It’s a new year and I know that many are excited. For the follower of Christ we know the scriptures that teach “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NIV). The quality of the year is not evaluated by our new year plans and promises. Rather its quality is determined at the end when we look back and see if we lived the life we ought to have lived. The end is better than the beginning. Therefore Solomon in Ecclesiastes compels us to choose patience and not pride. Every born-again believer needs to know the following this new year 2016:
- The calendar date changed, not your heart.
A change in date has no correlated bearing on a change in any bad behaviour. The excitement of a new year and the resolute feeling that we need to be better this year can fool us that our hearts have changed. However like previous years, by March we will be burnt out only to realize we were running on adrenaline and dopamine. Paul the Apostle told the Ephesian church to PUT OFF the sinful man and to PUT ON the godly man. It’s like a change of clothes and it is done intentionally. How? By spending time imbibing and practising God’s written word, the Bible. Add that to your 2016 bucket list. The word of God challenges our prideful and fearful heart. It belligerently assails our hypocrisy. It mutilates our laziness and gives us a pure motive to live for Christ. The many “This is your year” or “This is your season” messages are all hogwash if they do not involve obedience to God’s Holy Spirit and rejecting of sin and it’s company. If you want a change of heart, look not to the calendar but to the Giver of days on the calendar.
- God doesn’t owe you a blessing simply because it’s a new year.
Many professing believers are waiting with bated breath for God to drop that late gift he owes them. In fact many believe that on account of them being “good” people in 2015, God will now reward them. They even probably have a mental list: “God, I went to church, I visited an orphanage, I gave my tithe twice and did many more good things. Now you have to bless me!” If you examine carefully that is the same train of thought in kids who believe in Santa Claus. You examine your “noble” life and only see it fit for a blessing. And like the kids waiting on Santa Claus, adults waiting on God like this are not motivated by love; they are motivated by pride and fear. Pride because they believe themselves worthy of God’s goodness. Fear because they are afraid all those good deeds and sacrificed bad deeds can’t go down the drain without profit. Their surface acts look righteous but their motives are selfish and impure. Adults who make a Santa Clause out of God do not know God. They need to be genuinely born-again. Beloved, you are not waiting on God; God is waiting on you. A blessing is not a wage or an entitlement. For the one who is born-again, the word is clear in 1 John 2:15-16: Die to the lusts of the flesh, die to the cravings of sinful man and die to the pride of life if you want to experience his blessings. A blessing is the fruitful reaping of living a humble and obedient life. A person who demands God’s blessings and who believes God owes them for the pain of last year is arrogant, unteachable and has nothing but frustration lined up for them unless they are humbled.
- Resolutions make you accountable not capable
Making a resolution or a goal does not make you capable of achieving it; it only makes you accountable to achieving it. Put your faith to action, Beloved, otherwise it is dead. Believers ought not fall in the same pit as those that promise but never follow through. See what the scriptures say about that.
“If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth.” Deuteronomy 23:21-23 (NIV)
When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 (NIV)
- Opposition is not always a bad thing
For those loving the LORD and called according to his purpose, as you walk with him you will be convinced that all things eventually work for your good and to conform you into the image of Christ. Challenges that oppose us grow us and make us more dependent on God. When your skillset level is greater than your challenge, you grow bored and complacent. When your skillset level is lower than your challenge, you become frustrated. However when your skillset matches your challenges then something magical happens. You grow. You stretch and develop new muscles. God brings challenges our way in order to grow our character, our faith and our zeal for righteousness. The devil also brings challenges but his motive is destruction. God tests; the Devil tempts. God doesn’t give us an assignment and look forward to us failing the test. He wants us to pass the test and develop to be mature people able to handle bigger things. The Devil on the other hand gives you a trial and waits anxiously for you to falter and fumble. He wants to steal, kill and destroy but Christ wants to give life and life in abundance (John 10:10). However whether the challenge is from God to build you or a temptation from the enemy to kill you we can be sure of two things.
For God’s tests know this:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him (Jesus) who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV) parenthesis my own
For the Devil’s trials know this:
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
- Lastly, feelings are a poor source of direction
Sin always lines up with how you feel and consequently exacerbates poor choices. Godliness always lines up with what you KNOW from God’s word and consequently promotes wise decisions. Beloved, let truth from the scriptures be your source of convictions instead of fickle and fleeting feelings. If you take advantage of the good times and invest in knowing the scriptures and applying them, then you will stand when the bad times come. The investing in the Word of God in the good times is akin to digging a deep and secure foundation for a house when the weather is fair. You then build your house and live in it. When the storms of the bad times roll out, your house stands; you remain sober and wise because you have an unshakeable foundation. God’s word is that unshakeable foundation.
For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:24-25 (NIV)
The word of God will build convictions that will parry deception when you get emotional. These convictions will keep you afloat when (not if) the floods of life come. They will keep you hoping against all hope when (not if) hopelessness strikes. They will keep you standing when everyone gives up. Remember this Beloved: It is a question of WHEN and not IF. The convictions WON’T STOP THE FIRE FROM COMING; BUT THEY WILL MAKE YOU FIREPROOF. No one avoids the fire. We all get it. But not everyone lives through it. When you get emotional, you lose focus on truth and believe only what you feel. Beloved, it’s time to believe what you KNOW and not trust what you feel. And God is not a man to lie in his word.
“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” Numbers 23:19 (NIV)
Happy new year from the Wamboye family