A Year of Joy :: by Holly Spate

As we wave goodbye to the year now behind us and set our gaze on the new year before us,  let’s take a moment to thank God for all our past blessings. Let’s reflect on God’s greatness and His merciful, amazing gifts of salvation, unconditional love, joy, peace, forgiveness, relationship. And, with hearts of hope, let’s step into a new year confident that the Creator of all, Almighty God, the King of Kings, has a plan and a purpose for each of our lives.

To many, the idea of a new year is associated with a fresh start…a new beginning. It’s about a new chapter…a chance to change oneself, one’s circumstances, or simply a chance to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. It’s about letting go, learning from mistakes, cherishing memories, and moving forward. It’s about forgiveness, both forgiving ourselves and forgiving others. It’s about learning from the past and, in many cases, leaving the past behind.

A new year can spring forth the feeling of something new and exciting ahead lavishing us with feelings of hope and joy, or it can bring a sense of anxiety and uneasiness concerning the unknown.

For Christians, a new year should bring a sense of joy. Why? Because an unknown future lies in the capable hands of an all loving, all knowing God. The One who knows our story from beginning to end. The same God who declared in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

The same God who said in Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

The same God who conveyed in Lamentations 3:22-25, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.”

2020 isn’t just about entering another new year; it’s about another year with Christ. Another year to become more like Him… to be His hands and feet to a lost world. Another chance to learn from mistakes, repent from past wrongs, and receive the blessings of His forgiveness and mercy. Another year to share the Good News, grow closer through studying His Word, sharing His grace, praying, and fellowshipping with other believers.

It’s a time to be reminded of the truth we all share when we come to Christ: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).

I could list verse after verse after verse concerning God’s merciful nature, His all-consuming love for His creation, and the many blessings He gives His children.

We are blessed because we have a relationship with the Savior. We are blessed because we can place our trust in the very One who created us and promises to guide and direct our every step and to illuminate our path. We are blessed because He’s the Alpha and Omega…the Beginning and the End. He knows all, sees all, and holds all. He is sovereign, faithful, and worthy of all our trust and praise.

He’s provided salvation. He continually provides, guides, and unconditionally loves us. And, He promises to prepare a place for us…a place waiting for us when we take our last breath on this earth and enter into His presence for all eternity. A place of perfection beyond our wildest dreams or imagination.

This beautiful promise is mentioned in John 14:1-3, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 goes on to say, “However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him.”

Praise God! A wonderful future awaits us. The very best is still yet to come!!

And, while we’re reminded of this beautiful promise to all believers, He also wisely sets before us important reminders as we live out our lives here on earth:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

As we meditate on these scriptures, let’s allow God to mold us, to teach us, and to work in us. Let’s give Him the praise and glory that’s due Him. Let’s make Psalm 51:10-12 our heart’s prayer for the new year: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.”

As you step into 2020, be encouraged!  Remember, your joy as a believer is not conditional. As long as you have Jesus, you have joy. And, because of Jesus, you have everything.

Happy New Year!