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.
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.
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:
- 90 DAY BIBLE READING PLAN (CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER)
- Bible in 90 Days, eBook: Cover to Cover in 12 Pages a Day
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
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!