After the Candles Go Out

Candlelight Service
Candlelight Service

Like most churches, we have done our best to minister during the Christmas season to anyone God put in front of us as well as declare the truth of the Gospel. Having seen many new faces over the last month I guess we can deem this past Christmas season a success. Of course, nothing would make it more of a success than if all those who have come in contact with Jesus this Christmas have been changed by Him. This is not just a goal for those who do not yet believe but also very much a goal for those already a part of the church.

So, now the candles from the Christmas Eve service our blown out and, as we speak, the Christmas decorations are being taken down. It’s time for a new year.

I imagine most people are beginning the new year with thoughts of what the year will bring, some with resolutions, some with regrets looking forward to escaping the past. I guess there’s all kinds of thoughts we can have when a new year approaches. Of course, if you are a follower of Jesus, you have the opportunity to find yourself with hope; hope that the new year can be one that brings you closer in fellowship with Christ, experiencing the life-altering influence of His Spirit and the ability to hear more when your Good Shepherd speaks. I’ve been reflecting a lot on Psalm 96 as I prepare to preach a New Years message this Sunday. I love how so many of the Psalms speak of the newness we find in God, even when we’ve known Him for a long time:

Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
(Psalm 96:1)

As a pastor, I often find my personal “hope goals” are often the same as the goals I have for our church. This year, I have one goal in particular:

This year my goal is too big to be a resolution and is probably impossible to measure. As a matter of fact, this goal is something that should be on going and should be, and have always been, the most important goal of my life since meeting Jesus Christ.

This year my goal is to make decisions, act, speak and even think (thinking is probably the most difficult) as if the only thing that matters is what Jesus thinks. Is that crazy or what?!

You see, my thinking is simple. If Jesus Christ is really the creator of the universe (See John 1:1 and Col. 1:16-17) and all of this world is really about what He’s planning and what He’s doing…and…He’s calling me to follow Him, hear His voice and live the life He’s given me, then, my crazy proposal is, I should care about what He thinks.

So, that’s my New Year’s “Hope Goal.” To live, act, move and breath as though what Jesus thinks matters. What do you think? Are you crazy enough to try this with me?

I was struck by the words of Oswald Chambers this morning, as I often am, so let me conclude with an excerpt from My Utmost for His Highest:

“If we have never had the experience of taking our commonplace religious shoes off our common-place religious feet, and getting rid of all the undue familiarity with which we approach God, it is questionable whether we have ever stood in His presence. The people who are flippant and familiar are those who have never yet been introduced to Jesus Christ. After the amazing delight and liberty of realizing what Jesus Christ does, comes the impenetrable darkness of realizing Who He is.”

Now that the candles are out, it time for us to live as though Christ has come and that what He thinks really matters.

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