Jesus holding a bread as a symbol of bread of life

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
John 6:35 (NIV)
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January 1, 2017

Today is the first day of a new year. Whatever mistakes you’ve made, whatever setbacks you’ve experienced, whatever failures you’ve endured, you can wipe the slate clean and start anew.  You can seize the day, seize the new year, seize a new life. The question is, however, will you seize things your way or God’s way?

I’ve made many New Year’s Resolutions and almost every time have failed to see them through. I start off well but then flounder and sputter and ultimately crash and burn.  I’ve learned it’s better to do it God’s way.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here.” How exactly do you create a new creation? I’ve been banging my head against the wall for decades trying to figure that out and have finally concluded that I am not strong enough, not talented enough, not smart enough.  But I don’t have to do it myself.  If you are “in Christ,” nothing is impossible.

Much of my life I sought the world’s treasures by conforming to the patterns of the world. And while I occasionally found moderate success or limited happiness, I also found pain, frustration and emptiness. We are told in Romans 12:2 as follows: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” You cannot be what God intends you to be by conforming to the world.  So to be in Christ, you must be transformed.  How?

It won’t happen by being passive; you must pursue it vigorously. In Genesis, Jacob stole his brother Esau’s blessing by deceiving their father, causing Jacob to run away.  While on his way back years later, he wrestled with a man all night, who then asked at daybreak for Jacob to let him go.  Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” If you want to change your life, if you want to be transformed, if you want to live differently this year, if you want to be in Christ, you must wrestle with God and say, “I will not let go until you bless me.”

Robin Williams played a teacher in the movie Dead Poets’ Society and told his young students: “Carpe diem! Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”  He was right but omitted the most important thing about seizing the day. Be transformed by wrestling with God, refusing to let go until He blesses you and letting him in your heart and your life.  If you will surrender to him, you will have seized the day and 2017 will be an extraordinary year for you.

God bless you.

Jim Hester


Shelter from the Storm

Having recently celebrated Thanksgiving, and with 2017 almost here, it’s a good time to reflect on recent events and the soon-to-be-here new year.  If you are like most people, 2016 has been marked by a few victories and some defeats.  Perhaps this year has been one of many blessings; or maybe it has overflowed with challenges and setbacks.  For myself, I have experienced both and while I much prefer the blessings, I am grateful for both.  We are told in Romans 5:4 that “…suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope.”  While the many positive things that occurred to me this year made me smile, the painful things made me grow and drew me closer to God.

Whatever your particular circumstances are, here are three reasons why you should be thankful.

First, God is good.  As we are told in 1 Chronicles 16: 34, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Your circumstances may not always be good, but because God is always good and because he will never stop loving you, you can always be thankful.

Second, we have been instructed by God to be thankful.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” In other words, being grateful is not an option.  God has commanded it and it is His will for your life.

Third, being thankful has practical applications and there are clear benefits to being grateful.  In other words, it works.  If you’re not grateful because God is good or because He has commanded it, be grateful because it will give you the peace of God. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Do you want the peace of God to guard your heart and your mind?  Do want protection from the storms of life? Always be grateful and you will find peace in all you do.Thank God for everything and you will always be given, better than any person could give you, shelter from the storm.

I was burned out from exhaustion buried in the hail
Poisoned in the bushes and blown out on the trail
Hunted like a crocodile ravaged in the corn
“Come in,” she said,
“I’ll give you shelter from the storm.”

Bob Dylan, Shelter from the Storm

Jim Hester

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