Looking To A New Year
The new year is always a time of reflection and that's a good thing. Look at things that went well, consider those for whom you have been praying and ask God to continue His sanctification and the things that need to be changed.
I was thinking about some of my "big" personal moments this year, where God met me in a special way in special times of need.
My Biblical influences this year:
1) The Apostle John. The writings of John have been a big influence on me since before I came to Romania. God takes things from John's life and writing, and shows me how to apply them personally. He is taking me from being the disciple who wanted to "call down fire," to the disciple who, at the end of his life, said ,"Beloved, I give you a new commandment, that you love one another." That's not an easy thing. You are often given lots of testings, like people cutting in front of you in line and when you drive (Cluj has crazy, crazy traffic!). I just keep praying, "God, help me get an 'A' on this test; I don't want to keep re-taking it!"
2) Jehoshaphat. Verses of encouragement show the beauty of absolute surrender and worship when the battle/enemy is too great. Also, when things are going good, don't turn your heart to wrong places...keep the course.
3) Deborah. I think she is the most misunderstood/misinterpreted woman in the Bible. Oh, that I would be "that" woman of God who speaks His words and is entrusted. That I would be the woman my husband wants at his side in the battle, not because I can fight well (I can, but only verbally...), but because he knows that I am so near to God that I hear His voice and can be trusted.
Maybe 2015 wasn't the best of years for some of us. Maybe there were things we wish we had done better or had a chance to go back and do-over. Praise God, His mercies are new every morning and Great is His Faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23). Join me in praising God that He is the God of redemption, "fresh starts," "do-overs." All we have to do is come humbly to Him and surrender. That can happen ANY time, not just "New Years." Most times that is easier said than done. I know I like to work it out in my head...over and over and over...and sort it out. But it's better to quickly take it all to Him and leave it there!
Don't give up. Keep your eyes on Jesus, "the author and perfecter of your faith." Take it one day at a time, one step at a time. Just as Peter, in the midst of the storm, kept his eyes on Jesus and not the storm raging around him. As long as his eyes were on Jesus he was able to walk on water (miraculous behavior). I love that Jesus always extended His hand out to Peter.
Have a PLAN. The best fought wars were won because there was a plan and preparation. The U.S. military has been one of the finest forces because they train, train, train. When your battle gets heavy, remember who you serve and surrender to His leading.
Develop a plan for your time with the LORD. Plan to have moments in your day when you are alone with Him. Have a plan in place for reading the Bible every day. I promise you, I have to put these "plans into place myself or I will set myself up for failure. I have my Bible reading plan for the year and I asked God to speak a special verse to me for this New Year.
Last Year it was James 2:13b, "...mercy triumphs over judgment." I can't tell you how many situations He put me in where He kept having me exercise being merciful over being judgmental (and just "being quiet," - yeah, a real challenge for me!)
This coming year He wants me to focus on "Love" more than anything. Love is an action, not just a word. It's a state of "being." I am sure I won't always get it right, but my heart longs to choose love over all. It is, after all, the greatest gift (I Corinthians 13:13). So...my verse for 2016: I John 3:18b..."let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." For me, this begins with quickly forgiving offenses and dying to self (ouch!).
"Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead; I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us, therefore, as may as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained." Philippians 3:12-16
by Coleen Jejeran, missionary to Romania