Good morning, and a most blessed Thursday to you.
I cannot believe we're already at the end in our last devotion for this year. In our last devotion of 2022 together I want to talk with you about two things.
The first being the “Fresh Start Effect”, and the second being “prayer”. What is the connection between these two? Let me explain.
The fresh start effect is something that behavioral psychologists have studied, and continue to research. It's this really interesting phenomenon within the human experience, that any sort of special occasion or temporal landmark (like the start of a new week, a new month, a new year) causes people to reflect, to think “big picture” and to make goals to put into action; ways that we as humans want to grow or change.
So we're looking at 2023. And we have a new fresh start in front of us, where we have an entire year that we can take up a new hobby, learn a new language, get a new health routine going. There's also the opportunity that we have to grow in our life of faith, and to grow in our relationship with the Lord.
This brings us to the topic of “prayer”. We know that the way to the Lord, the way to the Father has already been opened through Jesus Christ. When he died on the cross he dealt with that barrier of our sin, that causes us to be separated from the Father. Jesus took upon himself the punishment for our sins, and opened the way to the Father for all of us. We have an open invitation to gathered in to the arms of the Father and talk to Him, knowing that he will hear us, and love us, and fellowship with us. So that's taken care of. 2023 should not be marked with striving to earn our way into heaven. That's not what we're talking about. But how can we grow? How can we come to know the Lord better? How can we grow in our relationship that we have with the Lord?
Of course we have so many opportunities at Living Word. We have the small groups. We have Bible studies; whether it's the ladies in faith together Bible studies, or the men's Bible studies. We have fellowship groups. We have adult education. We have Sunday school for the youth… something for everyone from three years old to however old we are on this side of heaven. We have opportunity to grow and learn. We have many opportunities for growth. But we also have the opportunity every single day in our own lives to continue to grow in the relationship that we have with God. We have the opportunity every single day to personally engage with him in His Word, and opportunity every single day to engage with him in prayer. And that's where we come to the devotional reading that I had this morning that is just spectacular. This was written by a man named Sadhu Sundar Singh. He lived during the late 19th and early 20th century. He wrote: “In a certain desert, where there was no sign of water, there was a tree with green leaves bearing fruit. The reason was that the long roots of the tree found a secret spring of water deep under the ground, and thus was nourished by it. Prayer is the hidden root which goes to the hidden spring, which is God. Through prayer we received life from God, and strength to bear fruit.”
As you are reflecting on 2022, and looking towards 2023… in these next couple of days as you are figuring out how you are going to grow, or how you can grow closer to the Lord in 2023; think about prayer. Think about your prayer life, and how prayer connects us so deeply to the Lord. When we read His Word; when we pray His Word we are growing and connecting closer and closer to the Lord. And it is that close relationship in which the Holy Spirit draws us, molds and shapes us, and grows us closer to himself; so that we would bear more and more fruit.
It's just amazing what the Lord does in our lives and through our lives for his kingdom. So in these last couple of day of 2023, consider how you would like to grow closer to the Lord in 2023. I encourage you to begin of course with prayer… prayer to the Father, praying in the Spirit through the Son… praying God's own Words back to him, allowing Him to shape and mold you into His image.
Let us turn to him now in prayer together.
Lord, we thank you so much that we are able to come to you always through your Word and through prayer. Lord, we thank you that you have secured for us the way to you, that you have secured for us the way to grow in faith, and the way to grow in spirit through you and by you. Lord, we ask that has we end this year, that we would take the time to look towards the new year of 2023, and how you would use us… how you would grow us… and how you would shape us by your Word and through your Spirit. Lord, we ask that you would keep us open to where you are leading us, and to whom you have called for us to share your Word. We thank you for the many blessings during 2022, and we look forward to the many blessings that you have in store for us in this next. Lord, lead us, guide us, and keep us always in your Spirit. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Have a wonderful rest of the year. I look forward to worshiping with you on January 1st at 10 a.m. at Living Word Lutheran Church, the first worship service of the year. I cannot wait.