Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set yourSince you have been raised to new life with Christ, set yoursights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’sright hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fillyour thoughts. Do not think only about things down here onearth. For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your reallife, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. (Colossians 3:1-4, NLT)
Every year in the month of January we hear a great deal about New Year’s resolutions—losing weight, getting a better job, rising earlier, watching less TV, making more time for family, and on they go. Now, I’m not saying that we should not make New Year’s resolutions. It’s good to pray sincerely about a greater determination to improve our lives.
But along with resolutions, I’m more concerned about CONVICTIONS! Let’s consider the meaning of the “term” conviction. A court of law might convict a person of a crime, and there would be a penalty: a monetary fine, a prison sentence, or another form of payment for the crime. The word “conviction” also includes the idea of convincing a person of a crime or mistake. But the Biblical use of the term is something of a blessing rather than a disaster. I’m referring to the Holy Spirit convicting a sinner of sin, especially the sin of not believing in Jesus Christ as his or her Savior. This is the greatest sin that can be named—to reject the merciful act of God in sacrificing His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. But God is not willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance for the “sin” of which they are convicted. He loves sinners and prefers to forgive them rather than allow them to be lost and to be judged and sentenced to an eternal Lake of Fire! Our Heavenly Father has vowed that there is only one way to eternal salvation: Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NLT)
But let Christian believers realize that, as children of God, in order to develop our relationship with Christ, we must also respond to the convictions of the Holy Spirit. When we fall short of the will of God, the Holy Spirit is faithful to convict us. Sometimes it’s having ill will toward another, gossiping, neglecting prayer and worship, being judgmental, or having an unforgiving spirit.
Yes, I’m quite sure there are many Christians who need to do more than make a few resolutions. Remember, the Holy Spirit convicts Christians of sin just as He convicts sinners. But to both saint and sinner, the promise is: “. . . if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” (I John 1:9, NLT)
There is a level of Christian living that the obedient believer can reach to have victory over sin. But too many professing Christians have not been willing to seek the cleansing of the Spirit and go on into asking, seeking, knocking, and believing for the fullness of the Holy Spirit and fire! The greatest weakness in evangelical churches today is a failure in discipleship—the lack of leading new believers into the Spirit-filled life, which is the secret to spiritual growth, spiritual knowledge, and spiritual power. Too little is said from church pulpits and class-rooms today about prayer, holiness, and the Spirit-filled life.
I want to close this New Year’s message by calling attention to Paul’s epistle to the Philippian Church: In chapters 3 and 4 Paul is giving his testimony about a conviction that he experienced as a Christian that we all need to help us recognize that God is at work within us to bring us to all of the fruit of the Spirit.
In Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT) he confesses,
“No, dear brothers and sisters,I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.”
Let us consider a few more truths that should be taken as convictions from the Scriptures that the apostle gave the Philippian believers before he closed his epistle—great New Year’s convictions:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:6-8, NLT)
Dear readers, let’s pray for the Spirit to bring the convictions He would have us live out in obedience and experience the most powerful year we’ve ever known in all our Christian history. Here’s what will happen when we begin obeying the Spirit: it is found in Acts 5:32 (NLT): “. . . the Holy Spirit . . . is given by God to those who obey Him.”
Friends, let’s pray that God will make 2017 a year of obedience, a year of walking in the Spirit, praying in the Spirit, living in the Spirit, and believing in the Spirit for the greatest revival in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ! And let us do it with divine conviction upon us!
A glorious New Year to all of our fellow believers and prayer warriors who are standing with us in revival faith!
Expressions of Appreciation
We are grateful to all of our readers who have prayed for our ministries and supported us financially over the past several years. We continue to need both your prayers and your generous giving to support our weekly radio broadcast, “A Call to Prayer.” By sending this quarterly journal via e-mail to most of our readers, we are able to reduce printing and mailing expenses significantly.
The Christian Renewal Board Members wish to express their appreciation to my daughter Priscilla Larsen for her 10 years of efficient service as my Executive Assistant. We received her letter of resignation in November. We are pleased that my wife, Shirley, will serve as my Executive Assistant and Betty Fremont has agreed to serve as our Treasurer. They are both members of the Board of Directors. We also express our appreciation to my son Steve Tharp for his exceptional service of more than 15 years in managing our website, as well as resolving my many media situations. We are grateful that Daniel Hartzheim is assuming the website responsibilities in January.
Rev. Jim and Shirley Tharp’s Winter Schedule
School of Prayer: Bitterroot Valley Church of the Nazarene, 803 5th Ave., Victor,MT 59875; Sunday, January 15 through Wednesday, January 18, 2017. Pastor: Rev. John Capen; church phone 406-642-3838.
Saturday Morning Prayer Group: From 10 am to 12 noon, Pastor Tharp leads a prayer meeting, interceding for revival and a great spiritual awakening, at the Big Sky House of Prayer, 215 Arden Dr., Unit #32, Belgrade, MT. If you are in the area, you are welcome to join with us for intercessory prayer.
Every Sunday Morning from 9:00-9:30 Mountain Time: Pastor Tharp broadcasts a sermon over 99.1 FM on his program, A Call to Prayer.