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In a recent conversation with my wife, Pam, she asked me a probing yet pertinent question. “If you had to use one word to describe what to believe about the new year, what would it be?”

My answer was quick and to the point. “Unfinished.” That is my watchword for 2023.

In full disclosure, your State Board of Missions staff and others are continuing to commemorate in 2023 our 200 years as a state convention. Indeed, “Unfinished” is our emphasis this year culminating in our family gathering at the Annual Meeting in November.

Let me offer a few reflections in light of this emphasis as I seek to be encouraging to Alabama Baptists.

As believers, we know Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30) as He died on the cross. We rightly interpret that to mean that the shed blood of Christ redeems us. His life was given for us.

There is no amount of good works we can do to earn our salvation. That is the point Paul made in Ephesians 2:8-10. Verse 10 of that passage is lesser known than the previous two. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (NKJV).

The work of Christ is unfinished in that He has given us the Great Commission. Our challenge is to seek to fulfill this mission until we are called home or the Lord Himself returns.

This means that we still have people to reach for Christ. More people are lost without Christ today than during any other time in world history. They live in Alabama, in Alaska, in Albania, in Argentina and around the world.

There is much more disciple-making to be done in our churches and in our communities. Today there are more Bibles in the world than ever before. Perhaps there are likewise more Bibles in many homes around the globe. Yet Biblical literacy is woefully low. Our churches need more discipled people to lead them than we now have.

In the wake of so many disasters in our day, we need more trained Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief workers to be prepared for what we know is going to happen in 2023 and beyond. The Yellow Shirt Army needs more mercy soldiers.

We are unfinished in our spiritual maturity. We need to continue to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus. I confess I need to grow in Christ. We all do. We cannot allow ourselves to become stagnant and stale.

As I indicated earlier, these are but a few reflections for the chosen word of emphasis “Unfinished.”

Remember the words of Paul in Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV): “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Unfinished! Personally, this word encourages me to do God’s work, in His way, for His glory.

Rick Lance
Phil. 3:13-14

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