by: DALE NESSMITH
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18, 19
Ready or not, 2021 is here! All of us probably are glad to see 2020 go. Yet, much good fruit came during the past year, though not without pruning. COVID 19 locked us in our places, put masks on our faces, and kept us from church pews. Yet, with all the virus attack, along with an eruption of political corruption, 2020 brought Jesus and the cross front and center in our hearts, and provided clearer vision for our faith.
Just like last year at this time, we did not know what 2020 would be like, neither can we figure 2021 out in advance. We can live it out though! God tells us that as our days are so shall our strength be. Since we have figured out that we are weak and prone to fall away from God, we know that we must depend on His strength to get us through the new year. And, it doesn’t matter what we want it to be like, how many things we want to change, or the answers for all our “whys,” what we need is to sit down and settle our souls with the strong consolation that God is in charge of the new year.
“My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.” Psalm 31:15
Although we do not know what to expect in 2021, we do know what to accept. To accept means to confirm or agree with a situation or circumstance. The Lord Jesus in Luke chapter four and verses eighteen and nineteen tells us that there are a lot of problems in the world and a lot of people who are hurting and need help. Yet, through all the darkness and dismay, there is the light of day. There is hope for the poor, there is healing for the hurting, there is freedom for the captives, there is sight for the blind, there is therapy for the bruised; His name is Jesus! God doesn’t always take our problems away, but He is faithful to provide all we need to get through the sticky places of life.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” I Corinthians 10:13
Jesus reminds us that while loss and disappointment are realities of life on earth, God’s sustaining Spirit and Holy Word are too. So maybe instead of being fearful and frantic, we should accept the new year with much optimism and hope. After all, we just celebrated the birthday of the one who promises to carry us and everything the new year may bring, on His shoulders. I do believe that following Jesus will be easier in 2021 than it was in 2020, although we’ll still desperately need Him to hold our hand in order for us to do it pleasingly. One reason it will be easier is that we got a tinge of self-denial in 2020 as a result of COVID precautions instigated by the CDC and government. If we start the new year with our minds set on following Jesus, then it will be easier to accept the new year, whatever it may bring. The best new year’s resolution a Christian can make is to follow Jesus! That way when we get in a tight place, we’ll already be close to the one who will help us make it through.
As we begin the new year, let’s remember that it is the “year of the Lord.” Not only did the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ change the world’s heart and direction, it changed the calendar too; from BC to AD. AD is an abbreviation of Anno Domini, which means “year of the Lord.” So, when the scripture says “This is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it,” it implies approaching the new year with the same attitude, for years are made up of days. BC means before Christ. I don’t like to think of my life before Christ. A life before Christ is dark and hopeless, filled with selfishness, lust, and senseless seeking for a peace that can’t be found in the world. When the Lord saves us by His grace, at the moment of our new birth, our BC changes to AD, for we are the Lord’s; His pur- chased possession.
“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, ac- cording to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversa- tion in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved). Ephesians 2:2-5
This new year may be the year our Lord returns to earth! Jesus is coming soon though no one knows exactly when. We know that it will be a cloudy day and that His first stop is Jerusalem. 2021 may be the year more people turn to the Lord than ever before. This could be the year we see our children rejoice in the Lord and follow Him. And, it may be the year we see ourselves as wretched sinners and cry out to Jesus for salvation. Or maybe repentance is manifest in churches and homes, and in our own hearts in this new year of our Lord.
Things might be worse this year than it was last year too! Nevertheless, whatever comes either God has to cause or allow. It’s His year, and this is His universe and He can do with it
what He deems best. We are the sheep of His pasture though, and the Great Shepherd will never forsake us, even if we go through the valley of the shadow of death. God is not only the God of the mountains, he is also the God of the valleys. Actually, it is true that when life gets worse, Jesus gets better. And we can be sure that if 2021 brings us down to nothing, God is up to something. A miracle happens when our strength ends and God’s begins. The “year of the Lord” will bring many miracles, given our weak and helpless state.
So, since the Lord has brought the new year to us, may we bring our gifts to Him. We may not have much gold, frankincense or myrrh, but we have faith, love and hope. And if we bring our faith, love and hope to Jesus, our attitudes and our directions will change.
“And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.” Matthew 2:12
Life is a gift from God, and what we do with it is our gift to Him. Living like we appreciate what God has done for us and given us begins with accepting our lot in life and embracing 2021 as the “year of the Lord.” Now that doesn’t mean we don’t strive to improve and practice our position in Christ — to be more like Him. What it means is we realize that God saved us to make us holy and our destination is Christlikeness and we are confident that all the events of 2021 will surely do that.
Make no exceptions in accepting the new year! It’s from God and we should look for His fingerprints on every sunset and sunrise He sends this year. May the Lord prompt us to make righteousness our resolution as we face the challenges of the new year. Even though New Year resolutions are hard to keep, there are solutions that will keep us on the right path in the year of the Lord.
Kindness means a friendly attitude toward others. Kindness is more important than wisdom, and if we can understand that, we’ll actually be wise. Every day of 2021 will present opportunities for each of us to show kindness to someone. Kindness ought to come easy to believers, because God has surely shown His kindness to us. Not only are we saved by Grace, we are also saved by kindness.
“But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Titus 3:4,5
Kindness is hard to resist, both in showing and accepting. Several years ago, while walking near my home, I saw a stray dog wandering across the field. So I picked up a small limb and threw it at the dog (please forgive me, my kindness was not kindled) to let it know it was not welcomed on my property. Would you believe that dog picked up that stick which I had thrown and brought it to me in its mouth with a wagging tail? It turned out the dog was lost from the hunters and I kindly called the phone number on the collar and arranged the reunion of the dog and owner. Dogs are said to be man’s best friend, but I say they are great kindness teachers too. There has never been a time where the need to be kind has been greater.
Whining is complaining about a circumstance or situation for which we make no effort to do anything about. God hates whining and he chastened the Israelites severely for it. When the Israelites were on the way to the promised land, they met with some challenging times. Little did they realize that God was testing them for their love for Him and their dependence and trust of Him. When the times got hard, and their comfort zones were eroded, they whined. And when they did, God heard them.
We should be aware every day of this new year that God is with us and that He is faithful to provide for us and make a way for us. Right now we ought to reflect on how God has provided for us and delivered us during the past year. That mindset will aid in setting our steps in step with Jesus in 2021.
Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12
Let's find an Ebenezer as we begin 2021.
This is not an Ebenezer Scrooge, it’s an Ebenezer joy which reminds us that since the Lord has helped us so far, He will surely get us through this year. An Ebenezer says that if God brings it to us, he will get us through it.
Get Plenty of “Sonshine.”
“Keep on the Sunny Side,” also known as “Keep on the Sunny Side of Life,” is a popular American song originally written in 1899 by Ada Blenkhorn. Ada Blenkhorn was inspired to write the Christian hymn by a phrase used by her nephew. Her nephew was disabled and always wanted his wheelchair pushed down “the sunny side” of the street.
“There’s a dark and a troubled side of life:
There’s a bright and a sunny side, too;
Tho’ we meet with darkness and strife,
The sunny side we also may view.
Tho’ the storm in its fury break today,
Crushing hopes that we cherished so dear,
Storm and cloud will in time pass away.
The sun again will shine bright and clear.
Let us greet with a song of hope each day,
Tho’ the moments be cloudy or fair;
Let us trust in our Saviour always,
Who keepeth everyone in His care.
Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,
Keep on the sunny side of life
It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way
If we keep on the sunny side of life.”
Sunshine makes all the difference! Jesus is the light of the world and in Him is no darkness at all. The solution to all our problems, the direction of all our ways, will be found when we are in the “Sonshine.” So, let’s get plenty of Sonshine in 2021. Prayer, Bible reading, worshipping Him and helping each other will keep us in the warm glow and radiant redemptive rays and enable us to accept this new year of the Lord with courage and zealous expectation.
Happy New Year! Brother Randy