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As we look forward to 2020 we begin a new decade. This year will be full of change. Some will expected, some will surprise us. Some changes will be pleasant but some may be painful. Each new year is a great time to look back and reflect on what has gone on in life. The good, the bad and the ugly. Not to dwell on it but to use the last years events to build on next years success.

Following are some verses that may help you reflect on the past, and set some goals for 2020 (ie. I want to read my Bible at least 5 days a week; I’m going to make church attendance a priority ; I’m going to find one thing everyday to thank God for; etc) Maybe you even want to write them somewhere so you can look back at them from time to time to measure your progress. I’ve included some “thought questions” that may help your meditation. Don’t feel you need to spend a lot of time on each verse. Perhaps you want to choose two or three that meant something during your first reading and after asking Gods direction.

• What action-step is this verse calling me too?

• Where am I in the game of life. A spectator, bench rider or active participant? What do I need to do to change that?

• What am I afraid of in 2020? How does this verse help?

• What life-style change do I need to ask Gods Holy Spirit to help me with?

• Who do I need to forgive?

1. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)

2. “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'” (Isaiah 1: 18)

3. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

4. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6)

5. A new command I give you: Love one another. As Jesus has loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are His disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)

6. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. (Psalms 71:3)

7. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)

8. Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. (Psalms 96:1)


In our humanity we often tend to think God only uses those who have their act together. We look for pastors and church leaders that have squeaky clean records, are financially stable and have 15 children, all of whom are on the ‘A Honor Roll’ and in the ‘Who’s Who of American Scholars’.

Especially in our culture that is harder and harder to find, or maybe it’s always been harder to find now that I think about it. Looking back in Biblical history, few, if any of the ‘great men of God’ were all that great. The list is made up of murderers, adulterers, cheaters, and those who struggled with mental health issues (to name a few).

We are never expected to ‘clean up our act’ so God can use us. Peter demonstrated amazing faith when he stepped out of a boat during a storm. David chose to go into battle without any armor. Issac followed his dad to the mountain for sacrifice when they had no animal and then allowed his dad to tie him up! The Apostle Paul did some of his best writing strapped to a couple of Roman Guards!

The point is, God seems to use do his best work in people who are at their worst and bless them in the process. With the power of God’s Holy Spirit within us we can plant seeds of love, mercy, forgiveness and grace in those around us. How we react to life’s struggles are an amazing testimony to the God we serve.

When He puts you in a place of struggle keep one hand in his and reach out to someone else that needs to see the way through the darkness and tears. You’ll both be better off!


I think, in all of scripture, the one passage that spoke to me most on my journey out of the self-imposed wilderness I was in was the passage in Luke 22 where Jesus predicts Simon Peter’s failure. But the story didn’t stop with his failure. Peter’s failure (by human standards) was God’s tool for greatness. Peter’s failure was the means by which his Heavenly Father made him the leader God needed to empower and encourage his church in the early years.

The best part of the story is that Jesus prayed for Peter. He didn’t pray that Peter would be delivered, he prayed he would be strengthened. He didn’t pray Peter would fail, he prayed that WHEN (not if) Peter returned, he would encourage us.

Peter’s spiritual failure didn’t make him perfect, but it gave him an new outlook on life; a new appreciation for grace and forgiveness; a new energy to reach out to the struggling.

Nothing much has changed. We still fail. Jesus still prays for our strength. We still have a ministry. I hurt when I think of all the wasted years; all the unwritten stories; all the changed lives that could happen if we realized God can use your weakness to be strong in him.

Have you failed? You are a valuable tool in God’s kingdom. Don’t stop at the sifting. Let the grace and power of Jesus Christ strengthen you for the work God has for you. Don’t live in failure any longer!


Those who have been bruised know pain like no one else. They’ve experienced the rejection. They have endured the guilt. They have wandered the wilderness of loneliness. No two bruised reeds handle pain in the same way. Some explain it away; some hide it under denial, chemicals or pseudo relationships. Some wear it as a badge and look for some sort of comfort in letting others know about their pain. This works for awhile, until people get tired of hearing about it.

The smoldering wicks of our world die a thousand deaths every day. The unmet expectations of others constantly remind them of their failure and guilt. The constant attacks of their inner being shame them into the realization (in their eyes) that they will never amount to anything; that they were some sort of cosmic mistake.

Jesus brings justice if we will listen. Unlike the justice of our society, which is based on man’s external assessment of the situation, the justice Jesus brings is truth. Not truth based on societies standards. Not truth which will come at some point in the future, truth that is here today. Jesus tells us the real truth about us. He knows a thing or two because he’s seen a thing or two. He’s seen every bruise. He knows every crushed dream. He’s gentle with your past failures (including the self-inflicted ones) and seeks to fan into flame the potential he gave you when he created you in his image to be a masterpiece.

Jesus knows the truth about you and loves you passionately.


No one would dispute the desire for justice, except, perhaps for those who know they are guilty. Even then, the guilty often find some reason to justify their actions. It’s easy to play the blame game. I wouldn’t do this if they hadn’t done what they did. Or, “Yeah, maybe I’m guilty of this, but what I did isn’t nearly as bad as what they did.”

The fickle attitude of society seems to gravitate towards an idea that ‘justice is that which gives my opinion, my people group, my passion the advantage’. Justice in our society changes with time and is often dependent on the general attitude of society. Things that seemed ‘wrong’ 25 years ago are socially acceptable.

True justice transcends time and opinion of man. The good news is true justice never changes and benefits mankind because of it’s stability. The bad news is that true justice, while beneficial over all, is inflexible. God speaks through his prophet Amos and reminds us that true justice is the plumb line of God’s word. There is no wavering.

Many may see that as intolerant but God’s law is governed by love. Perfect love, like true justice, casts out fear. Living according to God’s law brings stability, a sense of purpose and reassurance based on the promise that God is love. Even when we fail him he reaches out to us and offers forgiveness.

You can trust the true justice of God because you can trust God’s promises. We live in a world of turmoil now, but someday his justice will be the unmistakeable law of the land.

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