How often have you heard, or even said, “Happy New Year” in recent days? This is the usual greeting as we enter a new year. 2021 is making its entry in unprecedented times, with many unknowns. As believers in the Lord, our faith will be tested and our trust in Him is essential. I pray a fruitful new year for you regardless of the external circumstances. We have within us joy which is unspeakable (I Peter 1:8), as well as peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). These divine qualities are to be demonstrated to a lost and dying world.
2020 was an extremely difficult year, but the Word of God encourages us to not look back:
“No one after putting his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God.”
“Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”
With ‘not looking back’ in mind, I want to encourage you with some thoughts and Scriptures for the new year that has been meaningful to me. The first thought is the presence of the Lord; to practice and be more aware of His presence. We need to go beyond just quoting verses, such as Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” What is needed is to experience His presence. When Moses was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt into the land of Canaan, he said to the Lord, “If Thy presence does not go with us, do not lead us from here” (Exodus 33:15).
In Psalm 27:4, David cried out: “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” The house of the Lord contained His presence—we are the temple of the Lord.
Another verse that has become meaningful to me is John 8:29 where Jesus spoke: “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that please Him.” While this verse speaks of the presence of the Lord, it also defines a way of life. Who among us would not want to live a life that pleases the Father?
Apostle Paul who was formally Rabbi Saul, was a man who lived his life to please God. His conversion was dramatic. On the road to Damascus a light from heaven shone about him and a voice from heaven spoke to him, “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting Me?” Saul asked, “Who art Thou Lord?” The voice responded, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” Saul immediately asked (KJV), “Lord what would You have for me to do?” Saul put the You of Jesus before the me of Saul; and his life was never the same. What greater way is there to please the Lord than to say, “Lord, what would You have for me to do?”
The personal application of the Word of God has become more meaningful to me this past year. I was saved as Art Katz was reading Isaiah 53 to my father-in-law. I knew as he read that Jesus was my Messiah, the Son of God and the Savior of the world. This past year, I personalized the Scriptures as I read, for example: Isaiah 53:3: “But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and by His stripes we are healed.” I now read it this way: “You were wounded for my transgressions; You were bruised for my iniquities; the chastisement of my peace was upon You; and by Your stripes I am healed.” My life is being more deeply transformed. I encourage you to apply the Word of God personally in your life.
“May you walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”
II Corinthians 13:14