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“A Word for this Week” - Pastor Bill Mugnolo
Week of November 29-December 5, 2021: “A New (Church) Year’s Challenge”
… 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13.
While we normally associate January 1st with the beginning of the New Year, there are other “new year’s” dates during the calendar yearsuch as the Jewish and Chinese New Years. This past Sunday marked the beginning of a New Church Year with the start of the Season of Advent. Now for the January 1st New Year, many people make “New Year’s Resolutions” in an attempt to make positive changes in their lives. But these resolutions are often kept for only a few weeks.
But at the beginning of this new Church Year, we hear words from one of our appointed Sunday lessons, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, which challenge us to make positive changes in our spiritual lives. This “New (Church) Year’s Challenge” first challenges me to grow as your pastor. In verse 9, I am challenged to grow in my thanksgiving and joy that I’m meant to have in serving you. Verse 10 speaks of how I am to remember you in my prayers “night and day”. Then, in verse 11, I am to pray that the Lord would direct me to you so that you would grow in your faith.
Then, this passage challenges all of us to grow, as it says in verse 10, in ways in which we might still be “lacking” in our faith. While our salvation in Christ has been perfectly accomplished, we are always meant to grow in it. In some ways, we might lack maturity in our faith. In some ways, we might even be like infants in Christ who, at long last, need to grow up (1 Corinthians 3:1-2a). We are also challenged, in this Church year ahead, to, “increase and abound in love for one another and for all” (verse 12), and to, “establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints” (verse 13).
But notice what else these last two verses say about how we meet this New Church Year’s challenge of growing in Christ: Paul writes, “… may the Lord make you increase and abound in love … so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness.” Apart from Him, our attempts to grow in faith would soon fail just like so many “January 1st type New Year’s Resolutions”. But in Him, we have forgiveness, life, and power to meet our New Church Year’s challenge to grow in our faith and to abound in love for one another.
Replace today's negative thoughts with God's eternal truths, guided by the following list passed down to us from an unknown source.
This is especially important in dealing with the Coronavirus and all the bad news we are hearing.
Keep God's Word close at hand to combat the negative thoughts.
The world says: "Its impossible." God says: "All things are possible." (Luke 18:27)
The world says "I'm too tired." God says: "I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28-30)
The world says: "Nobody really loves me." God says: "I love you." (John 3:16, 34)
The world says: "I can't go on." God says: "My grace is sufficient." (2 Corinthians 12:9; Psalm 91:15)
The world says: "I can't figure things out." God says: "I will direct your steps." (Proverbs 3:5- 6)
The world says: "I can't do it." God says: "You can do all things." (Philippians 4:13)
The world says: "I'm not able." God says: "I am able." (2 Corinthians 9:8)
The world says: "It's not worth it." God says: "It will be worth it." (Roman 8:28)
The world says: "I can't forgive myself." God says: "I forgive you." (1 John 1:9; Romans 8:1)
The world says: "I can't manage." God says: "I will supply all your needs." (Philippians 4:19)
The world says: "I'm afraid." God says: "I have not given you a spirit of fear." (2 Timothy 1:7)
The world says: "I'm always worried and frustrated." God says: "Cast all your cares on Me." (1 Peter 5:7)
The world says: "I'm not smart enough." God says: "I give you wisdom." (1 Corinthians 1:30)
The world says: "I feel all alone." God says: "I will never leave you or forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)