Observations on life; particularly spiritual

Posts tagged “New year

a txt msg frm God

2009-07_txt_350pxWhen the clock strikes 00:00 on New Year’s Eve mobile (cell) phones all over the world start buzzing with New Years’ wishes from friends and family. Huge numbers of text messages are sent, probably because people send group messages to everyone in their phone. Entire phone address lists spammed with something like, ‘Happy New Year – Have a good one in 19 – Cheers Danno’. Boring, predictable, though very friendly and nice.

It makes one wonder how we’ll cope in the future when everyone we’ve ever met or bought anything from sends us a New Year’s Eve greeting. Perhaps our artificial intelligence assistants (the Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant of the future) will gently mention that we’ve got ‘greetings from many current and former friends’, and if we ask, “Oh, who from?”, well they can tell us if we really want to know.

That’s the challenge of the age we live in, so much communication. It’s hard to separate the essential from the mundane. However, one piece of communication we really do need to know about is a text message from God.

Most text messages are short and tell you something you can forget about like, ‘I’m running 15 mins late’. The Bible isn’t like that. It’s pretty long, but, being the word of God, it’s not the kind of information you can dismiss quickly. And the Bible doesn’t muck around. Like all text messages, it tells us what the other person is thinking. In this case God tells us that He made us, loves us, and also that He’s both sad and angry that we ignore Him and do wrong things.

The best part of God’s text message to the people of this world is that it contains what’s called the Gospel. Gospel means ‘good news’. And the incredible news is; God sent Jesus into the world to save us from the judgment that is coming. Jesus died on the cross to pay the price of our sin.

But have you noticed God’s text or have you been too busy? In 2017, 781 billion text messages (SMS) were sent every month in the United States. That’s more than 26 billion texts a day, and more than 9.3 trillion texts a year. Maybe we need to put the phone down more often.

Bible verse: Acts 13:26, “it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent”.

Prayer: Dear God, please help me to read your text message and give it the attention it deserves.

Acknowledgement: This article was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.

Images and text © Outreach Media 2019

Posted January 2019


What does God want us to remember?

At the “real” start of the third millennium

This is the first month of a new year and of a new millennium. As the first year was 1 A.D., so 1000 A.D. was the last year of the first millennium. Likewise, the last year of the second millen­nium was 2000 A.D., which means that 2001 is the first year of the third millennium. So the celebrations that were held twelve months ago should have been called the beginning of the 2000s, not the beginning of the third mil­lennium, which actually begins this month.

Although one day, month or year is not necessarily more important than another (Rom. 14:5), we all like to celebrate important dates such as birthdays and wedding anniversaries. These are milestones that remind us of significant events along the road of life. Let’s look at some important events that God wants us to remember and celebrate.

Remember the Creator

After the universe was created in six days the Bible says, “By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done” (Gen 2:2-3 NIV). This is not the rest that follows weariness, but the rest of satisfaction and comple­tion of a job well done (Gen. 1:31).

The Sabbath was to be observed by the Israelites as a day of rest from everyday work, as a reminder of their God who rested after His work of creation (Ex. 31:14-17). The principle of one day’s rest in seven was estab­lished in Old Testament times for the benefit of individuals, fami­lies, employees and even animals (Ex. 20:10; Mk. 2:27). Its establish­ment in the account of creation implies that it is meant for every­one, not just for Israel.

It is said that God “blessed the seventh day and made it holy” (Gen. 2:3; Ex. 20:11). This indicates two purposes for the Sabbath rest –as a gift (or blessing) from God for the well-being of humanity, and a special (or holy) day for God. Besides physical rest, it also means remembering the Creator and praising God for His provision for us. He had given us life and time, and on this day we are to give some time back to Him.

So, the Sabbath rest is God’s milestone pointing out His good­ness to everyone as their Creator as we pause for a regular weekly break from work. Remember, the wisest man that ever lived said, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth” (Eccl. 12:1). Creation reveals the Creator’s eternal power and divine nature .(Rom. 1:20). But this is less evi­dent when life becomes more troublesome and less enjoyable. Unfortunately, those who reject this revelation, choose to worship idols instead of “the God who made the world and everything in it” (Rom. 1:23,25; Acts 17:24).

Remember the Redeemer

The Israelites were given a sec­ond reason for observing the Sabbath day: “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (Dt. 5:15). It was a weekly reminder of their miraculous deliverance from slavery in Egypt. This act of God is called “redemption,” which means “buying back” or “ransoming from captivity.” Christ was a “redeemer” in that by His sacrificial death He paid the ransom for our sinfulness and so delivered us from slavery to sin and its penalty (Eph. 1:7).

So, the Sabbath is also God’s milestone pointing out His mercy toward His chosen people as their redeemer. As the Sabbath rest included employees, the Israelites were to show a loving concern to others (Dt. 5:14). This was con­firmed when Christ healed the man with a shrivelled hand on the Sabbath (Mk. 3:1-5).

Jesus said that He was Lord of the Sabbath and demonstrated this as the Redeemer of the world (Mt. 12:8; Lk. 4:16-21). The Sabbath was “a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in. Christ” (Col. 2:17). After the day of Pentecost, it was more important to remember God’s great salvation for mankind’s sins than to remember the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt. Consequently, the early Christians met for worship and the collection of monetary gifts on the first day of the week in memo­ry of Christ’s resurrection (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2). Christian wor­ship on Sunday replaced Jewish observance of the Sabbath. It is interesting to note that according to Leviticus 23:15, the day of Pentecost (Acts. 2:1) may have been on the first day of the week. However, some authorities state that the Pharisees believed that the Sabbath referred to here is the holy day of Passover which fell on a different day each year.

The Jews also celebrated their release from slavery in the first month of each year. As God’s peo­ple in Old Testament times, they were given a series of annual reli­gious festivals by God. These festi­vals commemorated occasions when God had reached out in power to intervene for the Jews or had provided for them in a time of distress. It reminded them of God’s presence and activity among them.

The first and most important of the festivals was the Passover, which was celebrated in the first month of the religious year (Ex. 12:1-30; Lev. 23:4-8). The Hebrew calendar is based on the 29.5 day lunar cycle. Their first month commenced after the spring equi­nox and is equivalent to March/April inour calendar. As their months began at new moon and the Passover began on the fourteenth of the month, the Passover corresponded with a full moon. Easter is its direct equivalent in our calendar, being the Sunday after the first full moon on/after March 21.

The Passover corresponded with the beginning of the grain harvest (Dt. 16:9) and it commem­orated the deliverance and exo­dus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Neferhotep 1 (Ex. 12). This was achieved in a miraculous way through the death of a lamb and smearing the lamb’s blood on their door frames. The plague of death to all the first-born sons in Egypt “passed over” the Jewish households with the sign on the door frames. Soon afterwards the Egyptians urged the Jews to leave their country.

Like the Sabbath, these reli­gious festivals were said to be “a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Col. 2:17). Paul referred to Christ as “our Passover Lamb” (1 Cor. 5:7). So the Passover was an illustration of Christ’s sacrifice for us. As the death of the Passover lamb saved the Jews from death, so Christ’s death can save us from the pun­ishment of eternal death in hell. The similarity is emphasized by the fact that Jesus was crucified at the time of the Passover celebra­tion (Jn. 18:28; 19:14).

When Jesus Christ celebrated the Passover with His disciples, He instituted the Lord’s Supper by relating the breaking of bread and the drinking of wine to His coming death (Lk. 22:7-20). His followers were told to do this in His remembrance (1 Cor. 11:23­26). Believers are told, “Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). So, the annual Passover was replaced by the weekly Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7).

Now and forever

It’s obvious that God wants us to remember and celebrate His great achievements in creation and redemption. This can be done by a regular weekly break from work and by a regular par­taking of the Lord’s Supper. These are two of the most impor­tant things we can do this week, month, year and millennium –and they will refresh us physical­ly and spiritually.

Such celebrations are not only for now but are for eternity, as the role of God the Father and the Lord as Creator and Redeemer is the theme of the great future cele­bration in heaven: “You are wor­thy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being … You are wor­thy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slain, and with Your blood You pur­chased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 4:11; 5:9).

Published, January 2001


An Exciting Vision For The New Year

Each new year brings new opportunities and new challenges. Each year is a new year for us; it is not exactly the same as any other year. Some things change and we move into different seasons of life as our age increases.

Calendar
From earliest times, days, months and years were determined by observations of the sun and moon. The average length of a year according to the earth’s motion around the sun is 365.2422 days. The International Calendar, which is based on the Gregorian Calendar, begins the year on January 1, the day the Roman Senate annually took office. During the Middle Ages, January 1 was given the name “New Year’s Day.” Prior to that time, the year commenced on March 25 or December 25.

The Jewish sacred year (in the Old Testament) began near the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, and the civil year near the fall (or autumn) equinox. On the first day (Rosh Hashanah) of the civil year (according to Judaism today) they celebrated the creation of the world; this is the Feast of Trumpets (Lev. 23:23-25). The Jewish New Year’s Day in 2007 is sunset September 12, 2007 to sunset September 13, 2007.

As the Islamic calendar is about 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, the date of the beginning of the year changes by 11 days each year, and the cycle of twelve lunar months regresses through the seasons over a period of about 33 years. This means that important Muslim festivals, which always fall in the same month Hijri, may occur in different seasons over time. Also, over 33 years, their New Year’s Day moves steadily across all the seasons of the year.

The Chinese New Year starts on the second new moon after the winter solstice, which ranges between January 21 and February 21. For example, in 2007, the Chinese year begins on February 18.

Big Picture
It’s good to be able to see the big picture of what’s happening in our world. According to the Bible the big picture is:

Creation – In the beginning of time, God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them.

Fall Into Sin – Adam and Eve’s disobedience caused the creation to become cursed. Life now involves struggles and suffering.

Jesus Christ – He’s the One who came to a sin-filled world as our Savior, to save us from our sins.

New Creation Through Jesus – Beginning with His followers and ending with a new heaven and a new earth, God is in the business of making things new.

New Testament
When we look at the probable date of the writing of the books of the Bible, we see a gap of about 480 years between Nehemiah (430 bc) and James (48 ad). The books before the gap are called the Old Testament, and those after, the New Testament. Jesus heralded the New Testament; He came to earth during the gap between the two testaments. The word “testament” means covenant or agreement; in this case the agreement is between God and humanity. In the Old Testament there is the covenant of the Law. In the New Testament we find the covenant of grace which came through Jesus Christ.

New Things
The word “new” occurs 192 times in 174 verses in the New International Version of the Bible. Here are some new things in the New Testament.

Jesus said “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (Jn. 13:34-35).

The Christianity that Jesus brought into the world was like new wine compared to the old wine of the Old Testament Law (Mt. 9:16-17). New wineskins (traditions and ways of doing things) were required to hold this new wine; they were different from Judaism.

After the last supper Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you” (Lk. 22:20). This means that the new covenant promised in the Old Testament (Jer. 31:31-34) was based on Christ’s death. Also, after His death, Jesus was placed in a new tomb (Mt 27:60).

The gospel is “a new and living way” (Heb. 10:20). Believers have a new life like Christ’s resurrection life (Rom. 6:4). This is described as “a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). Also, they serve God in the new way of the Spirit (such as, love and liberty), and not in the old way of the written code (such as, fear and bondage) (Rom. 7:6).

In heaven, believers will sing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slain, and with Your blood You purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9). Christians “are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13).

John’s vision was this: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” (Rev. 21:1-5).

What A Vision!
Let’s keep this vision before us in the year ahead. We anticipate the Lord’s return soon because it is the next event in God’s timetable towards the new heaven and new earth.

Published, January 2007


Are You Ready For God’s New Year Messages?

“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars … and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” Revelation 1:19-20

Chapters two and three of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, contain a set of letters written in geographical sequence to churches in seven cities which were located in what is now western Turkey.

The first letter is to the church in Ephesus, the most important city in the province. The other six letters are ordered according to the location of each city, progressing in a counter-clockwise direction.

Each letter contains messages from Jesus Christ, the one who said, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!” (Rev. 1:18 NIV). Let’s look at some of the common features at the beginning and the end of these messages.

God Knows All About Us
Near the beginning of each letter, the Lord says either, “I know your deeds” (Rev. 2:2,19; 3:1,8,15); or “I know your afflictions and your poverty” (Rev. 2:9); or “I know where you live” (Rev. 2:13).

Our God is omniscient: “He knows everything” (1 Jn. 3:20). He knew their surroundings. He knew their problems. He knew everything these churches had done. So, God knew all the circumstances of life for each of them.

This is not surprising, as Jesus is described as being “among” the churches (Rev. 1:13). He also knows all our circumstances as individuals: “He knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for He knew what was in a man” (Jn. 2:24-25).

As God knew all about life in the churches of the first century, He also knows all about life in all the churches of today. We need to realize this. Whatever our corporate or individual situation may be, it is known by the Head of the Church (Col. 1:18-19). This should be reassuring in a world where trouble is inevitable (Jn. 16:33).

Listen To His Messages
After the main message has been delivered by the Lord to each church, He then challenges them: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22).

In the letter to each church, this command – to listen to the Spirit’s voice and hear what He has to say – is closely associated with a promise to the overcomer. An overcomer – according to John, the writer of Revelation – is one “who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 Jn. 5:4-5).

God responds to each of these church situations through the Holy Spirit, who indwells each believer (Rom. 8:11). Likewise today, He responds to our collective and individual situations through the Holy Spirit. God sends us messages like He did to each of the seven churches.

These messages may come to us in various ways. But the Bible is God’s clearest message to us, with statements that are appropriate for our various circumstances. You may also receive messages through prayer, from another believer or through peace of mind regarding a certain course of action.

It would be a good New Year’s resolution to always be ready to listen to God’s messages – and to act on them.

Published: January 2004