With the start of the new year, Christian leaders have released messages in hopes of helping believers of Jesus have a meaningful and purposeful 2018.
While many people tend to make resolutions focused on physical health and success, Christian leaders, including InterVarsity USA President Tom Lin, are pointing to spiritual goals. "As many around the world place hope in what 2018 will bring - resolutions that promise health, healing, prosperity, or cures for our broken world - let's firmly place our hope in Christ and Christ alone," Lin tweeted.
Here are six more New Year's messages from megachurch pastors, including Kerry Shook and Greg Laurie, and other influential leaders, such as John Piper and Sheila Walsh.
1. Kerry Shook, senior pastor of Woodlands Church in Texas
When did you first learn about Christ? Was it from a friend? At church? At home? When did God become more than just a word to you? When did faith become a personal relationship, and not just a religion, for you? It's good to take a look back and remember.
Remember the passion you felt for God – the feeling of relief from the burden of sin, guilt, and shame, the unspeakable joy, the peace and confidence of knowing that you were forgiven and accepted by God! Temptation seemed to have lost its grip and you felt free! Nothing else mattered as Jesus took first place in your life. It was euphoric; for some perhaps, even sensational! For others, the feelings may not have been as ecstatic, but the reality was the same. God did a work of grace, and His grace was not without effect. You were changed, born again! Old things passed away, and all things became new! You had a new outlook on life. Hope replaced despair!
Just looking back for a moment causes gratitude to rise. He chose me! He chose you! Before you set your gaze on the year ahead, glance back. Consider what God has done and give Him thanks. How did He work in your life in 2017? What prayers did He answer? In what ways have you grown spiritually?
Original post at kerryshook.org
2. Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California
Instead of merely focusing on weight loss and exercise (there is a place for that), let's focus primarily on our relationship with God in this coming year.
Is it really possible to change—to be a "new you" this year?
The answer is yes, people can change.
Scripture teaches that if we want to change, there is our part and there is God's part. A classic verse that pulls those together in found in Philippians 2:13–14, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."
The idea of "working out one's salvation" is referring to living out one's faith—carrying it out correctly.
The verb "work out" carries the meaning of "work to full completion." There is work involved in living the Christian life, as well as warfare and discipline.
These are not words we necessarily want to hear, but if you want to get in good shape, you "work out," not "sit out." The Christian life is not an easy one.
It is not a playground, but a battleground.
Original post at harvest.org
3. John Piper, founder of desiringgod.org
Why do we care about daily Bible reading in the new year anyway?
I think the ultimate goal of every Christian should be to glorify God in your life every day — or, to use the words of Philippians 1:20, to magnify Christ in your body, whether you live or whether you die. We exist ultimately on this planet to make God in Christ look magnificent — to make him look precious and valuable, to look like the supreme treasure that he is. That's the goal of life: make God look like a treasure.
Now, how do we go about that since, in our sin, even as believers, there's so much in us that is inclined to think or feel or act in ways that don't make Christ look great? The answer to how we do this is that we have to see the glory of Christ. To see him as glorious, to see the magnificence and the value and the beauty and the greatness and the desirableness of Christ, we have to see him for what he's really like.
You can't savor what you don't see. You can't cherish and desire and love and enjoy and treasure what you're not aware of. If we don't desire and cherish and enjoy and savor and treasure Christ, we will not commend him as magnificent in what we feel and say and do. Christ is most magnified in us when we are most satisfied in him, and we cannot be daily satisfied in the depths of our soul in Christ if we don't see him and savor him. My point is that that can only happen by a steady meditation on the word of God in the Bible.
Original post at desiringgod.org
4. Sheila Walsh, author who has been a featured speaker at Women of Faith events
Fall forward. I want you to hear them today as your Heavenly Father is saying to you "Trust me, I'm right here, fall forward and I'll catch you."
These words are a clear call to a life of surrender, trusting that God's arms are wide open, waiting for us to fall into them. Start your new year by surrendering to your Father.
Original post at Sheila Walsh's Facebook page
5. Brian Houston, senior pastor of Hillsong Church
Day one of a seven-day devotional
Where do I start?
Take your everyday, ordinary life your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (MSG)
The very first step toward change is to believe that you can. You don't have to stay the way you are because God is a God of change and transformation. He can bring change to your life and bring the best out of you.
Original post at brianchouston.com
6. James Dobson, founder of Family Talk
Successful family life is difficult to achieve. It is never perfect and is often problematic. You have your own set of challenges as you seek to meet the needs of your children. The last thing I want to do is add to your pressures or sense of frustration. Nevertheless, if there is any way you can give priority to your children amid those limitations, even if it requires serious sacrifice, you will not regret giving it to them.
This might mean staying married when your impulse is to divorce. It could cause you to make choices that will handicap you professionally. It might mean financial hardship for the family because Mom is staying at home with her children. It might mean giving up your four-hour golf outing every Saturday. What I am saying is that from where I sit today, children are worth everything they cost us.
Original post at drjamesdobson.org