First, a recap of 2023 – In short, it was a year of sifting; of separating the wheat from the chaff, identifying the real warriors, while exposing the cowardly pretenders who name the Name, but will not count the cost of discipleship.
John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus at his first coming and that same spirit is here today to prepare the way for His second coming. In Matthew 3:11 he told us,
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
And in Hebrews 4:12 we read,
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
You see, the word of God separates the wheat from the chaff, the Soul and the Spirit.
This illustrates what I call a “threshold of carnality,” that point at which one crosses from the spiritual, and responds or reacts in the natural. When I began pastoral ministry many years ago, I was part of a liberal denomination where there was a very low threshold of carnality. Almost everything was done in the natural. When God promoted me to a pentecostal fellowship, I found the threshold of carnality was much higher. Much more was operating by the Spirit, but there was still a threshold, a point at which they would leave the Spirit and act in the flesh.
The apostle Paul warned the Galatian believers about beginning in the Spirit and yet falling to the flesh, preferring human reason above the Word and Spirit of God.
When the Bible talks about separating the joint and marrow it speaks of relationships where people, like bones, come together. What keeps us together is the marrow of our relationships, and that ought to be the very blood of Jesus.
Marrow produces red blood cells to carry oxygen to bring life to the Body, as well as white cells to fight off infection calling out error and corruption in the Church, and ultimately, it produces platelets to stop the bleeding, and facilitate healing. These same characteristics should describe our relationships in the Church. Our relationships must be founded upon the blood of Jesus, and not some mutual use agreement that serves nothing more than personal interest. We must be kingdom-minded.
The Word of God judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Men judge by outside appearances. I find it interesting that we tend to judge others by their actions, but we judge ourselves by our intentions, and of course, we never intend to sin, do we? But I digress…
Yes, in 2023 we saw much separating wheat from chaff, and much of it was disappointing, but nevertheless it was necessary to bring things into the light where we have true fellowship. You know, when the tube is squeezed what’s inside comes out. In 2023 the tube was squeezed, and we saw what came out. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was necessary to bring it into the light where the blood of Jesus cleanses us of all sin and we have fellowship-genuine fellowship-one with another.
And alas! God’s not finished.
Now Looking forward to 2024. Here are the bullet points:
• Pursue Integrity,
• Seek Unity,
• Advance the Kingdom
1 – Pursue Integrity, personal, holiness, virtue. Give Satan no cause for accusation.
We must make “virtue” cool again. If we’re going to run the race in 24, we must throw off the sin that so easily entangles, paralyzes and cause us to shrink back from the battle because of our own insecurity, caused by the self-awareness of our continual sin and our refusal to repent. Remember, John the Baptist baptized with water, but only Jesus can baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire to burn away everything that displeases the Father and gives Satan cause to accuse you before the throne. If you are not yet baptized in the Spirit you will need it in the New Year.
2 –Establish Unity – Seek fellowship with other Christians of other churches, and expressions of the faith. I find it interesting that pastors who swear to never get political, often will only fellowship with pastors of their own denomination or expression of faith. That, my friend, is the very essence of being political, and Paul counts it among the other sins of our sinful nature like sexual immorality, idolatry, witchcraft, and so on. Christian leaders who refuse to build relationships with other Christian leaders in their community are leading the present-day apostasy, falling away from the pure doctrines of the Gospel. Christians must not isolate. The love of God is a compelling force to bring believers together in the Name of Jesus. Where brethren dwell together, there is where the blessing and the power of the Lord is to be found. Living waters can only flow where there are channels of relationship. Pastors must lead the way.
3- Advance the Kingdom
Get involved in local politics and government.
“Where the righteous rule the people rejoice; where the wicked rule the people groan.” (Prov. 29:2). There is too much groaning in our nation.
The prophet Amos warns us about becoming complacent in Zion lest we experience the same judgment that came upon God’s chosen people. They lost their nation!
In Matthew. 16:18 Jesus tells Peter, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
The gates of Hades are stationary, the status quo of this world. It’s up to the Church, the Ekklesia, to advance to take back dominion of this earth entrusted to us.
“And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.” –Matthew 11:12:
If you’re not being attacked, or at least encountering resistance, I would question whether or not you’re even in the fight. But know this, our weapons are not the weapons of this world; No, it is perfect love that drives out all fear (1 John 4:18) It is God’s perfect love that wins the day. It’s by the love that we have for one another that the world will know we are His disciples. It is in that love that your children will see Jesus.
So get involved in local politics and government. Be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, not the salt in the Church and the light in your prayer closet. Make a difference.
Where the righteous rule the people rejoice; where the wicked rule the people groan. (Prov. 29:2). Let’s see the groaning turn to rejoicing.
So, to recap: 1) Pursue integrity, 2) Seek Unity 3)Advance the Kingdom
Will I see America saved? I don’t know. This I do know: Duty is mine; results are God’s. Let’s do our duty In 2024 for the benefit of our posterity and the glory of God.
Please spread this word however you can, and I can be of further help don’t hesitate to call.