Fresh Start…New Beginnings
By Chris Rathbone
Happy New Year everyone! As always, it’s hard to believe that another year has passed and here we are in 2020. It seems as though the Thanksgiving and Christmas season came and went so quickly and here, we are in a new year. We have been richly blessed by the Lord in that He has seen us through another year. No doubt 2019 had its ups and downs. But here we are, alive to face another year with Jesus. As we reflect on last year, I’m sure that many of us have had many challenges. There are some who faced financial or career changes. Some, out of nowhere had changes to their health situation. For many, no doubt, the passing of a loved one seemed to change everything in your life. There were situations that none of us saw coming nor had we planned for such events in our lives. However, by God’s grace and with Jesus by our side, we made it.
Even with all the challenges we faced, let us not forget the blessings of the previous year! Well, we are still alive! That’s a big one in itself! We made through 2019 with food to eat, clothes on our back, a roof over our heads, a job, electricity, transportation, etc. And guess what? Those aren’t even the best blessings we had! There’s our family, our friends, our church families, all those people in our lives that we love. When times were hard, we had someone there by our side to help us along the way, to pray with us and for us. We were fortunate enough to have a church family to worship our Savior with us. The fellowship of the believers is such a blessing from God. God is good, even when life is hard, God is good.
As we reflect on last year we are also looking forward to the future. We may not know what lies ahead in this upcoming year, but we do know the One who does! We often make a lot of plans for a New Year. Plans to change some bad habits and start some good ones. The number of diet plans that start on January 1st would make our heads spin. I’d say that diet and exercise resolutions are at the top of the list and are also at the top for being a resolution that is broken. We have become a culture that is obsessed with physical health while we ignore our spiritual health. Billions of dollars are spent each year on “healthy living”. Gym memberships, exercise equipment, nutrition plans, personal trainers, vitamins, organic foods, oils, meds, miracle creams, etc. Infomercials promise results that no one else can deliver. Now don’t get me wrong, I certainly believe that diet and exercise bring benefits into our lives and certainly help us feel better. That’s something I strive to do myself, although it’s certainly a struggle sometimes. The mistake we make is emphasizing physical health while ignoring our spiritual health.
The physical bodies that you and I live in are temporary. Every single one of us, apart from Jesus coming for His church, has an appointment with death. We will leave this world for heaven or hell through physical death. There’s no escaping it apart from Jesus coming and if you’re lost without Jesus there’s no escape at all! While it is beneficial for us to have healthy habits, those benefits are only temporary. Regardless of how healthy we eat, how much we exercise, how many vitamins we take; we will all continue to grow older. We cannot stop the aging process no matter how hard we try. The most important thing is that we have placed our faith in Jesus as our Savior and whether we leave this world when Jesus comes or through death, we are ready!
Now I know you’re probably thinking, “Good grief preacher, can you give us a little encouragement?” Well, I’m glad you asked! The challenge before us in this New Year shouldn’t be focused just on our physical health, but on the most important thing in our lives: our relationship with Jesus. The apostle Paul wrote in 1st Timothy 4:8 “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” Paul isn’t saying that there is no “profit” to physical exercise, he’s saying that it is only temporary. “Godliness”, or the spiritual part of our lives has benefits in this life and the life to come. In other words, the priority should be on the spiritual and not just the physical.
This new year let’s get our priorities where they should be. Yes, we can strive to eat right and exercise for the temporary benefits it brings in this life. But how bout we strive for godliness. Those things that will bring us benefits both now and in eternity. How much better this year before us could be if we pray more, study more, worship more and witness more. What if we decide we are going to seek the kingdom of God first? What great blessings we could all be if we decide to serve in our local church instead of just being a pew warmer! Let’s resolve to live Godly in Christ and let Him cause the rest to fall in place! We have been given a New Year, let’s live it for the glory of Jesus!
Preacher Chris Rathbone serves as Pastor at Mine Creek Baptist Church.