The New Year is here and California Southern Baptists have much to celebrate as we look back at 2008.
Even in times of difficulty, our churches and their members were steadfast in their resolve to pray, give and go to reach not only their neighbors in California, but across the United States and literally throughout the world.
Gifts from California Southern Baptist churches enabled you to be on mission in a variety of ways including new church starts in California; healthy church consultations to strengthen churches; evangelism training through the On Target conference and additional multi-ethnic conferences; missions and ministry conferences and action projects for men, women, boys and girls; help for churches, pastors and staff that found themselves in difficult places; migrant ministries; disaster relief; and expanded communication through the CSBC Website and e-newsletters. The list could continue.
Looking back at 2008 I am amazed at God's grace, direction, protection and love. At times the days looked dark and dreary, especially during the final quarter of the year when the fiscal downturn became more pronounced. Many I know and many in our churches have been affected by the current economic malaise.
However, it is in times like these God works in lives to build character, perseverance and reliance on Him despite the pain in which we might find ourselves. It is in times like these that we must realize God is in control of every situation. He has not left us, but promises to provide for all our needs - material, spiritual and physical.
In the Sermon on the Mount - Matthew 6 - God tells His people not to worry about what to eat or drink or wear because life is more important. He encourages us not to worry and tells believers we are "valuable" to Him. At the end of the chapter He continues by saying pagans run after and worry about things such as food, drink and clothes. God encourages us to seek first "His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
He concludes the chapter by telling us not to worry because "tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." If you've lived any length of time, you know that is true. Just when we think the world or possibly our situation can't get any worse, it seems to. Yet, our God, our heavenly Father, cares for us.
I encourage you in this New Year to rejoice over the great things God has done in your life and the life of your congregation in 2008, while depending on Him to meet every need in 2009. Together, and with God's leadership, we will make a difference in our world as we proclaim His Good News!