A Helping Hand in the New Year

On the eve of the new year facing England was the threat of World War II King George VI in his address to the nation quoted Minnie Louise Haskins: “I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’”

The Lord wants to meet you at the gate of this new year in order to guide, govern, and guard you all through it. That will make it a happy new year regardless of circumstances.

This is an appeal on behalf of our loving Lord who stands with hand outstretched for you to put your hand in His and let Him guide you into the unknown. He sees around the curve in life’s road and offers guiding help.

Twelve months ago another new year was set before you. It has rolled into eternity and carried with it broken hearts, shattered dreams, personal losses, and unanticipated anguish. It is as much ancient history as 1492. It is too late to win victories where there were losses, to unsay unkind words, to show strength instead of weakness, and to be loyal to the Lord in times you compromise.

However, here it is another new year. New Year’s Day is God’s way of saying, “OK now, we are going to keep doing this over until we get it right.”

There is something new and fresh about the inaugural days of another year. It is a time to review and resolve. May the dawning of 2025 find you having given 2024 your best. Every challenge awaiting you is an opportunity for excellence.

The words of Longfellow challenge us as we face a new year: “Look not mournfully into the past; it comes not back again. Wisely improve on the present; it is yours. Go forth to meet the shadowy future without fear and with a manly heart.”

That can only be done with the Lord as guide.

The dawning of a new year causes most of us to think about our habits; good and bad.

We first make a habit and then the habit makes us.

The principal character in Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World, said, “I will make good habits and become their slave.”

The choice is yours. We are creatures of habit. You can either be a slave to good or bad habits.

Make good habits; they are as difficult to break as bad ones.

Make habit number one the submission to the Lord and all other habits will be governed by that superior habit. Habitually, daily, submit to Him as your Lord.

In death John Wesley said, “The best of all is God is with us.” 

With hellish forces unleashed in our society and predictions of unprecedented problems and perplexities, we need a prophetic word of encouragement and our Lord has not left us without it. The Prophet Isaiah spoke to the people of his day words applicable to us.

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41: 10).

Bumps and Potholes Ahead

“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace”  Numbers 6: 24 – 26.

That is my prayer for those of you who read this.

May our loving Lord be gracious to you in this new year. That is His nature so you can resolutely depend on it.

May He give you peace. Keep in mind you can’t have the peace of God until you have peace with God. In the dawning of a new year determine you have established peace with God on His terms. That is, you trust Him to the extent that you commit your life to Him and dedicate your life for His use. Once you have established this peace with God comes the salvation’s flood of the peace of God.

In his biography, While I’m On My Feet, Dr. Gerald Kennedy notes that “We can assume only two positions in the presence of God. One is on our knees, saying,‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’; the other on our feet, saying, ‘Here am I! Use me.’” When you do you will find His face shining on you. That is a metaphor referring to Him blessing you. The result is peace with and the peace of God.

A reporter interviewing the renown General Norman Schwarzkopf spoke of the general’s background of having been in the middle east as a child with his dad. The reporter asked if he thought he had been prepared to lead the allied forces in the Persian Gulf War. Modestly he replied, “I wouldn’t claim to be chosen by the Lord. I’d just say that somewhere along the way, His hand was working. I think part of being used by God is just the willingness to be used, to say, ‘Here I am; use me.’” He got that right. It is a worthy response for each of us to make today.

With peace established with God you can face each day confidently. In his book Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan’s character Christian is depicted as seeing two threatening lions near the road on which he was traveling. He equivocated and contemplated returning from where he had come. He didn’t. As he got nearer the lions Christian saw chains about their necks. The lions could get near the road but could not reach travelers on the road. The teaching of God’s Word is, “Fear not! March on!”

You can expect bumps and potholes in your road through 2024. You can also expect God’s peace and a way through them. Fear not. He will make a way through. It is imperative that He be followed. If you follow Him you will find He will be gracious to you.

It is to that end I pray, “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace”

Demons, Demons, Demons

Demons do exist, but often are not recognized as such. Before reading further consider this.

There is demon obsession. These are people who become obsessed with the very idea of demons. Their imagination runs wild and they become overly involved reading, thinking, and talking about demons.

There is rare oppression. Demons rarely work to oppress a person. When this happens they can be delivered by the Lord.

There is demon possession, the rarest form of demon activity. By the power of the blood of Jesus such a person can be delivered with the aid of a trained mature agent of the Lord.

Supernatural forces often masquerade as angels of light. Their disguise is so effective that people do not recognize them for what they are.

The Bible speaks of them deceiving even “the elect,” that is, Christians. A deceived Christian acts little differently from a devout Christian. A legitimate question is, in what ways is this done? How do they mislead people?

1.  They give “wisdom” that is contrary to the wisdom of God. “This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic” (James 3: 15).

2.  They work to control the lives of people. There are individuals who assert they don’t want to establish a close relationship with Christ because they want their freedom. Supernatural power is often at work in them. “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:1, 2).

3. They afflict some people with sickness. Not all sickness is of such origin. Too many dear Christians who suffer frustration because they have heard that Satan causes sickness. He does some. Some believers go through prolonged repentance hoping it will cure them. Ask God once to forgive your sins. Once this is done it is achieved. If the sickness continues it is not of supernatural origin and should be addressed medically.   

Some, NOT ALL, sickness is caused by demonic forces. Jesus related to such a woman: “So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound; think of it; for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” (Luke 13:16) Don’t become obsessed or oppressed thinking on the subject.

4. According to II Peter 2: 1, Satan dispenses error among people and seeks to reduce believer’s effectiveness. This text speaks of false prophets. If you were going to make a counterfeit $20.00 bill, what would you make it look like? If you were Satan and were going to create an effective false prophet, what would you make him or her like? The nearer the resemblance, the more effective the deception and the more destructive the work.

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Hebrews 9: 24 – 28                             

Jesus believed in the devil, demons, and evil spirits. Do you?

The outcome of Christ’s encounters with demonic powers is summed up in Colossians 2: 15, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” There is victory in Jesus.

In America today there is a celebration of the spiritual underworld lifestyle called Halloween. That holiday isn’t what it was when many of us adults were children, and it isn’t what it was long before that.

Fear sells. A recent survey among teens showed more of them know who Freddy Kruger is than Abraham Lincoln.

What a couple of decades ago was a fun filled night of collecting goodies has changed. Today more personal property is destroyed on this day than any. Costly vandalism reaches a peak on this night. Razor blades and needles are buried in fruit. Hallucinogens are put in candy. It is not simply the scary night it used to be. It is now a frightening night.

The word Halloween comes from the event called “All Hallows Eve.” It is now the evening before All Saints Day.

Even before the time of Jesus, the ancient Druids had a holiday honoring their lord of the dead, Samhain. It was on the last day of October, the Celtic new year.

Druids believed that on this night Samhain called forth the souls of all who had died during the last twelve months and had during the time following their death been inhabiting animal bodies. These spirits returned to their former homes where the occupants were to treat them by providing food and entertainment for them. If it wasn’t acceptable, these spirits played tricks on the residents. From this emerged our Trick or Treat.

Legend says a man named Jack tricked the devil into not bothering him during his life. At death, Jack was denied both heaven and hell. He groped his way through the dark by carrying a glowing coal in a carved out turnip. From this came our Jack-o-lantern.

Halloween is one of the highest and holiest days of the occult year. Though witchcraft and Satanism are separate, both celebrate this day.

Children should be taught it is at best a fun day, not a fright day. Remove the supernatural fear factor from the celebration. It is a good occasion to focus on the fact “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1: 7).

The Roots of War

Having visited Israel 44 times and four Arab countries. I have friends there about whom I am concerned. Last Saturday I talked with two of them. One is a delightful lady who lives in Jerusalem. Jokingly she said there is a lot of talk about the Iron Dome Israel has. However, persons living in Jerusalem have a better dome of protection, the Dome of the Rock. No terrorist would dare to fire a rocket near it.

The other friend is a Christian Palestinian from Beit Jala, a tiny village near Bethlehem. I have a number of friends in Israel of both extractions and love them all.

Both I talked with expressed concern for all innocent people on both sides and requested prayer.

Within the borders of Israel lives a complex citizenry. Consider just two classifications: Jews and Arabs. A Racial Jew can be a religious Jew or a racial Jew who is a Christian. An Arab can be a Palestinian who is a religious Muslim or Christian. That is an oversimplification of life in Israel.

What Israel is doing is an effort to prevent it happening to themselves. It is stated in the Hamas Covenant: “Israel exists and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.”

Article eight of the Covenant serves as a slogan for Hamas, “Jihad is its path.” Further resolve is contained in the Covenant: “Initiatives, proposals, international conferences, are all a waste of time, and vain effort.”

“Obliterate” is the operative word. Consider this historical root of the war.

During the 1967 Arab–Israeli Six Day War Israel conquered territory occupied by the Arabs. Our former General Patton got it right when he said, “War is Hell.” In this war, as with all, neither side is perfectly innocent, only one side is right. Part of what Israel did was indeed bad. We first visited Israel shortly after the war and had people tell us of some of the things Israel did in the war. They followed by saying often before the outbreak they heard Arabs talking on the street about what they were going to do to the Jews when they defeated them. In light of that they conceded things would have been much worse if the Arabs had won.

Displaced Palestinians fled territory conquered by the Jews and went into Jordan, taking much of their war machinery with them. An intolerable conflict between them and the Jordanians broke out with Jordan driving them out into South Lebanon where they developed into Hezbollah. Today’s Hezbollah fighters are embittered children and grandchildren of persons displaced by the Six Day War. They have never conceded that to the victor goes the spoils.

With Hezbollah now poised in Lebanon on the border with Israel there is a need for prayer. Little known is the fact many Hezbollah fighters fought against American forces in Afghanistan. They are battle hardened. When America pulled out of Afghanistan they went home taking unimaginable amounts of American war equipment with them into Lebanon. This has greatly strengthened Hezbollah.

Here in our community, America, all of the racial complexities noted above exist. Americans in general have long been pro-Israel. Those anti-Semites opposing such a view need to understand and accept the fact. In America we need to love one another and pray especially for the innocent Palestinians. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” Psalm 50: 15. Glorify Him.