#27 Reflections for a New Year
January 3, 2006
"...But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3: 13b-14)
Happy New Year! I hope that your holiday weeks have been blessed and that Jesus was the main focus of your thoughts.
This week we stand at the threshold of a brand new year. 2006...can you believe it? I'm sure that in some ways you are like me and that there are some things that you are glad to see behind you. But I'm sure that there are also good memories and hope for the days ahead. How do we most effectively go forward into the new year with renewed faith and a closer walk with God? I believe that it can be done in three important ways. And we must do them now...while the year is just beginning. There is nothing like a fresh start.
The first thing to do is to take a look at the past year. A brief but close look. Brief enough to stay away from wallowing in self-pity over things that didn't go right or letting bitterness take root because of hurts you have suffered. Brief enough to not become self-satisfied with your Christian career and think that you can slacken your pace. But close enough to see your many blessings. Close enough to see your many failures as well. Not to beat yourself up over them by any means. Remember there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (See Romans 8:1). But to learn from your mistakes. Learning produces growth. If we do not learn and grow from our mistakes we are doomed to repeat them. The Israelites just couldn't get that one right and as a result they wandered around the desert for 40 years. Where did you fail? What did you refuse to give up to God in stubbornness or rebellion, thinking that you had it all under control? Is there anything that you can own as a recurring sin over the last year? A secret place in your heart where God just isn't allowed? Ask Him to show you. Take a quick inventory of every area of your life...your marriage, your role as a mom or dad, your work, your friendships, your service to Him. In each area, thank Him for His abundant blessings and ask for help in the areas where you find yourself lacking. Tell Him that you can't do it without His help. And then move on.....say goodbye to the past...throw away all that extra baggage that weighs you down. Remember our verse? "Forgetting what lies behind." God says in Isaiah 43:18, "Forget the former things: do not dwell on the past." It sounds like we can look at the past, but we just can't "dwell" there. To "dwell" in the Hebrew is to abide, to root, to settle, to remain. Doesn't sound like a suggestion to me...when God says it, it's settled...it's a command! "Forget....don't dwell." Then....
Have faith for today. 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, "..now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." Don't make Martha's mistake. When her brother Lazarus died, she called for Jesus to come. She had faith for yesterday because of the miracles she had seen Jesus do. If she didn't, she wouldn't have called Him. She had faith for the future....when Jesus told her that her brother would rise again, she said, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." (See John, Chapter 11) Faith for tomorrow...not today. God's mercies are new every morning. ( Lamentations 3:22-23) Yesterday's mercy will not work today. Tomorrow's mercy will not work today. His mercy if for whatever you face TODAY! God heals..today. God is our provider...today. God is our strength...today. He is everything we need and is able...today! Whatever you are facing, God could answer your prayer...today!!
Prepare for the future. Build a solid foundation. Jesus said that it is the wise man who hears His words and puts them into practice. He is like the man who built his house upon a rock. When the winds and the rain beat against his house, it did not fall. It had a sure foundation.(See Matthew 7) Build your life on the solid rock of Jesus Christ and His word. The house was built on the solid foundation before the storm came. Preparations are made for war when there is still peace. Prepare now for what lies ahead. There will be good days and bad days in 2006. Jesus made us the promise that in this world we will have trouble. Guaranteed, my friend, it will come. You must be prepared ahead of time to get the victory in the future. Read His word. Memorize His word. Renew your mind and think like God thinks, so that when that old lizard dressed in drag, the devil, attacks and tells you lies, you can fight back with the mighty shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. You can fight back with the truth that you have already learned in the good times. Get your armor on now (See Ephesians 6). It will be too late when the trouble is here. The successful Christian is ready at all times and attracts the attention of the unsaved by his responses to adversity. A calm, peaceful demeanor, void of panic, is a true witness of the power of Christ and His word residing in your spirit. Done consistently, the unsaved will want to know what you've got that they don't. And then you will be able to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3: 15) So preparation is just not for your benefit but perhaps for the benefit of others who don't know the Lord.
The good news is that while we may face trouble in 2006, God's promises for the future are for us too. Remember, He has a plan for your life. He says so in Jeremiah 29:11. He has plans for a future and a hope. For you. Things for you to accomplish. Blessings for you to receive. Favor to shine on you like the sun. Believe for better things this coming year. Remember that in Haggai 2:9 God said, "The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house". Remember Isaiah 43:18? The next verse after God tells us not to dwell in the past says, "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Believe God for the coming year. I have felt in my spirit for some time now that this is going to be the year of the Lord's favor for those who are trusting Him and believing Him with all their hearts. I'm believing for big things in 2006. Why not? My God is a big God! This is your year...I'm not sure who this is for...but it's your year!! Set your face like flint. Believe God to be the God of the impossible. The God who loves you more than you can ever fathom. And "strain toward what is ahead" (Phil 3:13) as our opening verse says. Straining means stretching, pushing, reaching. It won't always be easy. Keep looking forward. You can't look back and walk forward at the same time. Go ahead, try it...can't do it. Forget the past...believe for today and have bright hope for tomorrow. I will continue as I have in the past to keep you in my prayers for a safe, healthy, prosperous and wonderful New Year even as your soul prospers (See 3 John 2) and you grow closer and closer to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Until next week,