Welcome A Year Of Newness

As we enter into the New Year, a culmination of feelings ensue, from joy, to trepidation, to expectation as we welcome a year of newness and more often than not, the ever residing hope that this coming year will be a year of positive and lasting change. Some people like to focus on the close of the departing year, whilst others look towards setting goals for the new and reestablishing their definition of success. Whatever one’s measure of success may be, the observance of Godly principles such as righteousness, obedience and faithfulness are areas that we must seek to examine and review as channels for …. In and amongst our annual review, we have a tendency to hone in on areas requiring some degree of change. Common areas include the overall health of our spiritual walk, our emotional and physical health, the standard of our relationships and the direction of our careers. But what about other areas that are extremely practical, yet receive much less attention? I’m referring to determining how we’re going to face difficulties. With all of the goal setting and forward thinking, what if our well planned goals don’t quite go according to plan? What if unexpected circumstances shake the foundations of our faith? James Christiansen said “The purpose of Christianity is not to avoid difficulty but to produce a character adequate to meet it when it comes. It does not make life easy, rather it tries to make us great enough for life.” We tend not to think along the lines of difficulty or unexpected circumstances but maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing? Especially if it will increase the likelihood of us persevering with fortified faith as opposed to stumbling with faltering faith. There’s such familiarity with Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares The Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Here, in a letter, Jeremiah is writing to the Israelites, encouraging them to adjust to their lives in Babylon and more importantly, to keep moving, in spite of their affliction. He encourages them to settle in the land, to pray for the people of Babylon and their pagan lifestyles and to seek prosperity. The instruction to “pray for prosperity” is such an unexpected notion due to the nation of Israel being forced to reside in conditions of exile. The Biblical principle that we can draw from this is to trust in The Lord’s sovereignty, to stay connected by praying diligently… “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares The Lord. Jeremiah 29:12-14 … to not give up due to fear and/or uncertainty but to trust in His perfect and permissive will. In doing this, we’re accepting His version of His plan for our lives, instead of trying to force our own “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares The Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” The knowledge and wisdom of The Lord is infinite. Our perceived knowledge and wisdom pales in comparison, it’s finite and limited to the confines of our mind and level of perspective. In the event that we’re faced with uncertainty in this coming year, take a moment to ponder the following as uncharted waters are navigated: How might The Lord be using this season to build a component of my character? How might The Lord be using this season to develop my understanding of His character? Could this season be preparing me for a future role that I may have within ministry or might the experience provide future opportunities for me to minister to others? Is The Lord testing my heart or readiness for the next season? Can The Lord trust me with navigating this season well by leaning into Him and learning The Biblical principles that He intends for me to learn? Can this season be used to develop a character that has the ability to receive a channel of peace at all times as commitment to the convictions of The Holy Spirit stir from within? Processing antagonistic situations or even people doesn’t always feel that simple; but there’s an imperative… is one armed? Spiritually calibrated? What has been spiritually put on? As Paul outlines in Ephesians 4; truth, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, gentleness, unity, humbleness and patience. What did one spiritually take off? Again, in Ephesians 4, Paul takes us through a number of things that symbolize the old man that we need to take off. Anger, falsehood, bitterness, rage, impurity, greed, idolatry. The old man. The putting off and placing on of such components of character are all factors that enable us to think in the way The Lord wants us to think and respond in the way that He wants us to respond. Paul, when he was writing to the Chrisitans at Philippi, wrote “Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me - everything you heard and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Phillipians 4:9. NIV My prayer is that as we enter into this new year, that we exercise a commitment to maintaining a perspective that enables and fuels a lifestyle where we stick to the ancient paths, as outlined in His word, regardless of what the world is doing, as instructed in Jeremiah 6:16, to “stand in the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it…” that we obey the imperatives, the things that have been identified, for us to do and cling onto the hope that lies in the indicative, the promise, “...and you will find rest for your souls”. All of which comes as a result of obeying the initial command, indicated previously. I’m praying nothing but the best for all of the readers of The Good News and beyond and if the circumstances seem to be less than desirable, that we will exercise the best character, to counteract the influence of the circumstance.