Monthly Archives: December 2013

What will your fresh start look like?

This devotion is actually from last year but it seemed perfect for today. I like to reflect on who I was this year and how I can make myself better for the Kingdom of God. As a pastor of a church, I realize the cycle of life in the lives of those around me and in my own life. I can be rejoicing with one person one minute over a victory in his or her life and grieving with another person the next minute over a tragedy. It is simply how life is. Today take a moment to think about 2013 and then look ahead to 2014. What will your fresh start look like?

The new year brings enthusiasm, hope, and the potential for change. As a pastor of a church, I am beginning a series of sermons on fresh starts. Like all my sermons, it comes with tremendous thought and prayer. Before I can utter a word, I know I must hear from the Lord.

This morning I was thinking about how we start over. How we undo what has been done, regroup, and start again. In Northeast Georgia, it is a cold morning. As I walked my dog, I could see my breath in the air before me; my fingers felt tight from the temperature; and the wind chilled my body. I thought of spring.

But you and I both know, in order for spring to come, winter has to end. I can’t have both seasons. The fresh green grass and spring flowers could not thrive and grow in this kind of weather. No, in order to start new, something has to end.

Really, it is more about ending than beginning. We have to let go of what we are holding on to so that we can start fresh. One cannot exist when the other is around. How do we let go so that we can start new?

The words “Love Me” came clearly to my heart. When we commit our hearts and lives to God fully, the love we have for Him overshadows the grip of sin and death. When we sell out to God, like the thawing of the ice upon the ground, new life pushes through, fresh and green.

When God spoke to Moses and instructed him to go to Pharoah, Moses asked Him, “Who do I say sent me?”

God responded, “Tell him, I am.”

I am ______________ (fill in anything you wish). He is more than enough. He is the answer to every problem. He is exactly what we need. He is our portion.

Make this year the year you commit daily to a loving relationship with God. Make this the year you study His word every day. Communicate with Him throughout the day. And make Him front and center in your home. Make this the year you end your former self and begin fresh and new in the love of God.

Happy New Year! May you love God deeper and experience the wonder of a fresh new start in Him.


God’s forgiveness

1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

One of the toughest concepts to accept is the reality of the forgiveness of God. There was a time in my life when I wondered if God could forgive me. I spent a great time feeling sorry for myself and my stupidity. But, even when we have made a serious mistake; even when we have hurt someone; even when we have lied; even when we have betrayed; we have a new beginning – a “do over.” in Christ.

When the kids were little and would act up, Connie gave them a chance to “do over” what they messed up. Sometimes I wish I could hit the rewind button and rephrase my words or redirect my actions. With Christ, we get a fresh start, a clean slate. He keeps no record of wrong. When we come before Him, asking for forgiveness, no matter how bad we messed up, Christ redeems us. He wipes the slate clean.

Some of you may have sin in your life that you have not confessed to God.  Maybe you think it is too awful; maybe you are too ashamed to admit it; maybe you don’t want to face God. Today, go to Him in prayer so that you can begin fresh and new today. Ask Him to cleanse you of your sin. Thank Him that you can be forgiven. Then, with your fresh start, leave the sin behind you and move forward a new and better person.


How much more?

Mistakes. We all make them. Some of us several times a day. Mistakes are as big a part of life as are successes. For some of us, mistakes are more a part of our lives than successes.

1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

I have three children: David, Daniel, and Renee, and I couldn’t love them any more if I tried. There are days, especially in the teenage years, that I might have struggled with just how much I wanted to love them that particular day; but, I have adored them since the first day I held them in my arms. Connie and I have, like all parents, faced challenges and rewards in raising them. If you are a parent, you know it comes with the territory. But not once, when they made a mistake, did I decide they were no longer mine. David Franklin, Daniel Franklin, and Renee Franklin all go to bed with the same last name and wake up with the same last name, because they are my children.

Do you know how much more God loves you and me? Do you really believe that there is any mistake out there that would change who you are in God’s eyes?

I can remember my dad telling me as a boy, “Son, I may not be happy with the way you are acting, but that doesn’t change who you are to me.” I am sure we disappoint God with our choices, but He hears us when we repent of our sins and He loves just the same.

When sin plays a part in your daily life, seek the forgiveness of God; then, accept His forgiveness and grace, move on with your life, and don’t repeat the sin again.


A New you

Ephesians 4:22-24, “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.”

When I was a young teen, I had a buddy whose father’s occupation moved him around quite often – sometimes 2 to 3 times per year. Riley could make anyone laugh. He was the type that made friends easily and quickly. One night at a sleep over, he told us his secret. With every move, if he didn’t like who he was in the last school, he would just change. Sometimes he was an athlete; sometimes a band member; sometimes a debate teamer; he simply became a new person. 

In a few days, we will begin a new year. It doesn’t take January however to become a new person in Christ; it only takes a willingness from us to start fresh and new in Christ. We are told we can have a new attitude, a new self, and that we have the ability to throw away our former self. 

Over the next few Sundays in the church I am privileged to pastor, we are going to talk about starting over; becoming new; getting a fresh start. I hope you will join us online at http://www.thetorch.net or in person. Join us and see what God has to say about second chances, new beginnings, and fresh starts. 


A Fresh Start

1 John 5:4, “…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”

For a person who has not accepted Christ as Lord and Savior of his or her life, when he or she determines to do so, a rebirth, a new beginning, a fresh start, is apparent. God tells us that when we come to know Christ, we are a “new creation before Him.” But what about when you already are a Christian? What about those of us who have received our fresh start already? Have we blown it? Can we have another?

Hebrews 12:1 tells us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…

Sin is a hindrance. It is a gripping, crippling, entangling act that builds a wall between us and God. The cleansing so necessary of our souls is not a one time sinners prayer. Repentance must come every day and true redemption is about starting over and not returning to our old ways. So many of us do not understand the weight of sin. We continue to justify our actions either out of stupidity or denial. Sin leads to death but redemption through Christ leads to eternal life.

I remember well a time when I asked my dad how I could know that God had forgiven me of my sins. He quizzed me for a moment, insuring that I had prayed to God of my concerns and reminding me of Christ’s blood shed for me; then, he handed me a broom. The shed needed sweeping. Now, I knew that shed had not been swept in months and the thickness of the dust was almost unbearable. As I began to push the 1/2 inch thick layer of dirt off the floor, I noticed a white floor underneath. Excitedly, I pushed forward, sometimes stopping to fan the air thick with dust. After several hours, my dad returned to examine the job I had done.

“Looks like new, Michael! Nice job,” he said patting me on the back. “Did you learn anything?”

As I looked down at the cement floor and thought of the thickness of the dirt before, I smiled. We are like that cement floor. Daily sweepings sure would make it easier, but even when our sins cover us like that 1/2 inch layer, God can sweep them away by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Some of us are hanging on to sin that we need to take to the Lord for a fresh start. A new look. A new beginning. Some of us need to do a 180 degree turn and march the other way from the lifestyles we’re living. Is it easy? No! But neither was the Cross for our Lord and Savior.

If you are uncertain about what sins are in your life, ask God to search your heart so that you will have a fresh start in Jesus Christ today. For those of us who might look like the shed’s floor, there’s no time like the present to start removing the filth on our hearts.


Give yourself a fresh start

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

One of my favorite Broadway productions is Annie. It is a story of an orphaned girl who is eventually adopted by Daddy Warbucks, a very wealthy business man. From rags to riches, Annie is given the opportunity of a lifetime – to start over, fresh and new, clean slate. It doesn’t come without trials and struggles though. Annie believes her parents are still alive and before she will consent to the adoption, Daddy Warbucks declares a global search for her parents, reward money is offered. Sadly, thousands of parents line up claiming to be “the one.” The little girl is heartbroken seeing the deception of people as couple after couple cannot answer the one question that identifies them as Annie’s true mom and dad.

Eventually, Annie has to choose. Does she hang on to the past? A past that has caused her heartache and sorrow? Or does she let go of it and start new? Annie sings a very familiar song called, “Tomorrow.” The chorus says, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow, you’re only a day away.”

Aren’t we all a little like Annie? We have a fresh new start available to us, yet we want to hold onto a part of our old self ? An old habit? Bitterness? Anger? Betrayal?

But if we are willing to let it go, God has a new day for us! A fresh start! A do-over, and it is all ours simply by asking Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of our lives.

There is no greater tragedy to me than a person who is not willing to change. Sadly, I see it often. “Well, Pastor, I know what I’m doing is wrong and I need to stop it but I can’t. I’m stuck. It is just too impossible.”

Do you know that NOTHING is impossible with God? So, what is holding you back? What has you stuck in a past that will get you NOWHERE fast?

Some of us think that by holding on we are made stronger. In actuality, the greatest strength may come by the ability to let go. The new is here! Embrace it. Give yourself a fresh start


Merry Christmas!

Luke 1:14, “And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.”

Some of you opened your eyes this morning to the sounds of excited children, waiting to open long-awaited presents. Some of you hit the ground running this morning, trying to get to the home of your grandchildren. And some of you may have wished to have somewhere to go or longed for a Christmas of the past. To all of you, I want to remind you of the reason for today.

However your life is today, God sent His Son, His only Son, to the world today. He sent Him so that He would not have to separate Himself from us because of sin and death. He sent Him because of His deep love for you and for me.

It’s hard to imagine the tiny hands born on this day were the hands of God; how the eyes of an infant boy were the eyes of our Heavenly Father. The light of the world, born in Bethlehem, born to save the souls of man, came here to be with us, to save our world.

Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”

Isaiah 9:6, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

There are many presents under our tree this year; but, it is important for us to realize, the greatest gift to celebrate is the birth of our Savior; our King; our Lord; and our Redeemer. Rejoice today because it is the Birthday of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace.