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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year

This is from our friend Don Whitney and the Center for Biblical Spirituality. I thought it was an excellent way to begin the new year. So, with all due thanks to Don for his helpful ministry, consider the following:

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. "Consider your ways!" (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It's so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we're going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

In addition to these ten questions, here are twenty-one more to help you "Consider your ways." Think on the entire list at one sitting, or answer one question each day for a month.
11. What's the most important decision you need to make this year?

12. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what's one way you could simplify in that area?

13. What's the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?

14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?

15. Who is the person you most want to encourage this year?

16. What is your most important financial goal this year, and what is the most important step you can take toward achieving it?

17. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your work life this year?

18. What's one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?

19. What's one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?

20. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?

21. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?

22. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?

23. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?

24. What's the most important trip you want to take this year?

25. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?

26. To what need or ministry will you try to give an unprecedented amount this year?

27. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your commute this year?

28. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it?

29. If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it?

30. What's the most important new item you want to buy this year?

31. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?

The value of many of these questions is not in their profundity, but in the simple fact that they bring an issue or commitment into focus. For example, just by articulating which person you most want to encourage this year is more likely to help you remember to encourage that person than if you hadn't considered the question.

If you've found these questions helpful, you might want to put them someplace—in a day planner, PDA, calendar, bulletin board, etc.—where you can review them more frequently than once a year.

So let's evaluate our lives, make plans and goals, and live this new year with biblical diligence, remembering that, "The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage" (Proverbs 21:5). But in all things let's also remember our dependence on our King who said, "Apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

Copyright © 2003 Donald S. Whitney.

Copyright Disclaimer: All the information contained on the Center for Biblical Spirituality website is copyrighted by Donald S. Whitney. Permission granted to copy this material in its complete text only for not-for-profit use (sharing with a friend, church, school, Bible study, etc.) and including all copyright information. No portion of this website may be sold, distributed, published, edited, altered, changed, broadcast, or commercially exploited without the prior written permission from Donald S. Whitney.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Missions and the Blessing of God

“God be gracious to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us that Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations.”
Psalm 67: 1-2

Psalm 67 is about missions! That's why we've named our missions organization at Rockport Baptist Church the Psalm 67 Missions Network. It is a cry for God’s blessing. But unlike so many who cry for God to bless them, the Psalmist is not thinking only of himself He has a much greater goal in mind. He prays that God would bless us and be with us, not so we can be blessed, but so that through us the nations might hear and know and worship God as He deserves to be known and worshiped!

This has always been the motive behind the saint’s desire for the blessing of God. God does not bless us so we can hoard the blessing to ourselves. He blesses us that we might be a link in the chain of events He ordains to bring the blessing of Christ out to others through the preaching of the Gospel.

What was it He said to Abraham when he called him to follow by faith? He said, “I will bless you and you will be a blessing and all nations on earth will be blessed through you!” (Gen 12:3) Think of it! God doesn’t bless us so we can look in the mirror and say, “Wow, isn’t it great to be blessed?” God blesses us so that other nations and people we’ve never met might be blessed through us! How? By hearing and responding to the Gospel of Christ that we preach and that we send out to the world through missions!

That’s why I like to say that Psalm 67 is a missionary Psalm! It’s a call for us to realize what God is doing in our lives. All His blessing, all of the advantages we have enjoyed as Americans – are for the purpose of making His glory known and enabling us to carry His Good News to the ends of the earth so that “all the peoples” and “all the nations” may hear and be glad in Him!

May God enable us to orient our lives and our church to that holy and joy-filled calling until we find ourselves in that great worshiping throng from every nation, tribe and tongue who bask forever in His glory!

Pastor Scott Lee

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Show Hospitality to Stangers

Dear Rockport Family,

Hebrews 13:2 says, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." As we enter the Christmas season, I want to remind you to practice hospitality to the new members and guests we are seeing each week. When we were smaller, it was easier to identify someone who was new, since you pretty much knew everybody. But now, many of you don't know everyone who attends each week...and it becomes easy to overlook those who are here for the first, second or third time.

So, here's what I'd like you to do. When you see someone you don't know, introduce yourself. Go out of your way to tell them your name and learn theirs. Do what you can to make them feel welcome among us. It REALLY does matter. You are a warm, kind-hearted congregation. But it won't feel that way to those who come among us if no one takes an interest in them and works to make them feel at home.

This past summer I visited a congregation in Chicago. I was impressed by the way the people sitting around me took an interest in me, asking if I was new, and generally helping me feel like I belonged among them. It really did help set me at ease in a strange place full of people who were strangers to me. Before long they did not feel like strangers.

So let's make that a habit here at Christmas and the year 'round. Go out of your way to get to know the folks seated around you. If you see someone you don't know, go over to them. Introduce yourself. Tell them you're glad they're here. God uses such small things in a great way. And who knows, by doing so, some have entertained angels unaware . . .

I just thought I should remind you,

Loving you in His grace,
S. Scott Lee
Soli Deo Gloria