There isn't anyone alive who wouldn't acknowledge that 2008 has been a challenging year. Newspapers, television, radio and online outlets have constantly extolled the effects of the economy, oil prices, elections, layoffs etc. Even closer to home, there are those of us who have experienced illness, the death of loved ones and interesting turns in various relationships. To put it succinctly, there is no shortage of bad news.
As Christians however, we are taught to be a thankful and joyful people despite our circumstances, Col 3:17, James 1:2. Focusing our minds and hearts in this way will surely have an affect on how we view things. Not only will be better able to think of the glass as half full, we will be able to be grateful to God for having a glass and having something in it at all. God is our portion and gives us all things pertaining to life. He sent His son that we might have life and that more abundantly, John 10:10.
Coming to the passing of a year, one of the most common and important lines of demarcation, gives us the opportunity to count the innumerable blessings we enjoy. If there were no difficulties or challenges in our lives, it is unlikely that we would be able recognize them at all, instead, taking every good thing for granted. How has the Lord blessed you this year? How have you used those blessings to expand the borders of His Kingdom? What miracles have you been privileged to be a witness to or a part of? How has your life changed for the better?
If we can set aside time once a year to spend precious moments with the Lord and reflect on His goodness, it is a good thing. But you know how we are. Things slip. What if we could make it a part of our routine to do this daily? Now that would be a great thing. What if we kept a log of these things so that at the end of the year we suffered no memory lapse about the the things God has done and is doing in our lives and the lives of others? It is sure that this exercise will not only aid us in our Christian lives, but equip us to do the work of the Lord, 1 Tim 4:6.
Another thing that is commonly done about this time of year is to make promises, usually to ourselves, about what we plan to do in the coming year. After all, it is a time when things are new, the outlook is hopeful and the desire to do and be better is strong. It is an excellent time to put away the bad and the past and reach forward to the good and the future. Even the word "resolution" involves an earnest and determined decision. Unfortunately however, studies show that most resolutions have a shelf life of about 3 weeks.
What are we so resolute about? Most speak in terms of weight loss, quitting of bad habits, establishment of an exercise program, being a better person and other things that typically benefit the individual. As Christians, these things can actually be useful in a spiritual sense and have benefit beyond ourselves. Hebrews 12:1, 2 says,
- "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight (weight loss), and the sin which doth so easily beset us (bad habits), and let us run with patience the race (exercise program) that is set before us, looking unto Jesus (be a better person) the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
God has seen fit to allow us continued access to his manifold blessings for another year. Though it is a free gift and not one that can be deserved or earned, the Christian should not view it as one that is without obligation on our part. To be sure there are things God requires of us, but out of love and gratitude, we should go above and beyond to conduct ourselves as His children in all things. Further, we should daily seek ways to exemplify the greatest commands given to us, Matt 22:37-39.
As every day sees new blessings from our Lord, as every day grants new opportunities to reflect on the benefits of His love, everyday also reveals the privilege we have in Him to not just resolve, but to perform His will in our lives.
I therefore wish you, not just Happy New Year, but Happy New Day!
Strengthening Our Faith