January 1, 2016

Three Encouragements for 2016

As the New Year dawns, some of us are flush with enthusiasm about what the next 366 days may bring, and how we might make new strides, form new habits, and tackle new ventures. Others of us are, perhaps, already beginning to feel the crush of the workload that lies ahead. For, on Monday, the curtain falls on the holidays, and we all go back to normal. But whether you look forward to 2016 with enthusiasm, or with trepidation, or even with just a bad case of the blahs … there is reason, in the character of God, to look forward in hope! Indeed, can I show you just three biblical encouragements for the New Year?

1. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). 2016 will certainly bring its fair share of change; of new; of different – sometime happily so, and sometimes not. But the one constant is the Lord. Just as He was with you in 2015, through the good times and the bad; just as He answered prayer in the year just passed; just as He has been willing, in Christ, to forgive sin after sin for the previous 52 weeks … He will remain just the same for all 366 days of this new calendar year! He has been “our dwelling place in all generations” (Psalm 90:1). And He will be, again, in 2016 … “and forever.”

2. “The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23). It’s true that God’s character and commitments are always the same. But those old commitments lead to new compassions each and every day! Each day God provides sufficient grace to get you through that day. Each morning He spreads your table anew. And, with the setting of every sun, ends another day in which the Holy Spirit has ordered your steps. And if that is true of every day, then it is true of this entire new year on which we are embarking. God’s compassions will be laid out for you this year, like manna – fresh every morning! There will be new grace for each and every day! And that is reason to go forward in hope!

3. “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). If you belong to Christ, then you can be sure that the new compassions of every day are not the hurried provisions of a God who is just trying to get you through to the weekend. No! The daily provisions and the yearly guidance are all a part of a larger plan in which God knows exactly what He is doing with you, and where He is taking you, and what He is making you. And not only does He know these things, but He is infallibly working them out in your life! And so the daily grace that He gives is all adding up to something, just according to the Father’s plan! And the days when all that grace seems to do is to allow you to hang on by the skin of your teeth? Even then God is faithfully connecting all the dots to make you more like Jesus! He will perfect His work … and each of the 366 days in this New Year will be a part of that wise and certain purpose.

So take heart! 2016 holds great promise – not that all will turn up roses, but that God Himself will be ever constant; that His compassions will be ever new; and that, in Christ, your life is headed where He would have it go, even when you seem to have lost all sense of direction in the fog. “He who began a good work in you will perfect it” all throughout the coming year, and all the way “until the day of Christ Jesus.”

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