Today is January 1st, 2013 and I am sitting at my computer writing this week’s bulletin. It is 8:45 a.m. Tuesday morning, not an unusually early time to be working except I stayed up to 3:00 a.m. the night before bringing in the New Year. Why do so many of us celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another?
Perhaps we simply enjoy a good time or look for an excuse to be with our friends and loved ones. After all, clean wholesome fun is something we prize in our lives. Maybe it is the idea of a “new” start or the fact we have completed another milestone in life. A new year may also lead us to reflect on the past and hope for the future.
Was 2012 a good or bad year? Your answer would most likely depend on what happened and your opinion of those events. And your view about last year may well influence the way you feel about this year’s prospects. For instance, if last year was difficult you might just as soon forget it and get on with the new. Maybe 2012 was so bad that you have little hope for 2013. But on the other hand, if last year was great, then perhaps you have a positive outlook for this year.
We should also be thankful that past problems do not have to repeat themselves. So if last year was bad, work hard to improve the next. Conversely, if the last twelve months were good, do not sit back and count on everything going well again. Whatever life brings, do your best and take advantage of every opportunity to move forward. Look at the beginning of this year as a time and chance to reflect and get better.
I believe the Grissom Road congregation had a great 2012 in many ways. It was our first full year in our new building. I am grateful for the work of our elders and how they fed the flock and reached out to the lost. Many volunteered their time and talents in teaching, preaching, and leading the acts of worship. Our members took care of cleaning the building and preparing the Lord’s Supper. As a preacher, I understand the value of sound and visual aids, and am thankful we have a few men who make sure these run smoothly. We had two full days of work around the grounds of the building and several lent their help.
I am most pleased with the spiritual growth of so many of our members. Some who had never taught before did so for the first time last year. Some of our men who had never preached before did so in 2012. In fact, we had eighteen different members preach last year, with eight doing so for the first time either last year or the year before. We offered a good variety of bible classes, for all ages and on various subjects, and many attended faithfully. For those who want to grow, you have the chance to do so at Grissom Road (1 Thess. 5:11). Our goal is for everyone to reach Heaven.
None of this is to pat ourselves on the back, because we are simply doing what Christ wants us to do. Christians should be training, strengthening, and encouraging one another (Acts 18:23). And, I am not suggesting we have done all we can do. Until every member is doing what he or she can we will continue to urge them. Not only that, but those currently involved should look to carry on and expand their efforts. There is much work in the Father’s kingdom and so do not become complacent.
Now, I want you to reflect about your own spiritual work this past year (2 Cor. 13:5). It is easy for us to think we did more than we did, so be honest in your evaluation. Do you know and understand more about God’s Word this January than you did last? What specific service did you do for the Lord last year and how much time and energy did you give Him? How often did you call to check on the sick or go by to visit a member in the hospital? Did you go to any of the gospel meetings in the area? There were one hundred and seventy opportunities for you to assemble with the saints at Grissom Road last year (Heb. 10:25-27). How many did you make?
Think about your day to day life for a moment and ask yourself, “did my light shine routinely and clearly in the world (Matt. 5:14-16)? A Christian’s life sets him apart and is markedly different from sinners (2 Cor. 6:14-18). For example, we control our speech with grace, which means we know how and what to say under all conditions (Col. 4:6). When others mistreat us, we respond with kindness and love (1 Peter 3:8-9). Never miss a chance to teach others about Jesus (Acts 8:4). We show no fear at what others may say or do when they attack our faith (Heb. 13:6). Were you confident in Christ this past year and did your light shine in a way to glorify His Name?
I am thankful for a new year and another day to improve my service to the Lord. So, whatever successes or failures I had last year, this year gives me a chance to do better, as it does for you as well. Start out 2013 by tracking your progress. Count the number of times you assemble with the saints, how often you read and study the Bible, and how well you let your light shine. By keeping a record of the “good” and “bad” in your life you should know at year’s end if you grew. We have much work left to do at the Grissom Road congregation.