By Pastor Gary Beck | December 21, 2019
December offers a great opportunity to complete projects and begin new changes in your life. The end of the year can mean the end of old worries, old clutter, and old habits, while the new year can mean the start of new habits, new projects and goals, and peace of mind. In Japan, December is a busy month as families work hard to clean up their homes, repair anything that needs fixing, and throw out unneeded items. For example, all the interior doors are repaired (paper and wood), clothes are mended or thrown out, and new clothes are purchased, so that on the first of the year, the family has a fresh start in a clean home with everything working and at least some new clothes for everyone. Food is cooked and prepared so that the first three days of the New Year is free for families to celebrate life and friendships. No work, no cleaning, and no cooking is done those three days. Businesses are closed; the only ones open are essential services and transportation. Everyone eats special foods and plays games or visits relatives and friends. This has been the national culture for centuries. It is a time the family works together for the comfort and benefit of the family.
It sounds like a great idea to have a fresh start. Maybe we could learn a lesson or two in re-evaluating our goals and making sure our families are getting the most out of family life. Rather than making sure we are taken care of, we should make sure our family members are taken care of and that they have a reason to love being home with the rest of the family. We should let go of bitterness and grudges. Anything that annoys or causes hardship we can re-examine to see if a remedy is available.
God would love to have us consider some of these concepts. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32) “So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.” (1 Peter 2:1) So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:8)
Since we have holidays coming up, let’s consider how to make them a festival of praise and family. We could clean up not just our homes, but our lives and relationships. The new year could be the start of greater peace, more joy and more focused goals. We could spend more time in God’s Word, more time in prayer and searching His Word for His plans for our happiness. When He comes, God has plans for a new start for everyone, with a new home, fresh food at His banquet and a complete restoration of relationships. Remember what the leaves on the Tree of Life are for?
God wants heaven to start here. The opportunity is still before us. Don’t wait for someone else to start the trend. We can begin now to plan on God’s Presence for the New Year, even more than ever before.
Pastor Gary Beck