A Fresh Start for a New You!

      Have you already been thinking of life improvements that you would like to tackle in 2024? The New Year is a great time to reflect on those areas of our life that could use a little work. Yes, we all have something that needs our attention. Let me encourage you to take a step of faith and invite the Lord to help you in one area of Spiritual Development for the month of January. Yes, one area for one month, 31 days. You know, for time invested in that cup of coffee each day, you could make real progress by letting the Lord help!

     Let’s start with the most important question. Does Jesus Christ know you? Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)  It is important that we understand that a genuine Christian is one whom is known by Jesus. Probably the best question to ask yourself is this, “If I were to die today, do I know for certain that I would go to heaven. If you have any doubts, I mean any doubts, you may not belong to Jesus. If you have these doubts, this should be your focus for the new 31 days. You will want to identify your questions or any barrier to seek out the truth of Jesus. I will develop why this is an essential first step for each of us.

     Assuming that you are known by Christ, you demonstrate your walk of faith by living a changed life. The Bible reminds us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Take a moment and think about what it means to be changed. It means that your lifestyle is different from those that do not belong to Jesus. It involves our attitude, actions, choices. It speaks of our relationship with others.  It includes the priorities in my life. It is evident in every area by how we live our lives. These focuses are not the way to a relationship with God, but the result of my relationship with Jesus. It is the result of being a new creation.  Let me share a few words of encouragement. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37) This is true for you, follower of Jesus! Many times, we fail because we attempt to pursue change in our own strength rather that allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.

     Speaking of the Holy Spirit, let me remind us of His role in the believer’s life. Jesus reminded His disciples and us, that when His earthly ministry was finished, He would send God, the indwelling Holy Spirit to help us.  The Spirit is the guarantee securing our salvation through Jesus. The Holy Spirit’s ministry includes helping you understand God’s blessings in your life. He reassures you that Jesus knows you. He will warn you of sin and encourage you to obey, convict you if you do sin or complement you when you obey. He gives you at least one spiritual gift to build up other believers. And He is the source our spiritual character, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22–23) The Spirit is the source of our hope! Space limits me from continuing, but I hope you get the point. We have an incredible resource available to us!

      If you are struggling on where to start, could I encourage you to pick up our 30-day Reading through the New Testament challenge? Let me say it is ok if you take longer to complete the readings. The goal is to get into God’s Word. Another suggestion would be reading a portion of the New Testament each day from the Gospel of John or the letter to the Philippians. I would encourage you to take some time to talk to the Lord each day about whatever is on your heart. This is a start! Are you ready to experience God in a new way in 2024?

-Pastor Joe Parkinson

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