“…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 3:13, 14
How do you turn over a new leaf in your life? Do you begin by breathing a prayer thanking God that before you, lies a future untainted by the failure and troubles of the past? Whether it is the first day of new year, or the emerging of a tender shoot through the barren grounds as Spring comes, that which is new gives hope that it can be better. Do you ever walk on the beach after a wave has swept away the footprints and imperfections of the sand? It is clean, fresh, and virgin…like the snow which covers a landscape masking every footprint and mark.
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, one of the fundamental differences between human beings and nature is the matter of RENEWAL. (You have been hearing this from my sermons for the past two Sundays of January. You will continue to hear it from me for the remaining Sundays of January. By the time you receive this Newsletter, you already heard and listened to the last two sermons on this theme “RENEWAL.”). Wherever he or she goes, human being tends to pollute the environment and leave behind waste and destruction, but God’s touch brings gentle restoration in nature as well in our personal lives. In the beginning God instructed that REST and RECOVERY was essential. There was and is the Sabbath as a day of rest, and God even instructed that farm land be rested and crops rotated, something that took modern agriculture many centuries to learn.
RENEWAL – beginning anew – is a spiritual matter as well. It is the work of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives and can never be accomplished by us acting on our own. Spiritual Renewal is possible only as we allow God to work in our lives. “The inward man” wrote the Apostle Paul, “is renewed day by day.” Some people, and many of them are “Christians”, live in a world of broken pieces held together with the glue of bitterness. Renewal means change, and they don’t want change. They would rather live in a world of bitterness, excuses, failures, shattered dreams, broken relationships, and crushed heart thank risk the adventure of renewal.
I am thinking of the cartoon by Charles Schultz showing Lucy talking to Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown says, “You’re going to be proud of me, Lucy. I’ve decided that this year is going to be my year of decisions!” He continues, “This is the list of the things in my life that I’m going to correct. I’m going to be a better person!”
Lucy responds, “Not me…I’m going to spend this whole year regretting the past. It’s the only way, Charlie Brown. I’m going to cry over spilt milk, and sigh over lost loves…. It’s a lot easier. It’s too hard to improve. I tried it once. It drove me crazy!”
Charles Schultz makes the issue so ludicrous that we smile, yet a lot of us are just like Lucy. Could you be holding on to your past instead of letting go so you can grasp the present?
Remember these guidelines from the pen of the Apostle Paul,
“…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:13, 14-

Thank God, dear people of GUMC, for the renewal of God’s Spirit and manifest presence. We can begin anew, make a fresh start. Make the best of it with God’s help.

Pastor Gideon

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