The New Year brings a desire within many to start something new, to “turn over a new leaf.” There are other times throughout the year that changes will be made, some of those forced upon you by the circumstances of life and others that you choose to make due to various reasons.
We live in a changing world. Technology continues to advance, as does science and medicine. What was once a death sentence can now be cured; a conversation that was once restrained to a pen, paper, stamp, and a long wait for delivery is now possible in an instant. The lines between right and wrong have become blurred and many of the things that would have made previous generations blush are not widely accepted. I could go on and on, but you know the changes because you live them each day.
There are some things, though, that never change:
The sufficiency of Scripture. The Bible is still the Word of God, which is sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). While society tries to redefine what is right and wrong, God’s Word is the standard that is definitive in those areas. Someone has said: “It’s one thing to laud the Bible. It’s another to read it and still another to actually seek to apply and obey Scripture.” We are good at the first, but need to work on the other two.
The power of the Gospel. Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). The gospel still changes lives! While many things within the church may change, the gospel remains the same.
The role of the church. I have served in places that thought the church existed to participate in community events and buy advertising to support such events, and I have been places where people thought the church was there to give assistance when they got behind on bills. Dealing with these mindsets can become frustrating, but the church does exist for the community; it exists to meet the spiritual needs of the community. The church has been given the responsibility to impact our communities, but it has often been passed off to government agencies. There will always be people with needs, and at the core of all needs is a spiritual need. Only the church can meet that need.
The importance of Sunday School. By definition, Sunday School is the “foundational ministry in the local church.” While the focus is often put on age-specific ministries or need-focused ministries (all of which are important), Sunday School is probably the longest-standing ministry in the church. Sunday School is more than Bible study, though, as I see personal ministry happening through the Sunday School, as well as discipleship and fellowship.
The need for workers in the plentiful harvest. Jesus said it best: “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Luke 10:2). I have found that one of the most frustrating parts of ministry is the lack of desire for people to serve. The need is great! I can remember from my days of living in the rice fields of Northeast Arkansas that when it was time for the harvest, the farmers hired additional help to get it harvested in due time. If rain was in the forecast, they might even hire additional hands. In Luke 10, Jesus sees an abundant harvest but not enough workers. He instructed those He was sending out to “ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest fields” (Luke 10:2). The need has not changed, and neither has the plentiful harvest.
Prayer still works. God still answers prayers. He desires to commune with His children through prayer. Lives are changed, hope is given, direction is found, healing is delivered, and many other possibilities. Every major time of revival has been marked by prayer. Hard hearts are changed through the power of prayer. Do not stop praying.
God is in control. While none of us know what the new year holds, God will remain in control. I love the Corrie Ten Boom quote, “There is no panic in heaven, only plans.” Trust God’s plan!
Most people do not like change, especially good Baptists! While the world changes around us, “let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).