A New Hope

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.


A New Hope

By Laura Sweet on January 11, 2022

Read: 1 Peter 1:1-9

He has caused us to be born again to a living hope. (v. 3)

In his 1986 memoir, Adrift: 76 Days Lost at Sea, Steven Callahan recounts his desperate journey in a small inflatable life raft in the Atlantic Ocean. With little water and food, Callahan barely survived; he struggled daily with waves, weather, and even the creatures of the deep. What struck me as I read the book was the author’s strong spirit that refused to give way to despair. Overall, Callahan’s hope that he would eventually be rescued kept him going until he was found.

Hope is a strong motivating force. The apostle Peter knew this as he wrote to persecuted believers in his first letter. He reminded them (and us!) of the living hope we have because Jesus rose from the dead. We also have hope in an inheritance that’s being kept in heaven for us. Likewise, we have hope because God’s power is protecting us until his salvation is revealed. Our hope will result in praise and glory and honor and, ultimately, in the salvation of our souls. Because we have hope, we can persevere through our suffering on earth for “a little while” (v. 6), as our faith is tested and refined. One day, this suffering will end. Our hope will lead us to inexpressible joy and glory with Christ for all eternity.

Everything in this world is eventually passing away, but our hope is living, eternal, and as certain as the word of God. Let that hope motivate you today to live for him. —Laura N. Sweet

As you pray, praise God for your living hope in Christ.

 

Ben Franklin, “The Way To Wealth”

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2022 Blog #2

January 10, 2022

Ben Franklin, “The Way To Wealth”

I have a few quirky rituals. Some I do daily and others I do yearly. For my daily devotionals each morning I read sections of the Heidelberg Catechism. When I am finished, I start again. My yearly ritual happens on New Year’s Day. Each new year I re-read the United States Constitution and also “The Way To Wealth” by Benjamin Franklin. It is a short book, only thirty pages, and it is full of wisdom that I find useful.

The point that Mr. Franklin makes in this book is that we hurt ourselves by living lives that lack self-discipline.  He explains that in life there are certain things that we cannot control. Governmental forces, economic realities, even weather is out of our control. These we simply must cope with. Yet, he continues, the most harm we receive is self- imposed. We do more harm to ourselves by our lack of self-discipline, a poor work ethic, and poor habits. I find that these are lessons that I need to hear again and again.

In life there are many things that we cannot control but we are capable of controlling ourselves, our lifestyles, our habits if we choose to do so. At the time of year when people make resolutions maybe our one resolution simply ought to be to lead a disciplined life; to control ourselves in a world where many things are not in our control. According to Franklin, wealth and respect come to us when we lead such lives.

This sounds to me a bit like an echo of Jesus’ words. He taught us to seek God’s kingdom first and everything we need would be given to us. This year may we pay less attention to the alarms and troubles of the world and more attention to ourselves, making sure that we behave well and making sure that God and God’s will are our priorities.

I challenge everyone to try this challenge. I bet that we will live feeling less stress and we will live respectable and prosperous lives.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthor                                                 #BergenfieldNJ

#BenjaminFranklin                                                   #PoorRichard

#TheWayToWealth                                                  #Responsibility

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Ben Franklin, “El camino a la riqueza”

Reflexiones ministeriales del lunes
Por el reverendo Mark William Ennis
2022 Blog #2
10 de enero de 2022
Ben Franklin, “El camino a la riqueza”

Tengo unos pocos rituales estrafalarios. Algunos lo hago diariamente y otros lo hago anualmente. Para mis devocionales diarios cada mañana leí secciones del Catecismo de Heidelberg. Cuando termine, comienzo de nuevo. Mi ritual anual ocurre el día de Año Nuevo. Cada nuevo año releo la Constitución de los Estados Unidos y también “El camino hacia la riqueza” de Benjamin Franklin. Es un libro corto, sólo treinta páginas, y está lleno de sabiduría que me parece útil.

El punto que el Sr. Franklin hace en este libro es que nos lastimamos viviendo vidas que carecen de autodisciplina. Él explica que en la vida hay ciertas cosas que no podemos controlar. Las fuerzas gubernamentales, las realidades económicas, incluso el clima están fuera de nuestro control. Simplemente debemos hacer frente a estos problemas. Sin embargo, él continúa, el daño que más recibimos es auto-impuesto. Nos hacemos más daño a nosotros mismos por nuestra falta de autodisciplina, una ética de trabajo pobre, y hábitos pobres.Encuentro que estas son lecciones que necesito escuchar una y otra vez.

En la vida hay muchas cosas que no podemos controlar pero somos capaces de controlarnos a nosotros mismos, nuestro estilo de vida, nuestros hábitos si elegimos hacerlo. En la época del año en que la gente hace resoluciones, tal vez nuestra única resolución debería ser llevar una vida disciplinada; controlarnos a nosotros mismos en un mundo donde muchas cosas no están bajo nuestro control. Según Franklin, la riqueza y el respeto nos llegan cuando llevamos una vida así.
Esto me suena un poco como un eco de las palabras de Jesús. Él nos enseñó a buscar primero el reino de Dios y todo lo que necesitamos nos será dado. Que este año prestemos menos atención a las alarmas y problemas del mundo y más atención a nosotros mismos, asegurándonos de comportarnos bien y asegurándonos de que Dios y la voluntad de Dios sean nuestras prioridades.
Reto a todos a intentar este desafío. Apuesto a que viviremos sintiendo menos estrés y viviremos vidas respetables y prósperas.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthor                                                 #BergenfieldNJ

#BenjaminFranklin                                                   #PoorRichard

#TheWayToWealth                                                  #Responsibility

Para leer más de los escritos del pastor Mark, solicite una copia de su libro:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

A person wearing a hat

Description automatically generated with low confidence

A New Lifestyle

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.


A New Lifestyle

By Laura Sweet on January 10, 2022

Read: Ephesians 4:17-32

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life . . . (v. 22)

Last year my youngest daughter, Meredith, adopted a dog that had spent a long time in the animal shelter. The grateful dog was enthusiastic in her love for both Meredith and her new home! Still, she had some bad habits from the shelter and needed to be “socialized” for her new life as a pampered pooch. Meredith is patiently loving and training her dog, helping her to become the pet she was meant to be.

Likewise, we carry some baggage from our former way of life—the sins we engaged in before we trusted in Christ. But Paul reminds us we must no longer live like the ungodly people of this world, who are ignorant of God’s Word. We must take off our “old self” and put on the “new self,” which follows God’s righteous ways (vv. 20-24). That means a lifestyle of honest work and truthful communication. We want to build others up with our words, not tear them down. Anger and bitterness are set aside; kindness and forgiveness are embraced.

The changes needed to live this way of life don’t happen overnight! God is patiently loving and leading us by his Holy Spirit, working within us and through us to walk as his obedient children. We have been forgiven of much; let us then “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (v. 32). —Laura N. Sweet

As you pray, ask God to help you put off the old self, and to put on the new.

 

A New Commandment

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.


A New Commandment

By Laura Sweet on January 9, 2022

Read: 1 John 4:7-21

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God. (v. 7)

The night before he was crucified, Jesus gathered with his disciples to observe the Passover. He had many things to share with them; he knew that, after his resurrection, the nature of their relationship would change. He would no longer be physically among them. But as the disciples remained together, it was so important for them to have strong and supportive bonds. And so he emphasized the love that needed to define their relationships: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another” (John 13:34).

John elaborates on this idea in 1 John 4. God’s children must love each other. That’s a tall order sometimes: neither we nor the people around us are always lovable. But this command is still possible because God is love, and love is from God. He is the source of all love. As we abide in God, God abides in us, and his love is perfected in us. We love God because he first loved us, and sent his Son to die in our place. If we don’t love others, we cannot truly know and love him.

Our love for God and for others is possible because “he has given us of his Spirit” (1 John 4:13). The Holy Spirit helps us to grow in our love for both God and for the people in our life. This new commandment can truly transform us and make us more loving—and more like Jesus! —Laura N. Sweet

As you pray, ask God to help you love him, and love others.

 

A New Mission

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.


A New Mission

By Laura Sweet on January 8, 2022

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ. (v. 20)

God has renewed us in so many ways! He has given us new hearts and new minds, and has regenerated us through a new birth. We have a new song to sing, and have been adopted into a new family. But God’s work of renewal doesn’t just consist in what he has done, but also in what he continues to do for us. Today we consider our calling to a new mission.

Paul reminds us in this passage that every believer is a “new creation” in Christ (v. 17). We have died to sin, and no longer live for ourselves. Now God has given us something new to live for—a new mission, “the ministry of reconciliation” (v. 18). God is using us, even as he used Paul, to be ambassadors that implore the world to “be reconciled to God” (v. 20). We share good news: there is forgiveness for sins, and new life in Christ. Through us, God extends his grace to the whole world.

Do you think of yourself as an “ambassador”? It means you are an official envoy—an authorized representative of God and his kingdom! He has entrusted us with the mission of extending the good news of salvation to everyone. That’s a big job that demands the very best of our time, talent, and effort. How are you fulfilling this mission? How can you do it better? Let’s strive to be the best ambassadors we can be for God’s kingdom! —Laura N. Sweet

As you pray, ask God to give you opportunities to serve as his ambassador for the kingdom.

 

A New Song

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.


A New Song

By Laura Sweet on January 6, 2022

Read: Psalm 40

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. (v. 3)

Life is not a musical; we do not spontaneously burst out in song as we go about our daily business. Or—do we? Have you ever experienced an overwhelming sense of God’s love and the joy of your salvation? It can cause even a demure, reserved person to sing a new song—“a song of praise to our God”  (v. 3). I’m not suggesting a scene like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, twirling around in the Austrian hills. I’m speaking of a heartfelt response for God’s grace at work in our lives.

Psalm 40 gives the psalmist’s testimony of God’s goodness and grace in his life. He called out to God for help in the midst of despair and confusion. He had struggled with his enemies, and with his own personal sin. He knew he was “poor and needy” (v. 17). But God heard his cry and delivered him from all these things. Now he sings a new song—a joyful song, of praise and salvation. He can’t keep this song to himself; he has to share “the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation” (v. 9). He hopes many will hear what God has done for him, and they in turn will “rejoice and be glad” in the Lord (v. 16).

Good news needs to be shared. New songs need to be sung. When God fills your heart with joy and gratitude, share that song with the world! —Laura N. SweetAs you pray, ask God to help you share your new song with others.

 

A New Mind

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.


A New Mind

By Laura Sweet on January 5, 2022

Read: Romans 12:1-13

But be transformed by the renewal of your mind . . . (v. 4)

Whether we make New Year’s resolutions or not, we all know that change is one of the hardest things to attempt to do. Habits and behaviors become deeply ingrained in our psyche, and changing our thinking patterns is especially difficult. Sometimes I have wished that I could just “wipe the slate” of my mind and start from scratch to put new habits in place. Still, change is possible—especially when we consider that God has given us a renewed mind in Christ.

In Romans 12, Paul describes how this renewed mind should change us. When we are transformed by a renewed mind, we will not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. We will respect others’ gifts and contributions to the “one body in Christ”—the church (vv. 4-5). A renewed mind allows us to love and honor our brothers and sisters in Christ. We will look for practical ways to help others through generosity and hospitality. In short, a renewed mind keeps us from being self-absorbed; instead, we will focus on others.

There are so many great “habits” listed in this passage for us to cultivate and ingrain into our character! And these new habits are possible because God has given us a renewed mind—the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). It’s all part of being able to discern “what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2)—the will of God for our lives. —Laura N. Sweet

As you pray, ask God to transform you by the renewing of your mind.

 

A New Birth

Our daily devotional is a re-post with permission from Words Of Hope. Come view our website at www.clintonave.org.


A New Birth

By Laura Sweet on January 4, 2022

Read: John 3:1-15

Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. (v. 3)

While sitting in a hospital waiting room, I noticed a break in the background music that was playing. Suddenly, a short refrain of Brahms’s “Lullaby” sounded throughout the building. I was told this is played whenever a baby is born. What a lovely way to celebrate the arrival of a new person! This “physical birth” is how we all entered this world—but it’s not the only birth we need.

Jesus spoke to the necessity of new birth; without it, no one can see the kingdom of God. When Nicodemus expressed his confusion, Jesus explained that he was speaking about a spiritual birth: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit “ (v. 6). Jesus alluded to his own death when he would be “lifted up” on the cross (v. 14). Those who believe in him would have eternal life because of his death on their behalf. Their faith would demonstrate their new, spiritual birth into God’s kingdom.

Being “born again” is a phrase we often associate with conversion and salvation. Jesus makes it clear that this is a work of God in our lives—a spiritual birth that makes us new. Paul explained it this way: “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God” (2 Cor. 5:17-18). God has given us new life through new birth. —Laura N. Sweet

As you pray, ask God to help you glorify him with the new life he has given you.

Christmas Fear

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2022 Blog #1

January 3, 2022

Christmas Fear

I saw, and heard about, a lot of fear during this Christmas season. With the new virus variant tearing through the world there are long lines at the testing centers, rising hospitalizations, and an overall sense of anxiety and in some cases, outright fear.

I wish that my grandmother was here to talk to us all. She once told me about a Christmas season when everyone that she knew was fearful and/or panicked. She told me a few times about the Christmas of 1941. She was forty-one years old at the time, was nursing a sick husband, trying to raise a nine-year old daughter.

To top this off, just eighteen days before Christmas, military forces of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. She told me that the whole country was scared that other attacks would come in the Western Part of the country even while German U-boats were attacking United States shipping bringing Lend Lease supplies to England and the Soviet Union. There was violence on both coasts, rumors abounding, and an overlay of fear. That is the mindset that she and other Americans had when they entered into church for Christmas Eve in December 1941.

I asked Granny how she, and others dealt with that fear. She smiled as she looked at me and told me her method. This many years later I could not possibly quote her but I’m sure that I can paraphrase her from my memory.

She told me that everyone she knew did the following:

Prayed daily

Vowed to never miss Church, both for mid-week services as well as Sunday. Prayers and hymn singing had a therapeutic effect on a person. Also, she told me, people were not sure how long they would live and church assured them that heaven awaited them if they died.

She told me that people were kind to one another. There was a real sense that with the fear of death so close by, a person did not want harsh words toward another to be their final words.

Finally, she told me that they listened to instructions from President Roosevelt and other governmental officials. She told me that sometimes instructions made sense and other times they did not, but President Roosevelt had more resources of facts than the average person did. Overall, federal advice was the best around.

Granny and her generation survived a difficult Christmas and lived with a lot of fear for almost four years before the war came to an end. If these techniques worked for her, maybe they will work for us. In this time of fear, I encourage us all to follow the Granny’s advice.

#ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                         #ReformedChurchInAmerica                    

#PastorMarkAuthor                                          #BergenfieldNJ

#Covid                                                                        #Christmas

#Fear                                                                          #Anxiety

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order copy of his book:

ahttps://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

The Friendly Church