a right turn at the main hallway and head north.
The Gospel of John class will be in the first door on your right (Conference Room).
Discovering Christ and the Church 101 will be on the fourth door on your right (Dining Room).
See you there at 9:00 ! Kids are welcome to sit in on the class or hang out quietly with other kids who are at church early on Sundays.
What if the Kansas City Chiefs never huddled up during a football game ? What if the President never met with his advisors ?
One of the most important huddle times we have at Emmanuel is our quarterly Ministry Team Leader Meeting (aka “Staff Meeting.”) If you are a ministry team leader at Emmanuel, we need you in the huddle on Sunday, January 12, immediately following worship. Our goal will be to put together a calendar of ministry for January thru June 2014. In doing this all together, we hope to learn better how to do ministry in a coordinated way and support the “other guy” in the huddle, even if he/she isn’t a part of your particular “ministry.” I’m looking forward to this time of planning, prayer, and play-making. Pizza will be provided.
There is an important congregational meeting following worship this Sunday, January 5. The purpose of the meeting is to elect church officers for 2014. We need good attendance to meet the quorum requirement for this meeting. The meeting should not be a long one, so please consider hanging with us for a half-hour or so after church this Sunday to help make it happen. Everyone is welcome to attend ; voting members at Emmanuel are especially urged to be present. Thank you !
A New Thing
I was encouraged by the following thoughts of Joni Eareckson Tada, sent to me today by a friend. You may know that Joni is an artist and writer who was paralyzed from the neck down in an accident in her youth. She has served the Lord ably and courageously all these years, despite physical and emotional pain. The prayer at the end of this piece is one I hope you will feel like praying too, along with me.
“Forget the former things ; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing ! Now it springs up ; do you not perceive it ? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland … (for) the people I formed for Myself that they may proclaim My praise” (Isaiah 43:18-19,21).
Cymbals clashed. Kettledrums boomed. The orchestra swept into its closing crescendo, and the final chord was struck. The audience rose to its feet and clamored, “Encore !” The scene was the Los Angeles Pavilion ; the occasion was a recent holiday symphony, and I, too, called for an encore. The musicians came back on stage and launched into a final number.
You don’t have to hold a season ticket for the best box seat at the symphony in order to appreciate encores. You know all about them. Remember that special weekend retreat last year with your Christian friends ? The fellowship was fantastic, the speaker was super and, oh, how you wish the blessings could go on and on. And now, this year, you want God to do an encore.
God, however, may not give it. But don’t take it hard. For although it’s true the Lord will never do exactly the same thing a second time around, He will do something better. A new thing. A new way. God specializes in things fresh and firsthand. He is not satisfied with the updated and revised version – He’s always quick to create something new.
His plans for you this year may outshine those of the past. His blueprint is hot-off-the-press, and He’s prepared to fill your days with reasons to give Him praise. That’s why you can begin the year with hope and expectancy.
“Lord of beginnings, I’m ready to have You do something new in my life this year. Thank You for leading me into the untouched days ahead. I’m ready to follow.”
See you Sunday !