This month’s Pastor’s Perspective is delivered by Pastor Mark Bethea of First Baptist Church Montgomery
New Year’s Day arrives alongside a wellspring of optimism and anticipation for all that could happen in a new year. We make new resolutions, throw away old calendars, set lofty expectations, and look forward to a new year. It’s a time to plot and plan for where we want to end up on December 31, 2022.
On the last Sunday of 2019, I preached a sermon entitled Help and Hope for a Bright 2020! As I looked at those sermon notes on my screen, I couldn’t help but chuckle at how naïve it sounds in retrospect. But it was also a sobering reminder of how uncertain the days are. We couldn’t have possibly known on December 29 of 2019 as we gathered for a final worship gathering the rollercoaster we would all experience in 2020.
The same is true as we enter a new year in 2022. Colossians 1:9-14 is an instructive place to find wisdom walking into an unknown year.
Paul writes: And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
There are a few key points to draw out amidst the wellspring of sound truth.
1. Prayer is of instrumental value.
Begin your new year on your knees, praying for the Lord’s clear guidance and wisdom in all that you come to in this new year. Pray for clarity in following the Lord’s call on your life and that you’d have the strength, patience, and willingness to follow wherever He would lead you. Pray for your walk with the Lord, but also the needs of those around you. Neglecting the privilege of prayer is a grave misstep in the life of the believer.
2. Take the next step of obedience.
Each day presents a fresh opportunity to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord by faithfully being obedient to God’s authority in your life. Each action, attitude, decision, and opportunity is laden with opportunity to trust in the Lord. We don’t wait until December 2022 to start walking with the Lord. Each day and in every way, we follow Jesus. Decide each day to take the next right step of obedience no matter how small or large the opportunity in front of you appears. Simply follow Jesus in every way, and we will look back at the end of 2022 with great joy at where the Lord has taken us.
3. Look to the Lord for His strength and endurance.
At the risk of sounding pessimistic, we will have challenges in the new year. As much as we all wish life would be devoid of pain, sorrow, and hurt, we live in a fallen world. As we meet trials and struggles of various kinds, we look to the Lord for his great strength, peace, and endurance. Lean on the Lord and cast your anxieties on Him, remembering that He cares for you!
4. Purpose our hearts toward gratitude.
We make a choice to rejoice and give thanks for all the Lord has done, is doing, and will do. Colossians 1:14 reminds us He has done the miraculous work of our salvation. That alone should cause endless thanksgiving from our hearts. In this new year, purpose to be ever more thankful for all that God has and is doing in and around you.
May the Lord bless you as you walk with Him into 2022!