It’s the season of making resolutions. A season of pausing, looking back and giving thanks for any spiritual progress we have made in the past 12 months. A season for looking forward and asking God to show us how we can most effectively serve Him and advance the work of His kingdom in the next 12 months.
This can be a season of melancholy for some, especially if the past year has been marked by more setbacks than victories. We’re often more keenly aware of our failures than we are of our progress. And for good reason. We have an enemy who employs a method of spiritual attack that involves ongoing accusations. He wants to remind us of our sins. He is described in scripture as the accuser.
But being reminded of our sins can only derail us spiritually if when we’re reminded, we forget the gospel. Or we remember it, but we don’t really believe it can be true.
I’ve told you before that one of the hymns I love to sing is Before The Throne of God Above. The hymn text goes back more than a century and a half. A 22-year-old pastor’s daughter named Charitie Lees Smith wrote the text just a few years following a great revival in native Ireland. The hymn was originally published under the title The Advocate and was a favorite of by men like JC Ryle and Charles Spurgeon.
The text was paired with a number of tunes over the years, most often with the tune that accompanies the hymn Sweet Hour of Prayer. But in 1997, Vikki Cook put the hymn text to a new melody and brought this wonderful song back into more regular usage.
What I love so much about the hymn is the second verse that gives us a clear pattern for how to do spiritual warfare when confronted with the charges brought against us by the enemy of our soul:
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
If, as you look back on the past 12 month during this season of year, you are confronted by a year marked more by guilt than glory, let the words of this hymn and the reality of the gospel bring comfort and joy to your soul. God’s love and grace is more than sufficient to cover the multitude of sins that have been a part of each of our lives in the past year.
So when Satan reminds you of your past failures, remind Him – and yourself – of God’s amazing grace. Believe the gospel again and rejoice.
Time to get out your 2019 calendar and make sure you have some key dates marked out.
Men, I trust you’ve put a hold on January 7, 21 and 28. Those three Monday nights are when all of us will be getting together to talk about how the issue of pornography is a snare that every man has to reckon with in our day.
We’ll be watching a new three part documentary series called Brain, Heart, World. You can see a trailer for the series here:
Seriously, guys. Let’s make this a priority.
Here’s the other date to make sure you have on your calendar.
Friday night, January 16, we’re teaming up with the good folks at Covenant Presbyterian Church for a potluck supper and an evening of great music featuring Matthew Smith from Indelible Grace Music.
Check this out.
And check out this video from Matthew’s new QuietHymns project:
“Let Me Find Thee” | Matthew Smith | OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO
A week from Sunday, we’ll begin using the new Cornerstones Questions and Answers as part of our Sunday worship services. If you haven’t ordered the books so you and your family can follow along, click the links to order both the book for the whole family and the parent’s guide so you bring a part of our worship service home for your family devotions in 2019.
Have you driven by and seen the walls starting to go up in our new church home? Below are some pictures taken earlier today.
Thanks to those of you who have already made a generous year end contribution to support the ongoing work of our church, especially as the building is being built. If you haven’t made a year end gift and you’d like to invest in the ministry of the gospel in our city, you can make an on line gift here.
Thank you for your consistent sacrificial giving.
If you haven’t yet signed up to serve a few Sundays this next year in our nursery, now’s the time. Send Kelly Rackley an email today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to all the heroic folks who help out in the nursery to give other moms and dads a chance to worship and be fed spiritually each week.
you like to know how your life can bear much fruit in 2019? John 15
has the answers for us. And we’ll dig in together this Sunday.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!