Happy New Year everyone!
I pray all remained safe during celebrations and travels throughout the holiday season. For the Newton...uh, Newton-White family...yes, there is a story there, but we will save that for another time. Anyway, for my family and I, 2013 held many blessings, challenges, and taught not a few lessons.
He Has Kept Us!
Rather than go into detail, I would just like to praise the one and only, true and mighty God that I serve and that looks out for me and mine. No matter the challenges along the way, the Almighty Creator of the universe has kept us yet another year. In His great mercy and kindness we have not had perfect health, but we also have not experienced many of the physical challenges and heartbreaks that many a family has to endure. Working in the ER of a hospital I can tell you, there has been much loss of life and many physical challenges in this city alone this year. I praise God that we have not had any major physical setbacks this year.
When there have been financial challenges God has made a way. Many across the country and most certainly in this city have seen all kinds of financial setbacks this year. I praise God that He knows our daily struggles before they come and that He has provided an answer that is waiting for just the moment that it is needed.
Yes, there is NOTHING too big for my God. Yes, there are NO surprises to my God. There is no one like Him. He knows the beginning from the end because He has declared it to be so(Isaiah 46:9-11). Whether good or bad in our eyes, He ALWAYS has a purpose for it and works it out for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose(Romans 8:28), even if we don't understand it or it doesn't seem so very good in the moment. TRUST HIM! He is just in all His ways and all His ways are right!(Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 18:30, Psalm 145:17)
He Has Sent Us!
There are plans on the horizon. Things that God has been building us up for that I believe are going to happen soon. There will no doubt be challenges along the way but I know my God is faithful, patient, and always on time. I strive to be patient as well, not acting before He says to, but also not hesitating when He says act. I can certainly think of times that God has laid something on my heart and I have hesitated.
My prayer is that this year I will be bolder, more obedient, and that I will grow in my faith to do and to grow as I do. I do not want to be status quo. I want this year to be full of loving submission and obedience to my God that accomplishes mighty things for His glory.
I have a goal to read through the entire bible this year. Believe it or not I have not done that. Oh I have read much of it, but never the whole thing from beginning to end. A former great preacher and author in the 1800's in England named J.C. Ryle is know for many quotes, but this one I saw today and is appropriate to the topic. He said, "Knowledge of the Bible never comes by intuition. It can only be obtained by diligent, regular, daily, attentive reading." I would agree and that is my goal. I have a plan to read the bible and another thick theological work this year in their completion and I pray God gives me the grace to do it.
I have the goal to develop my prayer life more. Not just privately but publicly for others. As I said, I work in a hospital. What greater opportunity is there to pray for the sick and needy and give God an opportunity to respond in their lives in whatever way He sees fit. God uses answered prayers to draw people in and I want to be a part of that process.
I also pray that I will be bolder in my witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ verbally in my workplace, my neighborhood, and beyond. Please pray for me that the boldness with which I speak to the truth of the gospel and peoples need for it here in this blog, would transfer to my personal walk in face to face interaction. It is much harder there, but I desire to do it. As the Apostle Paul wrote, "pray that a message may be given me and that I may speak boldly as I ought"(Ephesians 6:19, Colossians 4:4)
Last but not least, I desire to lead my family closer in their knowledge and understanding of God and His word.
God has provided opportunity and begun a work in this area. I pray that He will continue to open the hearts of my wife and children and that we will grow in grace and obedience to God as a family. There is much room for improvement among us all, most especially myself. I must grow if I am to lead effectively. Please pray to that end.
How has He kept you? How is He sending you?
Notice these questions are presumptive. You see there is no doubt that God has been involved in your life this year and He will most certainly be involved in the year to come. I want to encourage you, if you have not already, to take a little time and reflect on the year. Remember the ways that God has kept you this year. Count your blessings and recognize the areas that God has helped you to grow whether in trial and tribulation or through His many blessings. Then consider HIS purposes for you in this new year. We are not talking New Year's resolutions. I mean genuine time spent on your knees and in His word asking God what HIS PLANS are for your life this year. Rather than asking for your hearts desire, consider what HIS hearts desire is.
One thing is for certain. Two commands apply to every believer. "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Teaching them all that I have commanded you".(Matthew 28:19-20) Christ also gave this command, "You are the light of the world, a city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before all men,so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven".(Matthew 5:14-16)
Whatever else you do with your life in this year, these commands are universal. They can be included in any circumstance. They could also be summed up as they were by Jesus in this passage, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and you shall love your neighbor as yourself".(Matthew 22:36-40) Everything else we do, and that God expects of us hangs on these two commandments.
Live a life worthy of the Gospel!(Philippians 1:27) May you have a blessed and highly fruitful year in your life, for the kingdom of God and for the Glory of God!
Thanks be to God!