Thoughts for the New Year

Happy New Year! Warm greetings to you all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Each year I take some time to think about what thoughts and ideas should be guiding me through my life and ministry. Usually that leads to a guiding verse that will help me in my decision-making, planning, prayer life, and leadership in the church. Upon further prayer and reflection, here are some of the major foci that I will have for this new year. I invite you to consider them for yourselves in 2024.

1.Passion for Christ. I want everything that I do this year to be motivated by a deep love for the Savior who first loved me. I want to see His power at work in my life. I desire to please Him in all that I do. In Philippians 3:10-11, Paul says: “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Paul’s deepest desire was love for and fellowship with the Christ who had saved him. That is my first and foremost desire for this year.

2.Purity of Heart. In Matthew 5:8, Jesus said: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” It is my desire that the Lord continue to cleanse my heart, rooting out residual sin, and revealing to me those things I’m still holding back from Him. I want the sanctifying effects of salvation to take deeper root in me. Purity of heart results in purity of life and purity of mind. May the Lord work in my heart, and in the heart of each one who claims the Name of Christ, as we seek Him and serve Him in the new year.

3.Purpose in Action. We are each given only 24 hours in a day, and we do not know how many more days the Lord will give to us. Thus, we cry out with the Psalmist in 90:12: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Proverbs 9:10 says: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” May we seek His wisdom, in reverence and humility, as we think through what we do, say, plan, hope to achieve, and desire in 2024. May we examine all of those things in light of His Kingdom purposes, so that our lives truly matter and have an impact that lasts not only for today, but unto eternity.

4.Proclamation of Truth. We are surrounded by a cacophony of lying voices, deceiving thoughts, and false teachers. Thus, we need to hear clearly the Word of God, and then be a clarion voice to a confused and sin-filled culture. We are called to proclaim the Truth and to love the Truth, because it is the Truth alone that can save, sanctify, and set free a person from evil. Jesus prayed in John 17:17: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” We are not called to tell people what they want to hear, but what they need to hear. It is only through hearing the Truth that they can know how to have a right standing before a Holy God, and know how to grow in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

5.Prayer as a Way of Life. It is true that God is Sovereign in all things. He knows all things and does all things well. Yet, in the mystery of His decree and plan, He is pleased to use us to accomplish His divine, eternal, and Kingdom purposes. Our God not only predestines the ends; He also predestines the means to those ends. One of the means to accomplishing His divine plan is the prayers of His people. Thus, Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:18 of the need to be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for the saints.” May this year be a year of growing prayer dependency on our great God and Savior. I hope that we see a renewed emphasis on prayer, not only in our private lives, but in our connection groups, in our Bible studies, and especially in our public Life as a believing community.

These five principles – Passion for Christ; Purity of Heart; Purpose in Action; Proclamation of Truth; Prayer as a way of life – are the marks of a growing and Spirit-led community. I ask you to join me in prayer so that we see these things more and more in our lives. I invite you to pray along with me that we become more and more a community that is marked by a love for the Truth, a love for Christ, and a love for one another. As I reflect on this next year, I have chosen 2 Corinthians 7:1 as the verse that I want to guide my life this year. I commend it to you as well in your walk with the Lord in 2024.

“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”

I wish you all a joyful, fruitful, faithful, Christ-centered, and Spirit-led 2024. To him be all the glory, both for now and forevermore. Amen.

Senior Pastor Gregg Hensel

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