Looking to a New Year

I am changing my color scheme for January, even though it’s still December 31st as I write this.

As the New Year comes on, I am thanking the Lord for His mercy.

Boy, have I needed it!  In the last few months, I have been forced to take a long look at the contents of my heart.  I know that this work is not done, but the Spirit of God is already at work breaking up some gnarly bits of encrustation.  I will say a little more about this below.

I have recently begun working on a new Scripture memory passage.  It is Luke 6:20-49.  So far, I have learned vv. 20-36, but I do not yet have them down cold.  I will type them here from memory and then say a few words of comment at the end.

And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say,
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied.  Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil for the sake of the Son of Man.  Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.  For in the same way, their fathers used to treat the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.  Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry.  Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.  Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold you shirt from him either.  Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them.  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners do the same.  If you lend to those who lend to you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.

“But love you enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.  Be merciful, just as you Father is merciful.”                 – Luke 6:20-36

That is what I have for now.  (I had to peek once.  :-))  I plan to memorize through the end of the chapter (v.49) soon.  This is what I want in my heart, as I head into the new year.

Luke says that there was a whole crowd of people present to hear the Lord Jesus say this, but He turned His gaze to His disciples when He said it.  Those of us who would be His disciples must listen carefully as He says — to us! — both “Blessed are you…” and “Woe to you…”

As I think back over the last two and a half years or so, I realize that I have not really walked as the Lord’s disciple in some very key ways.  It has hurt me and many of those whom I love.  It is very hard to face up to these things.  But I am praying that I will become the sort of man whose life exudes the kind of discipleship the Lord describes in Luke 6.  There is no hope, of course, unless God Himself does this work in me by His Spirit.  But I purpose to seek Him in this way.

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!”  — II Thessalonians 3:16
Have a blessed New Year!

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2 thoughts on “Looking to a New Year

  1. Oh boy…

    This scripture touches on the biggest issue I’ve been dealing with for the last year. My soul is at war, trying to decided how a true disciple of Christ is to live in the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of man simultaneously.

    I have been reading several books lately all pointing to an alternate lifestyle from that which the world presents us with. Not just going to church/worshiping/praying/tithing ect., but something extreme that most Christians are quick to call irrational. Then I read scriptures like this that seem only to confirm what these Christian authors are pointing out. Yet, I see no movement toward such a lifestyle that it seems like “if no one is doing it, how can it be right?”

    This lifestyle I’m talking about is the one that Christ is calling blessed in the passage you are memorizing. Blessed are the poor, hungry, weeping, hated/ostracized/insulted/scorned. And not just that these people are blessed, but woe to those who are the opposite… woe?! If Christ came to me and said, “Woe to you James…” well, it would quite possibly be a heart stopper. Going by this passage alone, it seems that being a person of few possessions and much love is a key aspect of being a disciple of Christ, and having many possessions is quite in opposition. Well, why don’t we just start giving away our stuff to those in need and living day by day trusting YHWH?

    Because everyone seems so convinced that being poor is very un-Christian! It means you are a very irresponsible person they say. If I’m ever going to get married I need to have a good job, a house, and money in the bank stockpiled to guarantee security, independent of YHWH, for years to come. Nothing I can recall that I have run across in the scriptures says, become rich so that your family will have great comfort in the world for years to come… I’m pretty sure your passage is condemning the very idea!

    I guess I’m even questioning my purpose here on earth, which is nothing new for a young American boy. It’s going to be hard to find a wife with a punch line like, “I’m gonna be poor and hungry for the rest of my life, so how about you and me babe?” Haha, look at me rant! Most people I talk to smile and nod and mention something about being “young” and “idealistic”. Apparently I’ll fall right into line and join the “American Dream” when I get older and wiser. Sometimes I feel like living in the Kingdom of God is so impossible… but again I am young and idealistic. Wisdom will come in it’s time, and when it does I suppose I’ll be called to live a “woe to you” lifestyle…

    Love you KC and hope we can get together soon!

    • A THOUSAND AMENS!!!
      I too am reading such materials… I find myself yearning for living life in a community of believers who see their mission to BE the church amid the squallor of the downtrodden. I totally agree with what you’re saying about possession; one of the things I am thinking about a lot these days is the fact that, at forty, I live in a surburbia in a house chock full of all of the crappola that I’ve accumulated.
      When you get a sec, James, check out these links and let me know what you think:
      https://www.multnomah.edu/Common/PDF/Magazine/CurrentMagazine.pdf (see pages 14-16)
      http://springwatercommunity.org/
      I love you, my good brother!
      Don’t be a stranger — either here at The Long War or here at Casa de Stewart!

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