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Polls taken at the end of the year show that 2 out of 3 people say that 2013 was a bad year. It has been a tough year. The economy is still sluggish in the US and now we are facing the fiasco of Obama Care which is probably going to make things more difficult in 2014.
When I think of the new year I think about a toy some of you may remember. It was called “Etch A Sketch.” It had two dials and you would fill the board up with your drawing. When you were through you just gave it a shake and everything just went away and you could start all over again. That is the way I feel about a new year.
Someone said, “your future is spotless.” I don’t know who said this, but I like it. This is true, our future is spotless. We have an opportunity to correct some of the mistakes we have made in our past.
I want to encourage you to take a look at some of your failings from 2013, and instead of getting bitter, get better. Use your failings, not as stumbling blocks, but as stepping stones. Learn from your mistakes. As we go into this next year determine to make it a year in which God will be glorified in all that you say and do.
There are a lot of discouraging things happening and we have to watch our attitudes. We don’t want to become downhearted. I know that a lot of the information I share here might discourage you. There is reason to be concerned by some of the things we share in this ministry but I want to remind you of Isaiah 59:1:
Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
I want you to realize that no matter what difficulties and hardships we may be going through, God is still on the throne, He is still sovereign. His hand is not shortened that He cannot save us. He is still able to rescue us. He is still able to hear us.
If we will be what we should be, if we will be the salt and light He has called us to be in our communities, I am confident that God can revive our nation. I really believe that if we follow God’s recipe God can bring victory.
As I have said many times, when we think of revival we make the mistake of thinking that we are waiting on God. No! It is God that is waiting on us. When we turn our hearts toward Him and start following what He wants us to do we will see God bring us back to blessing. He has laid out the plan for revival in 2 Chronicles 7:14:
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
I was going to get into the report that I started yesterday, but I want to encourage you as we come into this new year. I just felt lead to share with you a message of encouragement today.
Listen to Galatians 6:9:
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
I know that it is sometimes easy to get discouraged. Sometimes is seems that no matter how hard we try, we just aren’t getting anywhere.
I want you to imagine a big train steam engine. Behind it you have all of the passenger cars and the freight cars. Isn’t it amazing what steam can do? When you heat water to 212 degrees (100 Celsius) it beings to boil and the water becomes steam. The pressure from that steam can move that locomotive and it will pull thousands and thousands of pounds of cargo and people over plains and mountains across our nation. It all happens because we heat the water to the boiling point. If you only heated that water to 211 degrees the train will not move an inch. Just being one degree away can make the difference between success and failure.
Sometimes we think that the train has been sitting there for so long with no progress that nothing can be done. We seem to be working so hard to get the train of godliness and righteousness moving and nothing seems to happen. So we think nothing can be done. We may be just heating the water to 211 degrees. Just a little more may be needed to get the train moving. Don’t give up! We could be so close.
Think about the above verse. Have we become weary in well doing? Are we doing what is right? If we are standing on God’s principles we are. It may seem that we have run up against a wall and in spite of all of our efforts nothing seems to be happening. Don’t give up! Keep on keeping on. Remember, God will bring the harvest in due season if we faint not.
Lets look at 1 Corinthians 15:58:
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Don’t give up just because of the adversity. Don’t give up because you don’t think we are having the success we should have or we are not seeing the victories we want to see. Christians will always face adversity. The Scriptures promise adversity if we follow Christ. Remember the Apostles. They were put in jail, beaten, and killed because they stood for Christ and His precepts. This is the fight that God has called us to.
The Old Testament is full of difficulties faced by those who would stand for the things of God. Remember the three Hebrew children, they had to face a fiery furnace. Remember Daniel, he had to face a lion’s den. Remember Moses, he had to face Pharaoh. There will always be adversity but don’t give up.
As we go into this new year I want to encourage you, that what ever your failings were last year, it is a new year and you can make corrections in your life.
I want to talk about one of my failing of this past year. One of the things in my life that could be better is my prayer life. I believe wholeheartedly that there is power in prayer but you wouldn’t know it by how much time I spent in prayer last year. I say this with shame, humility, and a broken heart. I want to change this.
This is the beauty coming into a new year. It is a great time to admit your failings and commit to changing your life. It is a good time to say now I have a chance for a new start. For me, I want to make 2014 a year of prayer. Maybe you will join me in this. The Bible teaches that there are some things that cannot be done unless it is bathed in prayer and fasting.
Remember the story in Matthew 17 when the disciples were out ministering to people and they came across a man whose son was demon possessed and they were not able to cast the demon out? The father brings his son to Jesus and says, your disciples were not able to help him, and Jesus heals the boy. Listen to Matthew 17:19-21:
Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
The Lord is teaching us that there are some things that cannot be accomplished until we spend some time on our knees before God in prayer.
Let me tell you some things I have learned about prayer through the years. I have found that the time I spend in prayer shows God my sincerity, my humility, and my trust in Him. When I come to the Lord with my needs and I pour them out before Him on the altar of prayer I am showing God my sincerity in the issue. When I keep coming to Him again and again and again I show Him my dedication, my patience and my earnest desire. I am admitting to Him that I can’t do it, but I know He can.
We have a broken nation and we cannot fix it, but God can. Sometimes we make the mistake of doing everything we think we can do and, as a last resort, we turn to God in prayer. We only come to Him because we have come to the end of ourselves. It is important that we learn to go to Him early in these matters. We should actually come to Him first.
I love something that E. M. Bounds said. He said, “The church is looking for better methods, God is looking for better men.” We are looking for a better way to fix things. We think that if we do things differently, try a new method, we can fix things. God is looking for better men, men who will trust Him and seek His face in prayer. He is looking for men who will allow His power to flow through them. Who rules in the holy of hollies in your heart? Is it God, or is it self? I believe the answer is found in your prayer life.
Lets make 2014 a year where we spend more time in prayer.
What Will You Do With This New Year?