2 Timothy 2:13 ESV If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself
The Christmas bells are safely packed away in their cases and the small nativity scene has returned to its box. Though the wise men still stand above the china cabinet it will not be long before they are sent back to their far country on a shelf in the garage. This week between Christmas and New Year is quiet with the anticipation of what lies ahead and a sad sweetness of the end of our celebration of the birth of Jesus. – And yes, I know that December 25th was probably not the day he was laid in the manger, but today I wanted us to look back at that moment one more time to remind ourselves of what remains. Jesus remains and today’s verse tells us that He remains faithful.
Every day of the year is the day that our Lord has made, and every night is another night in the stable of our hearts where Jesus comes to be born in the middle of our mess. A New Year is already in the books somewhere in the world, but God is more interested in the calendar of our hearts than the calendar on our walls. If we make a time and a place for Him, He will come to bring light into our dark and empty places. But if we choose to go our own way and deny Him by our life’s choices, Jesus still remains. He is the I am. He is Alpha and Omega. He is the author and the editor of our faith and of all history. He remains, never packed away, never out of season, never failing. Thank God for such an amazing and mighty Savior; and, in the year, that ahead the best news of all is that He remains!
And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” 2 Samuel 9:7 ESV
This verse paints us a beautiful picture of the restoration of Mephibosheth, but he is not the focus of the story. The return from Lo Debar begins in the heart of David keeping his promise to a friend. In the same way, restoration in our lives begins in the heart of God. In our culture today, it is common to say that people are special and that on their birthday we celebrate their “special” day. We pay more to go to doctors who are specialists and pour resources into programs to help people with “special needs.” Of course, there is nothing wrong with encouraging people to think they have special value, but it is dangerous to make any person the center of our lives. The reality is, that only God is special and that everything good flows from making Him and His love the center of our story. So, let’s look at the wonderful things that happened to our friend Mephibosheth as his life was changed forever by the kindness of King David.
First, Mephibosheth was given everything that his grandfather had lost by sin and rebellion against God. Instead of digging up past failures, David focused on giving his friend’s son a fresh start. In the process of fleeing to Lo Debar Mephibosheth had been crippled by a fall. The society of his day considered him no more important than a common beggar. But David didn’t look down on Mephibosheth, instead he provided him with a life of dignity and respect. Secondly, David was not satisfied with just blessing Mephibosheth. He also wanted Mephibosheth to be close to him. While many generals, wealthy merchants and priests were held in high esteem by the people, only a select few could sit down and have dinner with David. In the same way, God invites you and I to sit close to Him. God wants to do more than just bless us. He wants to be our closest friend! But we will never fully know Him until we know that returning from Lo Debar is about more than only blessings. It is about sitting down at the table with Jesus every day and getting to know Him better and better every day of our lives!
Milk Eggs and Worry in the New Year by Peter Caligiuri
That is why I say to you, don’t worry about living—wondering what you are going to eat or drink, or what you are going to wear. Surely life is more important than food, and the body more important than the clothes you wear. Look at the birds in the sky. They never sow nor reap nor store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Matthew 6:25- 26 Phillips
I must confess that we New Englanders brag a lot about how tough we are when it comes to winter. We laugh uproariously at stories of school districts in the South shutting down because of a couple of inches of snow. But no matter how many New England snowstorms we have lived through, often our conversation at home when it starts falling, begins with the words, “Honey, can you run to the store to pick up milk and eggs?” Somehow, despite knowing that hens will keep on laying and cows will continue to give milk, we go into panic mode. No matter how tough we seem to others, Jesus knows us all the way to the core of our fearful hearts. He sees that no matter how many times He has provided daily bread and protected us through long cold nights that at the first sign of a storm we act as if God won’t take care of us this time. But if as Jesus tells us we watch the birds, we’ll see that none of them stay up late at night looking for bird seed, bugs, or worms. They simply fold their wings, tuck their heads then and drift off to sleep. It seems lately as if we are facing a record number of storms including presidential politics, hurricanes and a pandemic that just doesn’t want to quit. But what will count in the year ahead is not what problems we are face, but who we face them with. Our same God who is an expert on feeding the birds loves us more and knows exactly how to care for His children.
Let’s be honest, some of us will be snoring when the ball drops in Times Square this New Year’s Eve. After all, despite all the hoopla, nothing really changes, and January first is just another day. I had huge expectations when I was a young boy. I remember getting dressed up for the big New Year’s celebration at my aunt’s house. As I got ready, I was nervously anticipating what would happen at the stroke of twelve. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I felt that it would be life changing. When the moment arrived, there were shouts of “Happy New Year” with hugs and kisses all around. Aside from all the fresh-baked treats, the noisemakers were my favorite part. It was my once-a-year opportunity to make a terrible racket without getting into trouble. When the confetti settled, it was quite a letdown when I realized that nothing significant had actually happened. Suddenly it all felt so hollow and after that year, I never got very excited about New Year’s Eve. Then fifteen years later, as a new believer, I experienced a very different way to welcome the New Year. I probably ate a bit too much at my church’s potluck dinner that night, but I can’t say that I regret it. As we cleared the tables, midnight was quickly approaching. We each found a place in the sanctuary to kneel and pray. We hardly noticed as midnight came and went without fanfare, but in God’s presence, I was not left feeling hollow. That year, I knew in my heart that something significant had happened and that when we prayed, God listened, and was ready to work in marvelous ways. So my prayer for you is that you give your New Year to God, and then watch Him get involved and give you a Blessed New Year!
The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) is able to accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]. James 5:16 AMP
A Little Sunshine News
The beginning of a New Year is the best time to look back and be thankful for the year we have passed through. Sunshine News has grown over this past year by the addition of Pastor Janice Burnett and Rob Keller as regular contributors. Our little publication which began as a single page devotional given out to a single facility has grown to be available in 8-9 Senior Communities in Florida and Western New York. If you would like to write for Sunshine Newsletter, we would love to hear from you in 2022! We are looking for devotionals, news, humor, poetry or inspirational quotes. Most of all please pray for our team’s outreach to facilities that have been sometimes locked down, often stressed out and daily struggling through two years of Covid-19. We begin believing that God is so amazingly good that He sent Jesus for everyone who is willing to receive Him as Lord and Savior. He remembers those who are forgotten and specializes in restoring the weakest of hearts. Thank you and God bless you in the New Year ahead!
God specializes in giving people a fresh start! Rick Warren