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End Well, Start Well

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Do you find the week between Christmas and New Year's somewhat odd?

 

It's this weird in-between week when the current year seems all but over and the new year has yet to begin. The Christmas celebrations draw to a close. If you're returning to work, you probably find it hard to focus and be productive. If you're on vacation or traveling, you're probably starting to miss the normal routine a bit. We reflect on the year behind and anticipate the changes ahead.

If you find yourself with some extra down-time this week, as many of us do, don't get to the new year only to realize that you wasted it! It can be both restful and productive.

 

1. CATCH UP ON OR FINISH YOUR BIBLE READING FOR THE YEAR.

If you're reading through the Bible in a year with us, finish well! Catch up on as many missed days as you can--even if you can't catch up enough to finish. God's Word is always profitable, and the point is saturating your mind and heart with His truth--not finishing a task. 

 

2. GET A JUMP-START ON NEXT YEAR'S BIBLE READING

Planning to read through the Bible in 2017? Why not go ahead and get started?  But don't succumb to the temptation to skip future days because you've gotten a head start! Stay ahead for as long as you can, and you'll be grateful you did when those days come when you aren't able to get to it.

 

DOWNLOAD THE 2017 CONNECTION GUIDE

 

3. SET GOALS FOR NEXT YEAR

Set aside some time this week to pray for God's direction for the coming year. What does He want to accomplish through you? How does He want to grow you? Seek His guidance as you set some spiritual goals for the coming year. Check out  Pastor Lincoln's tips for goal setting in the Connection Guide, and use the worksheet to see if they pass the test of a "good goal".

 

DOWNLOAD THE 2017 CONNECTION GUIDE

 

4. COMPLETE YOUR COMMITMENT OR MAKE A NEW ONE

Did you make a commitment to God regarding your tithes and offerings for 2016? Follow through by catching up on or completing your pledge. If that doesn't seem financially possible, pray about it before deciding that you can't give at all. Trust God's leadership, and follow through on what you believe He's asking you to do. 

Maybe you didn't make a pledge for 2016, but you want to give to God here at the end of the year. This week is a great opportunity to say "Thanks" to God for His provision and blessing over the past year, as well as to start a new goal regarding your giving.

The church office will be open until 5pm through Friday, December 30. Contributions can be dropped by the office, mailed in (must be postmarked by December 31 to be counted for 2016 for tax purposes), or you can give online.

 

GIVE ONLINE

 

 

May God richly bless your year to come!

"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."

-Ephesians 5:15-17, NASB

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Watch Expectantly

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What are you most anticipating this Christmas season?

 

Maybe it's a special present you hope is under the tree...a college student or grown child you long to welcome home for the holidays...or maybe you're anticipating  the holidays being over. 

If you have young kids  in your home, their Christmas list is probably a mile long...and getting longer by the day as they continue to think of new wants. Every day (maybe multiple times a day!) you hear that familiar question, "How much longer until Christmas??"

Waiting is hard. 

Waiting for something we're anticipating with great eagerness is even harder.

In his first letter, Peter writes, 

 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.

1 Peter 1:10-12

 

Can you imagine anticipating the advent of something special, knowing you yourself would never see or experience it? The Old Testament patriarchs  "died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance" (Hebrews 11:13).  They hoped in joy and trusted in faith  that the promised Messiah would indeed come, and that their descendants would be blessed through His arrival.

Fast forward, and now we, as those who have believed upon Christ's miraculous birth, perfect life, atoning death, and sin-crushing resurrection, now anticipate another advent: Christ's second and final coming when He will restore all things to their proper place under His authority and we will fellowship with Him forever and reign with Him in His eternal kingdom. 

As you anticipate this Christmas, anticipate Christ.

1. Pause to reflect on why we look forward to His coming. Rejoice in the healing you have experienced in Christ and the healing that the world will experience upon His return.

2. Share with your family why you personally anticipate Christ's return.  Read the Christmas story together and along with other passages  foretelling and describing His return. (This is a great opportunity to show children how to use a concordance!)

3. Pray. Spend time in quiet solitude, worship, and gratitude as well as set aside time to pray with your spouse or family. Pray for our world in its sinful state; pray for specific people you know to experience the hope and healing of Jesus; pray for each other to have a renewed joy this Christmas that's based on spiritual, not material, gifts.

 

As we celebrate Christ's first coming this Christmas, may it renew your anticipation of His second coming. Watch expectantly. Wait with great excitement and anticipation. For all other joys pale in comparison to the  surpassing greatness of our God and His gift of salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 


 

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