From the Preacher’s Pen ~

The year 2015 is nearly over. Before this week is over we will have a party celebrating the end of this year and the beginning of a new year. (More about that party inside.)

As with all endings there is always the promise of a new beginning. So let’s consider that thought in light of our yearlong journey through the Bible and remember a bit of where we have been with God and His story:

End or Beginning?

It seems appropriate that our final book study of the year is 2 Timothy since it signals the end of Paul’s story.

And yet we all know that that is not really true! The Apostle Paul continued his ministry throughout the ages because of what he had accomplished. He is remembered and studied today by Christians as the inspired writer of much of the New Testament. His work goes on!

Isn’t that really the message that God has been trying to get across to us since the beginning of His word? We were not created to die!

God actually created human beings to be a reflection, an image of Him. Genesis clearly reminds us that eternal life for us with God was the plan, God’s intention all along.

Of course it all went wrong when sin entered the world. As soon as humans chose to walk with and listen to someone other than the Lord God… death came into existence. Can we really imagine the horror of Adam and Eve when God presented them animal skin clothing to help cover their sin?

That ending was soon replaced with at least a measure of joy in the beginning of new life. With sons born to Adam and Eve it was a renewal of hope. A new beginning that would soon be dashed by murder. Have you ever wondered how many times Adam and Eve thought, “IF ONLY…”

As the Old Testament narrative continues we see how often the story repeats itself. Even as Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt and introduced them to God’s new plan for them, there was the solemn reminder to remain faithful and teach each new generation lest they forget and bring an end of all God’s blessings.

Unfortunately, it was a warning that they did not take seriously! The books of Judges through 2 Kings remind us of the alarming frequency with which new generations caused their own calamitous end. And yet God was always there to offer the new beginning, the new hope to a people who would listen and obey.

As God tried His best to get His children to listen to and obey Him, one of the most horrible comments is made about their response: “but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, until there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:16).

Even with the final, terrible ending of the nation of Israel, even with the brutal destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple and almost ending of Judah there was still hope. God brought His people back from captivity to give them another chance, another beginning.

Of course the ultimate plan of God was for a new beginning for all people in Christ. Isn’t it shocking to realize that instead of grateful appreciation, Jesus was “welcomed” with hatred and death? For a moment in time it would seem that even God’s ultimate new beginning had been foolishly rejected and turned into another end.

Fortunately for us, three days after His death, Jesus rose from the grave to never die again. More than that He showed us that death and endings could forever be defeated, destroyed so completely that God’s people could return to the original plan: living forever with God!

So, how do we respond to such a great and loving God? Do we choose to follow and obey Him?

We could, of course, reject Him and hold out hope for another way, another beginning, one more chance. But the Hebrew writer (along with several other NT writers) clearly says that there is not another way: “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,” (Hebrews 10:26)

Clearly with all our reminders of endings leading to new beginnings it is time for us to realize that with God our opportunities are winding down. Yes, the end really is in sight. If you want your life story to continue into an eternal walk with God the time to begin is now!

Let’s make our New Year our best year ever of faithful obedience to our Lord and Savior!

— Lester P. Bagley