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Perspective - January 2014
The beginning of a new year always brings excitement, with new expectations based on possibilities. The memories of the previous year always will be part of our lives and we should never forget them, for it is in remembering that we build and move into the future.

Ah, but the freshness of the new brings a spirit of joy, peace, love and the blessings of God.

Have you ever just wanted to start over - on a project, a fitness regimen, a sermon or Sunday school/small group lesson? We've all been there and know that if we've remembered the past and built on it, sometimes we've tried to do that particular task on our own and excluded the Lord who should guide all our activities.

I've been thinking about new beginnings I see in the Bible - I'll only mention a few though I could name many. Those that come to mind and will be familiar to most include the children of Israel's exodus from Egypt on their way to the Promised Land, and ultimately after their disobedience, their entrance.

And what about King David's sin with Bathsheba, and his confrontation by Nathan? One of the most vivid stories of new beginnings is the Apostle Paul after his eye-opening, or closing, encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus!

The Lord is always with us, even in new beginnings. So, as we move into a new year, my encouragement is for us to remain focused on the mission God has given us. The unsaved population of California, if it were a nation, would be the 40th largest country in the world just behind Morocco and ahead of Peru. This is based on the International Organization for Standardization, which lists 242 independent countries and inhabited dependent territories in the world.

As we move forward let's not listen to the voices of the world that give the impression that Christianity is on the way out. Not so. World leaders for centuries have tried to stop the advance of Christianity, yet the church continues to grow because of the saving message of Jesus Christ.

One of my earliest readings was the book "John Foxe's Book of Martyrs." As a young Christian, the stories of believers being killed moved me to tears. I believe in a faith grounded on the promises of God that bring comfort to my soul.

We sing "Our God is an awesome God," and then retreat into a corner of despair. I encourage California Southern Baptists to "stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord." He who is faithful will never leave or forsake us. Our voices need to be voices of hope and comfort to a confused world.

In Matthew 16:18b, the Lord says, "I will build my church and the forces of Hades will not overpower it." He is with us! Let us never forget Christ's presence and the security of His promises.
Last Published: December 31, 2013 12:52 AM