Happy new year! As we turn the page on the calendar to 2015 we can all look back and consider the ways that God has worked in our lives and has grown us. Perhaps God has done some things in your life that you could have never anticipated on Jan 1, 2014. Some of those might have been joyful moments. Some of those lessons may have been painful and a heavy burden. I can think of both in my own life. But New Year’s Eve is a hopeful time of looking forward, eager for better things and better times in our life to come. The last Sunday in December I challenged us as a church to frame our new year’s outlook with Jesus’ words to “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Commit those words to your heart and your mind so they keep our priorities in check.
I’ve also spent time looking forward to our worship gatherings in the coming year and considering the scriptures we’ll be studying together. There is incredible power in the Scripture and we want each worship gathering to be a time when it challenges us and prompts us to greater Christ-likeness. Here’s a taste of what we’re planning for in 2015…
Constant: The Faithful Love of God for an Unfaithful People. This January/February we’ll be focusing on some of the earliest stories of scripture highlighting God’s unchanging faithfulness. From Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, and Joshua, we’ll be challenged by the God who makes covenants with them and keeps them, despite their sin and failures. I hope we are blown away by the amazing God who is calling us into relationship with himself and that his faithfulness prompts us to greater faithfulness.
Of course the great display of God’s faithfulness to us is providing Jesus as our savior. In the weeks leading up to Easter (April 5), the theme of God’s faithfulness will continue. God didn’t leave us in our sin, but reduced us from death. Jesus becomes the ultimate ‘yes’ to all of God’s promises.
In late Spring we’ll be studying what real Christian community entails and challenge ourselves to embrace it more fully. Our spirituality has so much to do with our relationships with each other. Unfortunately we live in a world where people are highly individualistic. We have more digital “friends”, but seldom have significant friendships. How can we fight against the currents of culture and better love one another?
This summer we’ll be rooting ourselves in the book Hebrews, a challenging study about the ministry of Jesus while on earth and his current ministry on our behalf before the throne of God. When we gain confidence based on Jesus atoning work, it moves us out in greater faith and obedience. If there are ever days when you are tempted to give up, there will be some encouraging words for you.
In the fall Paul’s letter to the Philippian church will challenge the inner places of our hearts, examining our motives and our ability to humble ourselves. Neither one of those items is easy to deal with!
In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, we’ll focus on what it means to live a generous life. It’s much more than what is reflected by opening our wallets, but also a generous mindset in our hearts towards others.
Our season of Advent will again anticipate the coming of Jesus and prepare ourselves for his second coming. How quickly we forget the Christmas message as we approach New Year’s! But hopefully our Christmas season we’ve just gone through together will carry into the new year.
There will be some other item’s sprinkled throughout the year, but this gives you a taste of what is to come. I always welcome your suggestions, comments, questions, and struggles as we engage the word together. May God take us deeper in him and may we seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.