As we move forward into 2016, are you wondering what the New Year has in store for you? Are you looking forward to this year with big desires and big dreams? Or are you just longing for it to be better than last year? I was surprised when I recently read an article in which the writer had asked people to describe their 2015 in one word. She wrote that a few people responded with “blessed” or “productive”, but the overwhelming majority of people used words such as: “challenging, exhausting, stressful, tough, messy, ugh, sad, grief, difficult, lonely, gut-wrenching, disappointing, and broken”.
As believers in Christ, although we can relate to those words and even use them to describe situations in our lives, we are certainly not called to a life defined by any kind of negativity. The Bible tells us that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). He chose us, predestined us to adoption as sons [and daughters], redeemed us, forgave us, lavished us with His grace, made known to us the mystery of His will, has given us an inheritance, and sealed us with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:4-13). And I think that’s only a small taste of God’s goodness toward us!
But too often we become engulfed in the ways of the fallen world instead of in God’s blessings to us in Christ. As I worked on editing Pearl Hamilton’s study on Joshua this past week, I was convicted by one of her applications that challenges us in this area. The lesson was about each of the tribes of Israel receiving their inheritance in the Promised Land with joy. No one grumbled about the portion they were given but set to work appropriating their blessings. Pearl wrote:
“Do you see your life as being harder than those around you? Do you disdain your lot in life because it seems less than others have? Do you covet others' way of life, possessions, appearance, or status? Are you unwilling to make the most of what you have but willing to take what others have? Begin today to be satisfied with your God-given lot and trust God to enhance it and help you rid your life of enemy obstacles by prayer.
“As believers, we will each be held accountable at the judgment seat of Christ for what we did with what God has given us. Will you begin today to appreciate the blessings God has given you [as in Ephesians 1]. Will you take hold of His promises in the pages of the Bible and apply them to your specific situation? For example, will you tell the Lord you believe His promise to supply all your needs, to answer your prayers, to give you wisdom to know what to do, to never to leave you or forsake you, to fill you with His Holy Spirit? Will you say with me, ‘Every promise in the Book is mine, every chapter, every verse, and every line'?”
Will you take Pearl’s application to heart today and make it your guiding principle of 2016? The apostle Paul wrote that he had learned to be content in every circumstance (Philippians 4:11). With contentment comes satisfaction, with satisfaction comes gratitude, and with gratitude comes joy! May 2016 be for you a year of joy.
With love because He loved us,
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.