Soon most of us will hear “Happy New Year!” Do you look forward with excitement to all that 2014 holds or do you dread another year of pain, hurt, and disappointment? January is named after the Roman god Janus. Janus was a two-faced god with one face looking forward and the other face looking back. Many of us use January to reflect on the past and to plan for the future.
How was your 2013? For many it was a time of heart-break and suffering. Many of you had emotional upheavals that took you to the point of breaking. Some of you lost your jobs. Some of you had a marital break-up or someone you were dating turned out to be a scum-bag. Some were hurt by someone they trusted. The dreams you had on January 1, 2013 quickly dimmed in the pain that came.
Maybe life has become difficult and you sometimes wonder if you can go on. Maybe you think about dropping out or even ending your own life. You may have given up on making plans because your plans always seem to fail or be destroyed by others. You may have given up on hope for the future. You may look back at 2013 and say, “If 2014 is no better, just let my life be over.”
On the other hand, you might have had a terrific 2013. You may have received a good promotion and pay raise at work. You may have found the love of your life. You may have completed goals that made you feel special. You may be excited about 2014 being even better than 2013.
What does 2014 hold for you? Will you have a year filled with excitement or one filled with disappointment? Will the new year bring you joy or sadness? Will these next twelve months be months of prosperity or months of suffering? No one knows what the future holds. Personally, I believe asking, “What does my future hold?” is asking the wrong question.
Much more important than what the future holds is the question, “Do you know the One Who holds the future?” We tend to look at the what in life while God wants us to look at the Who in life. It does not matter what happens in 2014 if we know Who is in charge. If we know that God is the One that is in charge, then we can rest assured that He has plans for us. We can also rest assured that His plans are for our benefit and for His honor and glory.
As far as 2013 goes, it is past. We cannot change anything we did in 2013. There is much that I did in 2013 that I wish I could go back and change. There are things that I did that hurt others and things I did that were not honoring to my Lord and Savior. I wish I had the power to go back can change those things. Alas, I do not have that power. I could dwell on the past and condemn myself. I could keep looking back and become depressed. I could worry about what I did and find myself incapable of facing tomorrow. However, none of that is productive.
Paul had much in his past of which to be proud. He also had much in his past that caused shame. He could have given up and said, “I am not worthy of serving the Lord.” He did not do that. He lumped his good deeds of the past in the same dung heap where he put his negatives of the past. Paul first puts his accomplishments in the past because he has a more important goal than to rest on his laurels. He desires something more than praise.
Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
After he put his good deeds on the dung heap, he goes on to say he puts all his past in the past so that he can keep moving towards the goal. That goal is to be like Christ and to be with Him.
Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
His greatest desire in life is to be like Christ. He knows that God takes all the circumstances of life—good and bad (humanly speaking)—and makes them work together so that he may grow into the image of Christ. He wants to look and act so much like Christ that men and women will be drawn to the One he serves.
Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
The important thing about 2014 is that you allow God to work in and through you for His honor and glory and for your good. Allow Him to use all the circumstances of your life to mold you into the image of Christ. Set as your goal for 2014 to grow in your likeness to Christ and you won’t be disappointed. Peter urges us to grow more and more like Christ.
II Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Sometime in January read the biblical story of Joseph (Gen 37-50). If Joseph looked at life the way most of us did, he would have spent his time complaining that God was not faithful. He would have given up hope. However, in Genesis 50 we learn that Joseph looked at life through the eyes of God. Instead of holding a grudge against his brothers for what they had done to him, he saw the hand of God at work in his life.
Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
All that Joseph had gone through was at the hand of God in order to save Joseph’s family and thus the family that Jesus would be born into. Humanly speaking, if Joseph had not been thrown into the pit, Christ would not have been born. Think about that. If God had not taken Joseph into slavery, the Jewish nation would have perished. The Promise One would not have been born. We would still be dead in our trespasses and sins. It was through the suffering of Joseph that we have been blessed. It was through pain that the Joy of the World came.
In 2014, then something you consider negative happens, ask yourself, “How is God going to use this for His honor and glory and for my good?” Then praise God that He is in control and that He has a wonderful plan for your life. Look for His hand at work and seek to find what He is doing in and through you.
Jeremiah 29:11 says For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to bless and not destroy, plans to give you hope for the future.
May you have a blessed 2014!!