It felt good to put the last box of Christmas decorations in the attic and shut the door. I love the newness of January. Every year God hands us a winter reset and we need it. Almost all of my plans for the Christmas holiday blew up and we had to make quick adjustments. I couldn’t help but think about the Janet Denison version of Jeremiah 29:11: “I know the plans I have for you,” says your mother.
Plans, especially plans that include lots of people, should be held loosely. Something will always change! But, as I sit under my new soft throw, enjoying a newly clean and organized house, and writing my first blog post of the new year, I am enjoying some new thoughts.
Same God, new year
We have a God who makes all things new, including this new year. I was thinking about last January when we were looking forward to a world with no more COVID-19. This January, we know that COVID just keeps reinventing itself. But, this new COVID doesn’t appear to be too bad. The “new thing” might actually be a “good thing” in the long run.
I love that we have an unchanging God who can change anything. God makes all things “new.”
God told the prophet Isaiah, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19). As I’ve listened and read what various people are saying about this coming year, I’m sensing a lack of hope and optimism. I’ve felt down and discouraged at times too.
This is my go-to reminder: God is not the author of discouragement.
So then, why should discouragement drive our thoughts or attitudes?
The next time you feel your hope or optimism sinking, remember what God has said: “Behold, I am doing a new thing.” He would ask the same question of us he asked of Isaiah: “Do you not perceive it?”
We need to look for God in everything. He is either the motivator or the redeemer of all that we see and experience. God is making a way for us to journey through the wilderness. He is providing for us in the desert times. And God is leading us forward to our new life, the life Jesus has prepared for us.
It’s a new year, but we still serve the same God who spoke to Isaiah. God’s message to the prophet is his message for us today: “Do you not perceive it?”
New year, same calling
God is doing a new thing and it will spring forth. But, there is an important thought for the new year. We have a culture that is increasingly unsettled with some new ideas that actually aren’t new at all. Why did God allow a virus to impact the entire world? Why has the world responded in so many different ways? Why is there so much confusion and dissatisfaction? Why do people look to politicians to fix the world instead of God?
The angst in our culture should stand in sharp contrast to the peace of God’s people. But, do we perceive “peace” in God’s people?
We have a new year, but Christians have the same calling. Peter said it this way: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
New year, same goals
January is a perfect month to hit the reset button in our lives. It’s kind of like resetting our phones to the manufacturer’s settings. What does that mean spiritually?
According to Peter, these are our goals for every new year:
- In our hearts, honor Christ the Lord as holy.
- Always be prepared to explain and defend our Christian faith and values.
- Always speak to others with gentleness and respect.
Which one of those statements stomps just a bit?
All of us who are reading Peter’s words probably have some work to do in at least one of those areas. Why does this matter?
Our unchanging God has an ever-changing family. If we live as Peter encouraged, God will have a larger family by next Christmas.
Christianity works when Christians allow God to work through their lives.
God makes all things new
God wants to reset our thoughts, our attitudes, our optimism, and our hearts. I could fumble around all day with my phone and never figure out how to do a reset. On the other hand, I can give it to an expert and watch what happens in his hands.
God makes all things new. We need to ask him, then allow him, to make us new. We need revival and restoration. We need hearts that honor Christ as holy. We need to be ready and able to offer the world an explanation for the joy, hope, and peace in our lives. We need to speak to everyone with gentleness and respect, as one sinner to another.
I want God to do a new thing in all of us so that he can do a new thing through all of us. Our culture deserves his answers, his love, and, most importantly, his eternal salvation.
God is doing a new thing.
Do we perceive it?
If we start looking around prayerfully, we will.
With joy and gratitude
My thanks to all of you who generously responded to my end of the year “ask.” We are a donor-based ministry and your offerings serve God, who makes everything possible. Thank you for caring and wanting to help. God will do “new things” through what you have given.
Praying that 2022 will be a wonderful year, with our God who continues to make all things new.