Category Archives: New Year’s Day

A New Thing

2017-future-road

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Whew! Got by that one! We dodged a bullet in 2016! While I remain skeptical of a Donald Trump presidency, I believe God granted us a reprieve by saving us from Hillary Clinton. Even so, the current administration continues to do its best to inflict as much damage to this nation, while in the death throes of its waning days.

Who knows what lies ahead in 2017? The stock market has taken an upward turn with the prospect of “President” Donald Trump. If he follows through on half of his promises, there is hope for better days ahead. However, the best of intentions must still deal with reality, and the reality is that we live in a very unstable and volatile world. The future is future. We can look to the past. We exist in the present, but the future is opaque at best, and dark and obscure for the most part. We cannot know what will come to pass. We can plan and hope for the best, but there is no guarantee of a calamity-free future. We can sound the waters, but sometimes there are hidden shoals that can sink our ship.

When navigating unfamiliar waters, an experienced pilot can help the captain guide the ship through safe waterways. A wise captain will turn the ship over to the pilot who knows the way. William Ernest Henley said, “I am the captain of my soul.” That foolish boast failed to avert his bout with tuberculosis, and did not stay the death angel when Henley succumbed to the disease at the age of 53.

We cannot know what 2017 will bring, nor can we avert the adversities that may come upon us. Like Henley, we may prefer to “captain” our own soul, but if we are wise, we will turn the helm over to The Pilot that knows the way. “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10, emphasis mine).

No matter what 2017 may bring, God promises to give us “a new thing” and to “make a way in the wilderness, and in rivers in the desert.” If God is your Pilot, you will do fine!

Happy New Year!

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What Next?

Happy-New-Year-2016-Images

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:  (Isaiah 46:9-10)

The Christmas lights are down. The tree and the ornaments are put away. The year 2015 is history. As I mentioned in my previous post, the year began with great expectations, most of which did not materialize, much to my dismay.  But isn’t that the way it often happens! That aside, I did accomplish some personal goals. I donated[1] my 1/60-scale model of Noah’s Ark[2] to the Institute for Creation Research.  I read the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible through.  My wife and I signed up with a physical trainer in May and stuck with the program. I lost 25 pounds, so far, and gained noticeable strength and endurance, which encouraged my doctor to take me off of my blood pressure meds. We also took a cruise along the northeast coast which granted me a longtime dream of standing on the deck of the USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides” – a wish-come-true for this old Navy boy.

In retrospect, many positive experiences and accomplishments took place in 2015, but my greatest desire did not come to pass – the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. In spite of many positive “signs,” the Lord, in His omniscience, determined that the time was not right. That in itself is a positive thing, especially for those who are lost and in need of the Savior. God in His mercy has delayed His judgment on this world (2 Peter 3:9).

So, what is in store for 2016? What comes next? Will the Lord return in 2016, or will we go to meet Him in death? Will we enjoy good health or will we or one of our loved ones experience serious illness?  Will this be the year that our lost loved ones accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior? Will our national economy implode, or will it take an upswing turn for the better? Who will be voted President, and will he (or she) have a positive influence on the country? Will our nation once more get dragged into an unwanted war?

There are so many questions for which we cannot know the answers! Certainly as we analyze world affairs, the outlook seems grim, and it makes for a good source for depression. Several coping methods can be employed to deal with the unknown and unpredictable. We can isolate and insolate ourselves from negative input. Shut off TV news, turn off the radio, and stop reading newspapers, magazines and social media. Another option is to numb your mind through chemistry, entertainment, pleasure, or other distractions. If you can’t hear it, see it or feel it, it’s not really there. Right? A third option is to face the world head on. Be aware of what is going on around you and in the world. Prepare for adversity but with hope, not paranoia. Rest in the assurance that you are under God’s protection. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father … Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28-29, 31).

What next? There is no way to know what the future holds, so trust Him who holds the future. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34). The Lord knows what 2016 will bring. He knows “the end from the beginning,” and we can be sure that He has included us in His plans. Happy 2016!

Notes:


[1]  http://www.icr.org/article/noahs-ark-model

[2]  https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/03/01/building-the-ark/

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Almost Gone

new-year-clock

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

The presents are gone from under the tree. The wrappings, ribbons and bows are all in the trash, and all the guests left days ago. Not many days remain in what’s left of this year, and soon we’ll be singing “Auld Lang Syne.”

The older I get, the quicker the years seem to zoom by. This year is no exception. I must confess that this year has been somewhat of a disappointment to me. You may attribute that to the state of politics, the economy, the rise of terror, the decline of morality in our nation, etc., and while all those things can put a damper on one’s outlook, they really are not the source of my disappointment.

I started this year with the genuine hope that this would be the year that Christ returned, and we, His children, would be taken up in the clouds to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17).  Many of the signs seemed to converge to make a good case for this being the year. First there was the third Blood Moon of the rare tetrad at Passover in April that was preceded by a total solar eclipse in March. Then the fourth Blood Moon of the tetrad appeared during the Feast of Tabernacles in late September. Add to that, the final Blood Moon followed the end of the Shamitah which modern “prophets” saw as a sign of economic collapse, (which did not occur in any way to cause great consternation). To boot, all of this leads to the Year of Jubilee, which began on Rosh Ha-Shanna, September 13.

All this year, I have looked toward the eastern sky and cupped my ear for the sound of the trumpet, and it didn’t come.

Jesus did not come. 😦

I am disappointed, but not disheartened or discouraged. After all, Jesus said, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32, emphasis mine). The modern day prophets made some good guesses solidly based on Scripture, but they obviously missed it. To their credit, none would dogmatically set a date for Christ’s return, and all offered the disclaimer that God is not bound by their speculations. Still, there was the hope.

Should that hope be abandoned simply because mortal men guessed wrong? As Paul would say, “God forbid!” Jesus promised to return: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine). There is absolutely no reason not to believe that He will do as He promised. The Old Testament is full of prophecies foretelling of His first coming, and all were proven true beyond any shadow of doubt. So accurately were those promises fulfilled, that the probability of one man fulfilling just eight of them is a virtual impossibility, yet Jesus fulfilled them all. If Scripture proved true about His first coming, then it will certainly prove true for His second coming.

A few days still remain in 2015. Jesus may return before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, or He may yet delay. Twenty-Sixteen is the Year of Jubilee and that would be a great time for Christ to return. And what if He does not come in 2016? So what! Jesus promised He will return. In the meantime He said, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8, emphasis mine). “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20, emphasis mine). We must do this because, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emphasis mine). Likewise, we should not be willing that any should perish.

Does this mean I should stop looking and listening? Of course not! “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Revelation 1:3, emphasis mine). “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). So, no lollygagging! There is work yet to be done! “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (Matthew 24:46). Perhaps in 2016!

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Fast Away the Old Year Passes

Nice-Happy-New-Year-Wallpapers

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

Another year whizzes by in a blur. Earlier this month I lamented to my youngest son, who lives in the area, that I do not see him and my granddaughters often enough. So, perhaps out of guilt, he and my granddaughters came by to visit the other night. When he entered our home he commented on our new floors. “When did you get your new floors?” “Last January,” I replied. In his busyness, he did not realize that it had been that long since he had visited inside our home, but to grandparents, that is a long time. However, in all fairness, our schedules have been just as busy, and time takes no breaks.

It is once again time to make resolutions (that will not be kept) for the New Year. I have resolved to read the Bible through in a year once more – a resolution that I will keep. I have given up on resolving to lose weight. That never works and leaves me feeling like a failure. 😦 At least by reading the Bible through in a year I can put on some “spiritual” weight.

No matter what we resolve to do in the New Year, the admonition of our starting verse should rise above and take priority over all other resolutions.  Moses’ prayer request that God would “teach us to number our days” should be our prayer. In a previous verse he says, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (v. 10). By that estimation, my allotment of years numbers between six and sixteen years, but that is not what this verse is saying. The Hebrew word translated as “number” is mânâh, and it means to “weigh out” and by implication to “assign value to.” In other words, we need to ask God to teach us how to make our days count for something in God’s economy – in God’s economy. Of course, God is concerned for the well-being of His children. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, emphasis mine). Moses acknowledges this in the opening verse of this psalm: “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations” (v. 1). We are “housed” in His care and protection. We need not worry about our circumstances; God takes care of those details. We are to “occupy till [He comes]” (Luke 19:13).

Then as we learn to make our days count, we need to “apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Our “hearts” (not the organic pump that circulates blood through our bodies) is the motivating force of our being that drives us to strive for our desires. Our desires can be wicked: “For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth” (Psalm 10:3) or they can be righteous: “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee” (Psalm 73:25). If the latter, we can put them to work wisely. The word “wisdom” here is the translation of the Hebrew word chokmâh which can also mean “skillful.” Wisdom from a biblical perspective is the skill to practically apply the truths of God’s Word in our every-day lives. Jesus tells us to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).  As we learn to make our days count for God’s kingdom, He will provide the skill to apply His Word in our lives. The material stuff – He will also provide according to our “need.”

So, in 2015, Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Happy New Year!

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Perhaps This Year!

2014

“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 25:13)

This past weekend my wife and I had dinner with some good friends from church. A little sign above their kitchen clock caught my eye. It read: “Perhaps Today.” It reminded me that Henry M. Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research, kept a similar placard on his desk as a constant reminder that Jesus could return any day. Jesus Himself commanded that we should “watch” for His return. That word in the Greek is grēgoreuō, and it means to “keep awake,” to “be vigilant.”

Jesus issued that exhortation in the context of the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). Five of the virgins were characterized as “wise” and the other five were “foolish.” All ten virgins fell asleep. Perhaps the expected Bride Groom tarried longer than anticipated, and they all grew weary in waiting. The difference is that the wise virgins were prepared with extra oil for their lamps while the foolish virgins used all they had and made no provision for the unexpected. When the herald announced the coming of the Bride Groom, the wise virgins, prepared with extra oil for their lamps, went on in to be with the Bride Groom while the foolish virgins missed the wedding.

Oil is often used to symbolize the Holy Spirit. We who are “born again” have the advantage of the Holy Spirit residing within us, and, like the wise virgins, we have the provision of the Holy Spirit so that no matter when the Lord returns, we will be prepared. However, just like the wise virgins we can become weary of waiting for the Lord’s return, and we lose focus. We fall asleep often distracted by the cares and worries of this world, and we forget to watch. Sometimes we lament, “How long for His return!” While the foolish, distracted and unconcerned, say, “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:4). And so, they have no “oil” for their lamps; they are unprepared.

Our dinner conversation quickly turned to the topic of eschatology, the study of end times. All of us at the table are on “watch” and anxiously await our Lord’s return. Someone brought up the fact that there are four “blood moons” (lunar eclipses) and a solar eclipse expected on significant Jewish feast days in 2014 and 2015. The first will occur on Passover (April 15) 2014 followed by the second on the Feast of Tabernacles (October 8) 2014. The third will occur on Passover (April 4) 2015 followed by the fourth on the Feast of Tabernacles (September 28) 2015. This infrequent sequence of lunar eclipses has historically held great significance for the Jewish people.

For example, when it happened in 1493 and 1494 Jews were expelled from Spain. The blood moons in 1949 and 1950 came right after the nation of Israel was assembled, giving the Jews a homeland for the first time in thousands of years. And in 1967 and 1968 it was linked to the Six-Day War.[1]

In addition to this, a solar eclipse is expected on March 20, 2015. This date equates to Nisan 1 on the Jewish calendar which is New Year’s Day on the Jewish religious calendar. When measured against Scripture, these phenomena should make us pay attention.

When God initiated these feasts (there are seven), He said, “these are My feasts.” “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts” (Leviticus 23:2, emphasis added). Besides the seven, modern Jews celebrate Purim and Chanukah, but these are not “feasts of the LORD.” The Feasts of the Lord is a fascinating study, which I cannot cover in this brief article. They hold great significance as they reveal God in the Person of Jesus Christ and demonstrate His plan for the ages.

The fact that this sequence of blood moons, along with the solar eclipse, looms in our immediate future has many who study eschatology excited for the prospect of Christ’s imminent return. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come” (Joel 2:31, emphasis added).

How are you fixed for oil in your lamp? “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Are you prepared for the Lord’s return? Perhaps this year! Perhaps today!

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