Due to inclement weather, the 9 a.m. service for Sunday, Jan. 20 has been cancelled. We will have one morning service at 10:45 a.m. as road conditions improve.

Bring Back the Springtime

by Nathan McClay

The winter nights are cold, dark, and long, while the daytime sky is often cloudy and gray.  The barren tree limbs sway helplessly, while the bitter winds whisper a mournful tune. If the winter season were a musical arrangement, it would culminate into a symphony of depression, as far as I am concerned.
 
I know there are some people out there somewhere, who love wintertime, and I even admit that the snow is pretty, and have enjoyed sledding with my children and grandchildren, but for many of us, it is a long, lonely season. Some even suffer from seasonal affective disorder, adding to the pain of an already dismal time of year.
 
Every year, it seems, during some of my darkest winter thoughts, there is a Christian song from the 1970s, written by Kurt Kaiser, that echoes around in that hollow chamber in my head, “Lord, to my heart bring back the springtime.  Take away the cold and dark of sin. O, refill me now, sweet Holy Spirit. May I warm and tender be again.”
 
I have a friend who describes March 1 as the day of hope. As you flip the calendar from February to March, you’ll notice on the third week, “first day of Spring.”  Ah, it is finally almost here!  Soon the trees will start budding, the grass will start growing and the earth will warm up, making our outdoor activities much more comfortable and enjoyable.  The days of cabin fever will be gone, and we’ll seem to have a new lease on life.
Perhaps an indifference has overshadowed your life and your fellowship with the Almighty has been hampered.  Maybe the “cold and dark of sin,” as the songwriter mentioned, is an all too present reality in your life, and you need a spiritual springtime, a time of renewal and growth in your walk with the Lord.
 
In the final verse of Peter’s epistles, II Peter 3:18, he encourages his readers to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This seems to run contrary to the way most self-help and self-esteem lectures would run. Instead of simply looking within ourselves, taking an inventory of our strengths, and adding in the mix a positive attitude, the apostle tells his readers to look to the Lord and to grow in Him.
 
He tells us to grow in grace. We know that apart from the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, there is no salvation. There was nothing within us of merit that would have been anywhere close to being sufficient for us to obtain eternal life. “For by grace are we saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” It was “when we were yet without strength that Christ died for the ungodly.”
 
But grace is not only the starting point in our salvation, it also sustains us in our sanctification. One lesson that God taught Paul, and that he (Paul) in turn passed on to the Corinthians was this: “My grace is sufficient for you and my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul went on to say that he “gloried in his infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon him…when I am weak then I am strong.” For the believer, growth is not found in an acknowledgment of his or her own personal abilities, but in relying on the all-sufficient grace of God.
 
The final verse in II Peter also instructs us to grow in His knowledge. One of the sayings from the Old Testament book of Proverbs is “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the holy is understanding.” Knowledge demands research, and for the Christian that involves knowing Christ through the scriptures.
 
We ultimately grow in our knowledge of Him when we display Christlikeness in our lives.  One of Christ’s outstanding attributes that is absolutely amazing to us is His humility, as displayed in Philippians 2. Paul instructs us here to have the mind of Christ in dealing with our fellow believers and then points to our Savior taking on the form of a servant and being made in the likeness of man, so that He could die for us, as the supreme example of humility.
 
In the next chapter in Philippians, Paul expresses that it was his supreme desire to know Him “in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings.”
 
Many centuries later, Eliza Hewitt would express her desire to Him our Lord in poetic form, when she wrote, “More about Jesus would I know, More of His grace to others show; More of His saving fullness see, more of His love who died for me.”
 
So, as we look around at nature in these next few months, and see a resurgence of growth, let’s remind ourselves that it is always time to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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