Suppose that you died in the next few moments and suddenly found yourself standing before the Lord. Suppose that He asked you this question: Why should I let you into My heaven? What would be your reply? How would you answer?
Jesus faced the original cancel culture, a problematic person who needed to be silenced and even eliminated. In Acts 9 Saul broadened the cancel-culture to include anyone – man or woman – who happened to follow Christ. There have been and will always be those who want to cancel His followers. It has now become fashionable in this nation to criticize, scorn or shut-out those who name the name of Jesus Christ. Do not be shocked if America, in the not too distant future, becomes a killing field with believers as the prize. Are you ready?
For longer than 500 years the Jews had raised an impenetrable barrier between themselves and their northern neighbors, the Samaritans. They despised each other, did not speak to each other and had nothing to do with each other. Jesus, however, did not hold such hostilities in His heart. He loved and embraced the Samaritans. He even included the Samaritans in His last will and testament laid down in verse 8 of Acts 1: Don’t forget the Samaritans! When forced by tribulation to preach the gospel to the Samaritans, the walls of separation came crashing down. There were neither protests nor riots and no vigilantes from SLM (Samaritan Lives Matter) to make it happen. Perhaps America could use the model set forth in Acts 8. Perhaps we all could.
The beginning of each year is often used as a way of measuring progress, that is, where a person has been headed. In fact, the New Year is a terrific place for starting over. It is an occasion designed precisely for a renewal and/or a fresh start. I don’t know if Paul ever preached a New Year’s sermon, but I do know that two pithy phrases appear in Philippians 3:13 that give profound insight for any successful beginning or new renewal; phrases that are intensely significant for starting over.