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It’s normally as the year ends and a new year begins that we start thinking about all the things we want to do in the coming year. We make our big plans and bold to-do lists of all the achievements and goals we want to accomplish in the coming year (any planners here?)…
But as I think back over 2020 with the grand plans I had made for my own life and then remember how many were stunted or had to change, it has made me feel hesitant and a little nervous to make plans for 2021.
Anyone else relate?
This last year has unsettled us all and it may be the first time in decades where so many people sit at the start of the New Year seriously confronted with the realisation that, in our own human capacities, we really have no idea what tomorrow will bring.
God is all knowing, and that is what matters. He knows what tomorrow will hold. He knows everything we have been through and everything we will go through. As followers of Christ we do not need to fear when trouble comes along because we know that our hope is in God who surmounts all circumstances that we may face in this world.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people” – Ephesians 1:18
A part of me would love to tell you that 2021 will be better than 2020, but I can’t tell you that as none of us can know. But perhaps that is the wrong thing to be hoping for anyway…
Although it may feel like a difficult pill to swallow, we are not guaranteed an easy life in this world and that’s because it is fallen and sinful. But, God is SO good and all powerful. God alone in His infinite knowledge can take a situation that was planned for harm or evil, and reshape it like moldable clay to allow good to prevail as a result. For instance, think of some of the most prominent lessons that you have learned in life that made you into a stronger and more resilient person. Were those lessons learnt in easy times when everything was comfortable and you had excess, or did you learn those lessons in times that were particularly challenging for you?
If we think about the verses of James 1:2-4 which says “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 become mature and complete, not lacking anything” it shows us that we really can carry joy within our hearts regardless of the circumstances that we face in our lives, and that is because of who God is and what He can do with any situation.
As we start this New Year, perhaps we should shift our perspective and desires. Instead of wishing for a new year that is simpler and more prosperous than the previous year, what would it look like for us to go into 2021 with our hearts positioned asking God to use any situation that we may face, to build resilience in us and shape us into the people that He intended for us to be?
Although our goals and activities are really important, God is more concerned about our beliefs, character and convictions than our to-do lists.
So let’s use this time to grow deep roots that are planted in God’s Word and truth and become people who carry God given peace through all seasons of life. Women who truly are the salt and light to the communities around us.
As we look forward to 2021, here are five resolutions that we actually need to become more steadfast in our faith, more resilient to the unknown, and more joyful as we prepare for what is to come:
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?… Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles [non-believers (in this context)] seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:26, 31-33
The Father knows what you need. He knows what is good for you and will provide those to you. He also knows to not give you the things you think you want but are actually not good for you. He knows the dreams that are written on your heart. He knows what you need in order to grow into who you are meant to be. He knows what awaits you tomorrow and what you can and cannot handle.
God holds our tomorrows in His hands, so there is no need for us to try to carry that burden alone.
So what does it look like to actually put your trust in God?
It means to believe in His reliability, His Word, His ability, and His strength. This goes beyond a feeling and is rather a choice to actively put your trust in God regardless of the circumstances that we feel surrounding us in our current position in history; and to understand that we are a part of a much bigger story that has been in motion since the very beginning. God alone will make the story play out for ultimate good to succeed.
Challenge yourself to stop being anxious about things you have no control over. God cares immensely about your concerns so pour out your heart to Him and tell Him what you are concerned about. Remember that is God who shapes your circumstances not your circumstances that shape God.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
The kind of praise I am talking about is a continuous form of praise and gratitude to God which becomes engrained as part of our daily life and is not dependent on our current view of circumstances.
Start your prayers with a time of praise, gratitude and thanksgiving as this will automatically change the direction of your prayers and will transform your prayer life. Take time periodically to just sit and worship God without asking anything of Him. Ask God daily to use any situation you are faced with to teach and mould you, and finally, have a grateful heart and thank Him throughout your day for the little things that He has done.
Yes, reading the sub-heading here may be a little scary, I promise you that this is a good one!
Scripture tells us to meditate on the Word of God continuously, to write it on our hearts and ponder on it day and night, and we see this all throughout Scripture: The Word of God is a lamp to light paths, a sharpened sword for battle, an anchor to remain steadfast in storms and more. Here are some references if you want to look them up: Colossians 3:16, Proverbs 7:3, Joshua 1:8 Psalms 1:1-2, Psalms 119:105, Hebrews 4:12; Hebrews 6:19, Proverbs 4:20-22
Though intimidating, memorisation is a super powerful way to store the Word of God within our hearts. Whereby we go beyond simply reading and studying a passage to meditating on it. To breaking it into bite size pieces and then analysing, consuming, and absorbing it so that it becomes a part of us.
When you memorise Scripture you begin to understand God’s Word on a whole new level as it becomes a part of who you are.
With that all being said, I would really like to encourage you to delve deeper into the Bible this year and Write the word of God deep within your heart by memorisation.
For me personally, I recently have memorised the book of James which was relatively short, and also happens to be one of my favourite books! It gives such practical ways to live out your faith! Since memorising it, I find myself quoting it all the time, and different verses pop to mind in various scenarios which has really been a blessing. This practice can be scary, but speaking from first hand experience, it is so worth it!
Practical Ways to Begin:
Choose a short passage with a few verses. This could be a passage holding truths about God, verses with special significance to you, verses of comfort, or truths that may help you with a specific scenario or issue you are wanting to overcome. Be mindful of the surrounding verses when choosing what you want to memorise as you don’t want to take them out of context. Read over it multiple times while slowly committing pieces to memory. As each of us are different, set realistic goals for yourself as you delve in.
What we believe about God and what He stands for has a significant influence in ALL spheres of our lives.
Our view of God is so important. It affects who we worship, our worldview, our morality, the paths we choose, how we treat others and ourselves and how we handle the different seasons of our lives. And like any person you are trying to get to know, getting to know God takes time and effort. One way you get to know someone’s character is by spending both quality and extended time with them. Through that time, you observe their ways, and when necessary ask what the intentions and heart behind their actions were. And just as this is true with people in our circles it is true with getting to know the character of God.
If we want to become more steadfast Christians and be the salt and light to those around us it would really do us good to spend more time getting to know the character of God. Only by getting to know who God is can we emulate Him, and stand for Him.
Practical Ways to Begin:
A better understanding of God can come through learning the Bible by spending time in both the Old and New Testament; finding and doing studies on God’s character, while asking God to reveal His character; opening our hearts and minds to see Him in our world around us.
If you aren’t already in one, I would definitely recommend finding a Bible study group, or starting one with some friends in 2021. As Christians it is important to be in community with fellow believers and have a place where we can delve into Scripture and learn. Having fellowship with other believers is essential but this goes beyond community time and is focused on Biblical learning.
When we study Scripture and different topics with a group of believers we can open ourselves up to stretch our understanding and learn things that we would not ordinarily delve into if we were studying alone.
Some friends of mine started a Bible study a few years ago and I think I can speak on behalf of all us who joined in saying it has been one of the most growing experiences in our walks of faith, as it has been a place to grow, study different topics and hear others interpretations and perspectives, while also being a safe space to ask our difficult and tricky questions without judgement and where we would seek answers from scripture.
In starting a Bible study, make your goal to also seek truth from Scripture, interpreting the Bible by what it says and use other passages of Scripture to interpret it, rather than using the current culture or personal feelings to guide your understanding.
Practical ways to begin: Ask around to see if there is a group that you can join, or if there aren’t use some of these article on how to start your own small group:
When we are prepared and equipped both spiritually and mentally we can become a lot more resilient and steadfast in uncertainty; in fact, I think this enables us to enjoy the good times and have greater amounts of gratitude and appreciation for them, as well as handle uncertainty and trials with steadfastness and grace.
Each of these resolutions are things you can do regardless of the situations you find yourself in, and even in a world where you may be spending more time indoors than what you were previously used to, these can be incorporated into your life by shifting priorities and making small positive daily changes to your life.
Let’s shift our focus for 2021 from an earthly perspective and set our focus on God and His heavenly calling on our lives. Let’s use this time to grow and delve deeper into God.
I pray that you will have a blessed 2021 and that you will allow God to use this year to mould you further into the person that He created you to be.
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