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2012: We’re Just Getting Started

It’s day one of a new year. It’s also day one of the rest of your life. 2011 is behind us and a clean slate is before us. January 1 is always a day of high hopes and sometimes unrealistic expectations.

If you have the idea that this year will be free from any problems, you’re already in for a rude surprise. There will be interruptions in our plans, new obstacles, and unexpected trials. Such is life. But life this year can also be pretty awesome in spite of the inevitable valleys we will encounter. It can be a year of victory because of Jesus Christ, who died to set us free and rose from the dead to set us loose upon the world to share His grace with others.

In the New Testament book of Galatians, the apostle Paul writes about the kind of year I want you and I to enjoy…

Don’t be misled – you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially those in the family of faith.

~ Galatians 6:7-10 NLT

Respect the Unbreakable Laws of God

There are certain laws God has put into place and we are powerless to break them. One is the law of time. We can’t speed time up or slow it down. We can only be better stewards of the time we’ve been given. Another is the law of sowing and reaping. We will always reap what we sow, somewhere, sometime. If we live for sinful, selfish pleasures, we will reap the results of selfishness – a short term gain and a long term loss. If we live for God, we will reap eternal benefits, beginning now in this life.

Live with Eternity In Mind

Keep going. When you’re weary and worn out, keep going. When the world around you has beaten you up, keep going. When temptation just won’t go away, keep going. Don’t stop. Keep advancing. If you are in Christ, you’ve already won. Your crown is waiting.

Keep Doing Good

In The Art of the Start, a book about entrepreneurship, Guy Kawasaki devotes his final chapter to developing a basic ethic for starting things. Rather than closing his book with a challenge to grab all you can, while you can, Guy issues three other basic challenges:

  • Help many people.
  • Do what’s right.
  • Pay back society.

I believe Guy’s inspiration was scripture. I like Dallas Willard’s timeless definition of the word discipline. He says it’s simply “doing the next right thing.”

Reap the Harvest

My favorite definition of evangelism is from Bill Bright: “Evangelism is sharing Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, leaving the results to God.” We can’t control outcomes – that’s in the hands of a sovereign, all-knowing God. But we can control inputs. That is, we can determine what we’re willing to invest. And the more we’re willing to invest, the more we harvest, in God’s time and God’s way.

I can invest my time. Over Christmas, I spent a little time with my grandmother who is in her 90′s. She told me this might be her last Christmas. She says that every year, but this year she said it with a smile and then proceeded to tell me that she had talked with God about it and she’s let Him know that she’s had enough time and she’s ready whenever He is. We don’t know how much time we have on earth, but we do know that if we survive this day, we will have spent 24 hours on something. We might as well spend it on eternal things.

I can invest my talent. God has shaped us to serve Him and others. We might try to hide behind a facade of meekness, but we need to acknowledge that God creates good things and gives people abilities that need to be re-invested into His purposes.

I can invest my treasure. I can either spend it on things that will burn up, rust out, and blow away or I can store it up for eternity by investing as much as possible into eternal things. There are only two things that last for eternity – God’s Word and people – and no other investment opportunity compares to investing in the spreading of God’s Word and the redemption and healing of people.

Keep going. We’re just getting started.

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Brandon Cox is Lead Pastor of Grace Hills Church, a new church plant in northwest Arkansas. He also serves as Editor and Community Facilitator for Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastor's Toolbox and was formerly a Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. In his spare time, he offers consultation to church leaders about communication, branding, and social media. He and his wife, Angie, live with their two awesome kids in Bentonville, Arkansas.