Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 18 Number 1 January 2016
Page 5

A New Year

Robert JohnsonA New Year is always a good time to pause for reflection. I remember years ago my best friend and I figuring up how old we’d be when the year 2,000 would arrive, and we wondered if we’d ever live that long, and what we would be like if we did. Happily, we both made it to that milestone and beyond. What seemed so long away then doesn’t seem that far back now.

However, it does give one the opportunity to realize that with each passing year we draw closer to the time when our days here will end, and we become part of eternity. What seemed like at the time to be an endless supply of days in the future, now grows fewer and fewer. However, I should have realized even then, there is no guarantee on the number of days we have, even in our youth. As James reminds us, we are a vapor or mist that is here for a little while, and then vanishes away (James 4:14).

So, how does all this affect one’s perspective for a New Year? We should realize how important the number of our days are and live each day for the One who provides them to us. While we all have a life to live, it’s the height of selfishness to let each day pass by without considering God’s will for our lives for each day. He is both the Giver and Sustainer of our existence. Paul tells us, “For if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8). From beginning to end, life is a gift from God, and while we have the choice on how to live that life, it is foolish to live as if today will never end—to live solely for self and not for God.

For the Christian, Paul emphasizes the role faith is to play in our lives. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, But the righteous man shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17). From the time we obey the Gospel to the time we depart this physical existence, we are to live by faith. Living by faith is not doing what I please to do, but what the Father pleases for me to do.

When we live by faith, we allow God to mold and shape us in His image, to fill us with His blessings for life today, as well as prepare us for life eternally. This means considering what God’s will is in all our decisions and our choices, and making sure this is what is operative as the motive of our hearts in those choices. If God’s will is not part of consciousness in our lives, then we will receive input from various sources around us, which will be influenced by sin. We must get ourselves out of the way to allow God His part in us, to renew us in His image. This is what Paul did himself; “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).

By making a conscious choice for God, we can have a great New Year, no matter the number of days we may have! We will have an abundant life in Christ (John 10:10), one strengthened by the Lord to face whatever comes our way (1 Corinthians 10:13). We will experience the fullness of His blessings, and be a blessing to those around us. We will have confidence that, no matter what happens in the world around us, we have the promises of God for eternity to cheer us, encourage us and motivate us. This New Year may be the best of years, or one not so great from a physical perspective, but it’s always great to be in the Lord. Our challenge isn’t to look just at the number of years for this life, as I did in my youth, but beyond to eternity. The best is yet to be!


Remember

Royce PendergrassIn this New Year, we need to look back to the years gone by and learn lessons from them. Sometimes people caution us to never look back, but that would be disastrous because if we didn’t look back, we would never realize or admit the mistakes we made. We should rather want to look back to remember things we didn’t do right or things we should have done better. Hopefully, we can look back and find satisfaction in knowing that we admitted the mistakes and did our best to correct them. God expects us to do that.

In His Law to the children of Israel, we read God’s instructions to them to “remember all the way which the Lord God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble and prove you and to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commandments” (Deuteronomy 8:2). From this, we see that God not only intends for His people to look forward, but He also expects them to look back so that they may learn from what has happened in the past. In other words, God’s intent is that we learn from our mistakes and become better people in His service. Frequently when we ask someone about something or talk about something that happened, we hear, “I can’t remember.” A good deal of this lack of remembering comes from the aging process when our minds become more limited, and they are so full of things from the past. However, even young folks can’t remember everything. Let’s look at some things we truly need to remember.

In the Old Law, the people were instructed to “Remember you were bondmen in the land of Egypt and the Lord redeemed you” (Deuteronomy 15:15). Paul repeated this to the early Christians in Hebrews 13:3; “Remember those that are in bonds as bound with them and those who suffer adversity as yourselves being also in the body.” Those who don’t know Christ today are still in spiritual bonds (that is, bound to Satan and sin), and it is our duty to do what we can to help them learn and remember the Christ Who died for them.

Christians must always remember to help those who are less fortunate than they are. “I have shown you how that laboring you ought to support the weak and to remember the words of the Lord how he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35). There is so much pain and suffering in the world, and it is a Christian’s duty to do what he or she can to help alleviate that. We can’t all be missionaries and go to foreign countries that need relief, but we have those close by who need help. We must do what we can to reach out to them, particularly doing what we can to teach them the Gospel.

In Jude 17-18, we read, “Beloved, remember the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how they told you there would be mockers in the last time who would walk after their own ungodly lusts.” Peter took this thought to the next level as he said, “There shall come scoffers in the last days, walking after their own lusts and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4).

Christians must remember the promises of God. Paul told Titus that “We should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13). Everyone should remember that, at the Judgment, every person will be “judged according to his works” (Revelation 20:13). Please remember and never forget that the only thing that can bring a good outcome at a sure Judgment is to “Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Always remember that man was put here by God for that purpose!


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