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Rom. 10:13-15 says, “For “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”
Notice the words in v.15, “Good news of good things.”
I looked at what the Associated Press said were their top stories of 2014. There were some items that people will consider good news while most people will consider it all bad. Here are the top news stories of 2014 according to AP.
- POLICE KILLINGS: Some witnesses said 18-year-old Michael Brown had his hands up in surrender, others said he was making a charge. But there was no dispute he was unarmed and shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson. In New York City, another unarmed black, Eric Garner, was killed after a white officer put him in a chokehold during an arrest for unauthorized cigarette sales. After grand juries opted not to indict the officers, protests erupted across the country, punctuated by chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe.” In both cases, federal officials launched investigations.
- EBOLA OUTBREAK: The first wave of Ebola deaths, early in the year, attracted little notice. By March, the World Health Organization was monitoring the outbreak. By midsummer, it was the worst Ebola epidemic on record with a death toll now approaching 7000, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. A Liberian man with the disease died at a Dallas hospital, followed by a few other cases involving U.S. health workers, sparking worries about the readiness of the U.S. health system.
- ISLAMIC STATE: Militant fighters from the Islamic State group startled the world with rapid, brutal seizures of territory in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. and its allies responded with air strikes, hoping that Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground could retake captured areas. Revulsion toward Islamic State intensified as it broadcast videos of its beheadings of several Western hostages.
- US ELECTIONS: For months, political oddsmakers sought to calculate if Republicans had a chance to gain control of the U.S. Senate. It turned out there was no suspense, the GOP won 54 of the Senate’s 100 seats, expanded its already strong majority in the House of Representatives, and gained at the state level, where Republicans now hold 31 governorships.
- OBAMACARE: Millions more Americans signed up to be covered under President Obama’s health care initiative, but controversy about “Obamacare” raged on. Criticism from Republicans in Congress was relentless, many GOP governed states balked at participation, and opinion polls suggested most Americans remained skeptical about the program.
- MALAYSIA AIRLINES MYSTERY: En route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board. In the weeks that followed, aircraft, ships and searchers from two-dozen countries mobilized to look in vain for the wreckage on the Indian Ocean floor. To date, there’s no consensus as to why the plane vanished.
- IMMIGRATION: Frustrated by an impasse in Congress, President Obama took executive actions in November to curb deportations for many immigrants residing in the U.S. illegally. GOP leaders in the House and Senate pledged efforts to block the president’s moves. Prospects for reform legislation were dimmed earlier in the year by the influx of unaccompanied Central American minors arriving at the U.S. border, causing shelter overloads and case backlogs.
- TURMOIL IN UKRAINE: A sometimes bloody revolt that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych in February triggered a chain of events that continued to roil Ukraine as the year drew to a close. Russia, worried that Ukraine would tilt increasingly toward the West, annexed the Crimean peninsula in March and backed an armed separatist insurgency in coal-rich eastern regions of Ukraine. The U.S. and its allies responded with sanctions against Russia.
- GAY MARRIAGE: Due to a wave of federal court rulings, 19 more U.S. states began allowing same-sex marriages, raising the total to 35 states encompassing about 64 percent of the population. Given that one U.S. court of appeals bucked the trend by upholding state bans on gay marriage, there was widespread expectation that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue and make a national ruling.
- VA SCANDAL: The Department of Veterans Affairs became embroiled in a nationwide scandal over allegations of misconduct and cover-ups. Several senior officials were fired or forced to resign, including VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. At the heart of the scandal was the VA hospital in Phoenix; allegations surfaced that 40 veterans died while awaiting treatment there.
Those are just the top stories and there was little good news. That’s the problem, we thrive on bad news. As Christians, we’ve got the news that is always good. It’s good that Jesus came to earth, lived a sinless life, and shed His blood on the cross at Calvary. It’s good Jesus died, but three days later conquered death and rose from the grave and was seen by the multitudes. It’s good that Jesus ascended to heaven where He sits at the rights hand of the Father making intercession for us.
Jesus said, “Because I live, you shall live also.” As we think about the New Year, there’s going to be negative things or bad news that will be recognized at the end of the year. As Christians, let’s not focus on the bad or negative, let’s focus on the positive. Good news should be what God’s people think about. When we get to the end of next year I am sure there will be several things as we look back in reflection that we can truly say were, “good news of good things.” As I look forward to the coming year, I think of several things that I would like to have take place. I’d like to see people truly give their life to Christ and follow Him. It’s clear that this is what God wants:
1 Tim. 2:4 says, “Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” God made a way through Christ.
2 Cor. 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Jo. 6:37 says, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”
“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9)
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jo. 3:16)
We have been justified in Christ: we are declared righteous based on the merits of Jesus. We have been sanctified: Christ’s righteousness is applied to each of us every single day. It’s our responsibility to make sure that everyone knows they’re welcome at the foot of the cross.You don’t have to be a certain way to get Christ, come as you are. Everyone can and should come as they are, but no one should expect you stay that way.
The attitude in America is being reflected in the church. We have seen the expectation of transformation reduced to simple profession. That’s not the expectation of Christ. Rom. 6:4-7 says, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” We must truly make disciples and allow ourselves to be discipled. I continue to be amazed at the people that seek my guidance and totally disregard the truth of Scripture when it’s presented to them.
I’d like to see God’s people passionate about ministry. Is. 44:22 says, “I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” We need to turn back and follow Scripture. Why? We have a tendency to rewrite what we don’t ignore God. The fundamental principles of godliness and holiness have been replaced by catch phrases. Deep spiritual truths preached from the pulpits of America have been replaced by short, empty messages from high energy dynamic speakers. We’ve reduced the perfect Word of God to catch phrases. We want to be entertained by the man in the pulpit rather than be transformed by the message from the man. We think if we post Scripture on Facebook or talk about what a great prayer warrior you are, church participation is not necessary. I think there is more damage done for the cause of Christ by people who say they’re Christians, but have no supporting evidence in their lives. I think we’re buying the lie that a Christian can live in the world and participate in all of its trappings and not be affected. In John 17:16, Jesus said that we are not of this world. We know we’re physically present here, but we’re not supposed to be spiritually present. We’re supposed to be set apart. If you keep reading in John, Jesus says to God: “Sanctify them in truth; Your word is truth.”
I think we’ve also fallen into the trap of idolatry. God becomes this great provider in the sky rather than the One who is worthy of our worship. We are looking for God to serve us rather than for us to serve Him. To put anything above the Lord is foolish, but we do it all the time. I think few people would admit that they do this, but our actions speak louder than our words. I’d like to see people get more involved in the opportunities we have here. We have become impatient which further separates us from God. Fewer and fewer people are willing to work hard. Fewer and fewer people make themselves available to do the hard, stressful, and emotionally draining work of the ministry. Fewer and fewer people are willing to persevere. More and more people say no to serving in the church. What have you said yes to?
I’d like to see people really make connections with others. There are people very casual about participation in the things of the church. We have people that miss one, two, three, four weeks and no one seems to notice and if they do notice, nothing comes of it. I’d like to see people participate in intentional ministry.
I’d like to see God’s people recognize and resist Satan. He’s the source of all the schemes of the world. James says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (Ja. 4:7) We must first submit ourselves to God. Then we can stand against Satan in the strength and might of the Lord Himself. Satan is a destroyer. He will try to destroy your home, your relationships, your testimony, your desire, your devotion, and all the principles that are expected of us as Christians. Don’t fall into the trap. Satan’s way is never good, but unfortunately, even Christians are sometimes too ignorant to recognize this.
I’d like to see Jesus come back in 2015. Phil. 3:20 says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus promised in John 14:3, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” We’re too attached to this temporary home. We work to have things that will pass away. We spend the majority of our time on things that have no bearing on eternity.
What do you want to hear and see by the end of next year? How many will you share Christ with? How will you serve the Lord by serving others? Will you live the life of holiness God has called you to live? How authentic will you be?