What is God’s Theme for your New Year?

What is God's theme for your New Year?

During these days before another year begins, I imagine most of us are dong a bit of reflecting as well as a bit of looking ahead. Looking back has some value if we are looking at God’s faithfulness to give us encouragement for what’s ahead. But I believe God wants us to mostly be looking forward. In fact, Isaiah tells us this:

This is what the Lord says — who makes a way in the sea, and a path through surging waters, “Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 HCSB)

Hey, that’s good news! God is about to do something new in our lives! Our past doesn’t define us, nor does it define what God wants to do in us and in our lives going forward. Our enemy is an accuser, and the only things he can accuse us of is stuff in the past. Because Jesus’ righteousness covers those of us who believe in Him, God doesn’t even see those past things when He looks at us. He sees only the purity of His Son Jesus. So we can be sure if we are feeling condemnation or shame regarding past sins or mistakes, those feelings are coming from our enemy, not our loving Heavenly Father.

So no matter what the last year held, nor the years before it, this new year is a brand new slate. It is a new beginning! Will the choices we made in the past affect us this coming year? Perhaps. But only as those consequences are sifted through the hands of our Heavenly Father who only allows that which can be used for good. We can be sure that God is the One who determines the outcome of our choices, no matter what they were. And in that redemptiveness that defines the God we serve, we can rest at peace, knowing that He does all things well and out of a heart of such deep love for us that we can’t humanly comprehend.

Living in the love of our Heavenly Father

Can we trust that love so much that we look forward to the new year with total peace and joyful anticipation?

Each year I sense the Lord giving me a theme for the new year. Last year it was humility. I initially felt a little fear. “In what ways will God humiliate you?” was the thought the enemy whispered in my ear. But I quickly remembered that God is for me, not against me. Humiliation is not what He wants to give me. Rather, He wants to give me more of Himself — a deeper and broader awareness of who He is. A realization that He is far above anyone or anything else, especially me! A recognition of the amazing and abundant grace He is pouring into my life so that I extend it — no matter what another says or does against me — to everyone I encounter.

Bible reading

Because I wanted to get a firmer grasp of Who He is, I read through the Bible in chronological order in a little over three months using Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible. Each day I read a total of four days’ readings in this book and did a lot of speed reading or skimming. But the purpose was to get an overall view in a short period of time, not do an in depth reading or study during the next three months.

I loved the Big Picture view I got of the Bible reading it all in that short period of time! What stood out to be in a new way was how much pleasure God receives when His people simply trust Him! He delights in those who trust Him enough to follow Him without question, and who believe that He is for them, not against them.

If you would like to read through the Bible in a short period of time, here are a couple more sources for a 90-day schedule:

Also, you can sign up here for the daily Bible readings by email from Purposeful Singleness based on another Chronological Bible Reading Plan to read through the Bible in a year.

The new Bible Reading page lists other Bible reading schedules and resources, if you would like to choose a different reading plan.

Remember that reading our Bibles is simply a tool in our relationship with God. Reading and studying our Bibles is not something God demands of us, but rather something He offers us because He wants us to know Him better. Let your relationship with Him so deepen that you feel compelled to read His love letter to you, not obligated to read it. The Christian life is all about a relationship with God, not obligation.

This Year’s Theme

Eight Little Words

This year I sense the Lord giving me a theme of Fruitfulness. I see a number of things I’ve been working on coming to a place of fruition, which is exciting and fulfilling! I’ll mention one of them here:

After working for several years on a book of my father’s memoirs, based mainly on his single adult years, my niece Alyssa Reitz and I are finally publishing Eight Little Words this year! Our hope and prayer is that you will be encouraged and inspired as you read about God’s faithfulness in his life, and his faithfulness in following God’s leading through the years.

So, how about you? What do you sense God is wanting to emphasize in your life in the New Year?

May God bless your New Year with the abundant life Jesus came to give you as you consecrate yourself fully to Him!

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  1. I completed a bible in a year plan for 2015, I believe the word of God changed my life. I’m contemplating whether or not I should do it this year. I believe having a plan for reading keeps me grounded. Happy New Year Fern!

    1. Fern Horst says:

      Happy New Year, to you, Traci! Am curious what you decided. I believe God leads us to different ways of reading and studying His Word, so it doesn’t always have to be the same year after year. I’ve benefited from both reading straight through and reading shorter sections with time to study and contemplate more in depth.

  2. “The Christian life is all about a relationship with God, not obligation.”

    Thank you, Fern!

  3. Fern, I can identify with the Lord giving you the humility theme for the year. One day in 2014, one day, I was praying about some difficult things going on in my life. The Lord showed me He was teaching me humility. It was certainly difficult at times, but the fruit of what the Lord has done in drawing me closer to Him and showing His love to me in a more real way and purging some of the pride from my life and also what He’s done in family relationships is certainly worth the work He has been and is doing. I’ve said, “I’m sorry” so many times. I say this not to give you fear that you may face some challenges, but to encourage you that God has good things for you no matter what He works on. In fact, He has better things for us because of what He does in our lives.

  4. I can’t wait to see what 2017 holds. So thankful for this journey with you! My prayer is that many others will discover and live on their purpose! So glad you are living on your purpose, Fern!

    1. Thanks, Shari! Amen and Amen!

  5. The “theme” God has given me for 2017 is love. Not as in finding a mate, or a match (although I’ve not given up that dream :)). But learning what His love really is. How he loves me. How I am to love others. How to live the offense-covering, sin-forgiving unconditional love that Jesus came to give us. And in all of that, to be transformed to live His abundant kind of life, with full knowledge of who I am and whose I am.

    God bless you, Fern in your new endeavors – they sound so exciting!

    1. What a wonderful theme for the year, Robin! Knowing God’s love for us is truly transforming, and we can always learn more and more and more! I pray He blesses you with tremendous insight into His love, spiritual eyes to see His love displayed in ways you hadn’t before, and a deep sense of His love for you. He loves us way more than we can comprehend, but it’s always wonderful to comprehend more than we had before.

      Thanks, too, for your encouragement! I’m excited, too! 🙂

  6. Only_The_Lonely says:

    I wish I could look upon 2017 with anything like joyful anticipation. This week, I learned that a very dear friend died suddenly, from a brain aneurysm suffered on New Year’s Day. The news came as a complete shock. And I am still coping with the emotional numbness.

    My friend was a strong Christian (although, oddly enough, he married a Mormon woman he met in college). He loved reading his Bible, especially the Psalms. They gave him comfort and encouragement. He put my shallow faith to shame, with his consistently brighter outlook on life.

    It’s hard to me, to look at the New Year, except through the dark shades of grief. Knowing that I’ll never hear my friend’s voice, or read his emails, again, pains me to the core. He was a special part of my life. (I know: it all sounds very selfish on my part.) My one consolation is knowing that my friend is with Jesus now, and in no more pain.

    I can’t see straight now. And I can’t even cry, due to anti-depressant meds. Joy? Peace? They are illusions to me, at this moment.

    1. OTL, it’s always great to hear from you! Though I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. Grief is a hard journey to have to take, and we’re not ever fully prepared for it. I am glad you find consolation in his being with Jesus — it was certainly an upgrade for him from this earthly life! But I also well know the big hole a loved one leaves behind. I pray for God’s comfort and grace for you and the ability to feel so you can process the grief and move forward. I know without a doubt that God has AMAZING and WONDERFUL things for you in 2017, even though it may not feel like it could be possible right now. All I can do is encourage you to lean into the only One who can comfort you — don’t blame Him, as it separates you from that Comfort — and to pray for you, which I most certainly will.

      1. Only_The_Lonely says:

        Thank you, Fern, for your prayers.

        I still can’t shed tears over my friend’s death. These meds drive me nuts sometimes; while they ‘even out’ the mood swings, they don’t allow me to feel grief.

        I don’t blame God for what happened to my friend. I’m too numb to blame anyone at this point. It will take a long time to get past this.

        1. Fern Horst says:

          I’m so glad you don’t blame God. Meds do have their down sides, unfortunately, even when they do us a lot of good, too. One thing they can’t prevent anyone from doing, though, is choosing to accept what has happened even if your emotions are flat.

          I’ve been challenged in that lately after my cat Tang (not the same as a person, I realize) passed away over Christmas, that rather than giving into the cycle of grief that fights acceptance of reality we don’t like, that I choose to accept it even though I don’t like it and it is in fact painful. Acceptance brings peace, especially when our acceptance is based on a choice to trust God who we know does ALL things well, and has our best at heart. “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21) was what Job said, and I’m challenged that if he could say it after loosing so much and so many of his family, that I should be able to say and mean it, too. It is challenging, though!

          Blessings to you, OTL. I’m so sorry you are experiencing this loss. Praying for you!