Peace be with you! John 20:26
Happy New Year! I was so excited when I woke up just last week on January 1, 2017 because I know Our Lord is still on the throne! Not only that, but He is leading the way. He is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords and, regardless of what some think, all power remains in His hands!
We survived. 2016 was a tremendously hard year for many of us. There were a multitude of unexpected, unwanted or uninvited experiences, losses, occurrences that threw many of us for a loop…or left us loopy for a bit. But praise God we can leave the baggage of 2016 behind! We can empty our bag with great anticipation of this New Year God has blessed us to see.
It’s a new day, with new opportunities; it’s a new year, “God’s mercies are new every morning: great is His faithfulness!” The Lord is bringing with Him new benefits, “He will daily bear our burdens," (Psalm 68:19). So for 2017, let the peace of God rule in your hearts. Pastor Rick Warren says, “God has a peace for every problem we have.” So let’s search the Word for those verses, let’s learn those verses and let’s incorporate them, apply them and saturate them into our daily lives.
What peace to know that we can “Look to the hills from whence cometh our help: our help comes from the Lord,” (Ps 121:1-2). God’s words of Peace will equip and empower us to face the enemy when he attacks. Romans 8:35, 37 says, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.” These are authoritative and reliable words of peace that we can share as words of encouragement to comfort and support those who need the assurance of our Lords love and presence.
Don’t be confused about your future. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “God alone knows the plans He has for us," yet we forget it when naysayers try to tell us how they have determined our life will digress. In 2017, listen less to the criticisms of others and search the Word for who God says you are. Make God’s words your standard, your foundation and your mark of who you are. Make every effort to live in God’s peace with your goal for this year being to look, speak and live more like Jesus.
In united prayer believe that 2017 will be a year of more hope, more love and preparation for our eternal life ahead. “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus the Pioneer and Perfecter of Faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
How do we do this?
1. By recognizing that all that happens here is temporal but is necessary for our growth.
2. Find joy in spending quality time with your loved ones. That may include a decision to re-enroll in mastering the life-long study of your spouse (maybe going through the Five Love languages). Another suggestion is determining to turn off iPads, iPods and the Internet to read to, converse and interact more with your children. Give your children time and attention they can count on.
3. Live intentionally, pursuing a life of love and service. Seek out new ways to share your gifts and talents by serving in your church and community. The joy you receive from those you serve is so fulfilling and strengthening to your soul. We are blessed to bless others.
Yes, leave the harshness of whatever happened in 2016 behind but do take with you the lessons learned. Let the wisdom you garnered from experiences—as hard or as painful as they may have been—guide you. If there was spiritual growth that you acquired in 2016 let that be the first thing you repack. If there were new relationships or renewed relationships that grew wings of mercy and love let them be treasured and nurtured even more this year. It is always good to have faithful traveling companions on the road of Life. If there are other relationships that were toxic to your emotional well-being, if you had wasteful, time-consuming or financially draining habits, or ungodly behaviors that weighed down your bag it’s time for a drop-off into the Valley of No Return.
Celebrate! The Cross is empty and the Throne is filled. Jesus left the Cross to give us hope and His peace. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you.” John 14:27.