Monday 2 January 2023


Deuteronomy 11 v 8/18 ; Hebrews 10 v 19/25


On Sunday, we began a New Year an appropriate day to begin on. This enables the Church to start to face the giant task of bringing people to, and back to, the practice of worshipping God, and by his grace to become followers of Jesus Christ.

     We have just celebrated the birth of Jesus, and many people enjoyed themselves by taking advantage of the event, by attending services after absences. Now we must seriously commit ourselves to make the Church a significant factor in lives.

A New Year always provides for a new beginning, and as we look back, we can reflect on the failures as well as the successes.

In the Old Testament Lesson, the people of Israel were facing a new beginning.  They had failed God by not obeying and trusting him, so they spent forty years in the wilderness.  Now as they stand on the banks of the Jordan, ready to cross into the land God had promised to give to them, their leader Moses speaks to them words of encouragement, and telling them to place trust in God. Such a message is relevant to us today.

Anyone who has gone out on a journey knows when you reach a certain point, it is that of no return; you have gone so far you just have to continue, the past behind you.  

We face the challenge of a new year, one in which only God knows what the future holds.  We need to heed the words of Moses to trust in God to bless us.

The Israelites were told to possess the land.  God was giving them a homeland, which many want to take away from them now, some by blowing them up by explosives. Just as God provided for Israel, he is prepared to provide now for all who are ready to obey his commands and trust him. There are many blessings offered to us, but we have to take possession of them.

Jesus said, ‘I have come that you may have life and have it to the full’.  Paul said, ‘eye has not seen nor ear heard the things which God has prepared for those who love him’.

In our society so much can come so easily that God does not figure in many people’s lives, they think of him as an irrelevance having no part to play in their lives.

If you ask a lot of young people how we get our food, they will say something like Tesco; there is no understanding of the part God plays. They have never heard the words, ‘give us this day our daily bread’.

God gave Israel a land of milk and honey, providing for all their needs after they had suffered so much in Egypt where water was scarce where the Nile is the only river, and it is a barren land largely.

People who live without Christ in their lives, resemble a barren land.  They live without him who said that those who trusted in him would never be thirsty, but would be given living water.

God was offering a land of mountains and valleys. Life for all of us is a tortuous road, with its twists and turns, its hills and valleys.  There will be times when all is going well, and we feel we have reached a mountain peak, but there will be times when we feel we are in a deep valley as things have been so hard.

Life can become difficult. We may feel we are of little significance in the scheme of things, and as we look back on our life, we think if only I had done this or that, what difference.

If you feel depression is setting in; remember God does not expect you to be any different, recall the words in verse 12, ‘the eyes of the Lord are upon you from the beginning to the end’.

A study of the Bible shows God often uses little people to do mighty things; he chose a young Jewish village girl to be the Saviour of the World.  None of the Apostles had a degree, and if applying for Christian ministry today would probably be rejected.

The new year brings a new opportunity. As we move forward, God’s eyes will be upon us, looking after us from beginning until the end of the year, if we put our trust in him. But if we are to receive the full blessing of God’s provision, we must remember the importance of loving God, and obeying his will which he has given us in the Bible.

The New Testament reading calls on us to draw near to God, to let him be in control of your life, and not to be someone you call upon when you are in trouble.

There is also the command to be present at worship, not giving up as so many want to do.  There are cynical voices trying to turn people away from God. We find scorn on television as the messengers of secularism are so prominent in those circles, and slide in anti-Christian thoughts in entertainment programmes.  Now we have the political parties of all persuasions, which support conduct and actions contrary to traditional Bible teaching, and then create laws which place State law against God’s law.

We are living in an increasing anti-Christian environment, with so called Equality and Diversity laws making it hard for Christians to express themselves, as public servants strive to find ways of excluding Christian expression.  It would be more accurate to call it the Inequality and Diversity law, as some are allowed to be more equal and diverse than others.

We live in two worlds.  We live in the earthly world, but we also live in the world of the Spirit, and there is always the danger we can forget about God and become so involved in earthly activities.  

As members of a human family we like to meet with brothers and sisters in our parents’ home and as members of a Church family we welcome the chance to meet with our Christian brothers and sisters. 

A Church family is unique in that it consists of different ages, backgrounds, experiences and sexes.  It is where God provides for us to be come equipped to carry out His message to the world.  We sing praise together, pray for each other and for the worlds needs share bread and wine in Holy Communion and remember what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. 

Coming to Church should be like sons and daughters coming to meet with their (heavenly) Father in complete harmony.  My sons regularly visit my wife and self, and I would be very concerned if they did not.  Our heavenly Father is also upset when His children neglect Him. 

The Bible says, ‘let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another’.  

We need to meet with others to have fellowship, to gain and give encouragement.  Each of us has to make an effort.  Most people believe in God and many have a respect for the Church, but that is as far as it goes.  They don’t want God or the Church to intrude into their lives, unless of course they want a baptism or wedding and then both can become useful. 

We need corporate fellowship, so neglecting to meet in Church with brothers and sisters in Christ is a serious weakness. 

It can be so easy to just give up and go with the flow, especially as Church leaders side with the State.  This is why the Bible urges Christians to be together and contend for the faith. We join in prayer together and encourage one another; it is God’s way of providing for his people to be fully equipped for his service.  

We need to learn from preaching of his Word, provided that such teaching is consistent and faithful to the Bible.  This can be a problem when preachers challenge Scripture.

But there is one thing I feel needs to be stressed.  We should ensure the Church we attend is one faithful to God’s Word, and seeks to build each other up through the Scriptures, and where the true gospel is preached.

We have to acknowledge however sadly this is not always the case, so it serves no purpose going to a Church which fails to do these things

.  Too many preachers have their own agenda, which is created around a morality not supported by Scripture, and where the teaching is given to subscribe to the culture of the day. 

You must find a Bible based Church.  Research in America has shown that going to Church, and meeting with fellow believers is good for your health.  A survey of 4,000 people, found that older people especially who attended Church, were less depressed and far healthier that their non-religious counterparts. 

But just believing in God’s existence is not enough we have to draw near to Him, and the only way is through Jesus Christ.  There is one way, one Saviour, one way to eternal life. 

Jesus is described in the Bible as the great High priest of God.  The function of a priest is to be a bridge between God and man, so that we can come into God’s presence, and Jesus makes that possible.  Jesus can take us into the very presence of His Father. 

There are many, far too many people in recent times, who have forsaken Church, and it can be so very easy to give up, go with the flow and fall away.  Once this is done, it is often hard to get back into the practice of coming to Church.  This is why the Bible urges the need for Christians to be with each other. 

There are numerous reasons for people giving up worship.  There are the cynical voices pouring scorn making people feel doubtful.  There are forces of secularisation, now given so much attention and credence.   There are pressures from within families where some members are anti-church, notably husbands regarding their wives.  The worry about taking a public stand, and indeed, from within the Church itself. 

We should not be tempted to separate ourselves from those who are joined to us by a common faith. Meeting and following Christ can be costly, but mostly well rewarded.  We must always be aware of the fact that in many parts of the world Churches cannot exist, nor can Christians meet with other Christians for fear of imprisonment or even death.  Increasing hostility is being displayed in countries like Egypt, Pakistan, and Nigeria, where Churches are burned down and bombed.  Here we still have freedom to worship, but if not cherished and valued, and fought for will be lost. 

Jesus expected to be given priority, and if people can find time for all other things in life but not for him, the question arises as to how important our faith, Jesus and God.

The great American evangelist, Dwight Moody, was once talking to a young man who had fallen away from Church as they sat by a coal fire. Moody knocked one of the coals from the fire into the hearth, and it soon died out.  He picked it up and put if back on the fire. and it glowed.  He said to the young man, that is how what happens when a Christian falls away from Church, they burn out. Coming to Church should be like sons and daughters visiting their father, their heavenly Father.

Having said all this, it is fair to say we should make sure we attend a Church which is faithful to God’s Word.


We have to acknowledge this is not, sadly, always the case.  I understand it comes hard when a number of preachers have to be heard, and you have a situation when liberal minded anything goes preacher. is followed by an evangelical Bible preacher. You are naturally left confused as to who to believe.

There are few people who can say all in my life is sunshine and roses. We all have some worry; health concern for the future, domestic problem, even a Church problem.  To all, Jesus says come unto me all you who are heavy laden and |I will give you rest, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  

May the wonderful truth that Jesus is deeply concerned about you, comfort you and ease your worries, and no matter what this new year may bring forth in world issues, it will be a memorable one for you; no doubt of hills and valleys, but one in which you draw near to God.


Let us therefore draw near to God. holding firmly to your belief, and never give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us always give each other encouragement.  Don’t let unpleasant people, secularists, or anyone else hold you back.  Remember too, Jesus said if anyone rejected Him, He will one day reject them. Such a fate is too horrible to consider. 


May God bless you in this new year and may his words touch your heart to give you comfort and hope   

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