Happy New Year 2021

An Outlook for the New Year

2020 was a year of unexpected events that touched our lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined. The global corona-virus pandemic closed down the economy and has separated people and disrupted our way of life. The President faced the onslaught of accusations with an impeachment trial where he was acquitted. It was difficult to sort out the real and “Fake News” reports where “Fact checkers” are held as the arbiters of truth and corporate “Algorithms” censor social media deciding for us what we can say. We are still waiting for the outcome of the Presidential election where results are tainted by poor process and what seems to be outright fraud. All of this has divided our nation with some blaming racial inequality and others blaming the rich and powerful as the once hope-filled middle class has seen the “American Dream” slip away.

But God has a way for us to live that will stabilize us through all of the noise of the world as we overcome in our own lives.

1. Begin Living Your Eternal Life Now

Colossians 3:1–2 LEB

1 Therefore, if you have been raised together with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things on earth.

Seeking “the things that are above” recognizes our current connection with God’s eternal Kingdom where Jesus Christ is already seated at the right hand of the Father.

We do anticipate the return of Christ, the new heaven and new earth, the final judgment and defeat of sin and death when every tear will be wiped from your eyes.

But right now, God says for us to come to Him for help.

Hebrews 4:16 LEB

16 Therefore let us approach with confidence to the throne of grace, in order that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Our relationship with God is real and now through prayer as we come to Him for answers.

Romans 12:2 LEB

2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may approve what is the good and well-pleasing and perfect will of God.

There are people in the world that claim to have answers, but we need God’s way of thinking to find our way.

2 Corinthians 4:16–18 LEB

16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but even if our outer person is being destroyed, yet our inner person is being renewed day after day. 17 For our momentary light affliction is producing in us an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure and proportion, 18 because we are not looking at what is seen, but what is not seen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is not seen is eternal.

And, even if it seems that we are under a great burden, there is a much greater eternal glory that is to come.

2. Bring Your Body Into Obedience – Bridle Every Natural Earthly Desire

Colossians 3:5–6 LEB

5 Therefore put to death what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustful passion, evil desire, and greediness, which is idolatry, 6 because of which the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,

We have died to this natural world so it no longer controls us. Show no mercy to natural desires and bring them completely under control of your spirit.

1 Timothy 6:11 LEB

11 But you, O man of God, flee from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patient endurance, gentleness.

We are to flee from the people and situations that trigger temptations and pursue righteousness.

3. Put on the New Man – Exhibit the Fruit of the Holy Spirit

Colossians 3:12–14 LEB

12 Therefore, as the chosen of God, holy and dearly loved, put on affection, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, 13 putting up with one another and forgiving one another. If anyone should have a complaint against anyone, just as also the Lord forgave you, thus also you do the same. 14 And to all these things add love, which is the bond of perfection.

This new man that we are to become is motivated by our identity as God’s children and accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit in us. But it doesn’t just happen, it takes a decision and action on our part to put on the fruit of  the Holy Spirit. As we honor Christ in our lives and walk in love each day, the power of God’s Word transform us and God is glorified.

John 15:8 LEB

8 My Father is glorified by this: that you bear much fruit, and prove to be my disciples.

4. Let the Peace of Christ Rule – Be Thankful

Colossians 3:15 LEB

15 And the peace of Christ must rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body, and be thankful.

As we enter this eternal relationship and renew our minds and discipline our bodies, the peace of Christ begins to rule in our hearts. We recognize the protection offered to us through God’s Word and can stand firmly in our identity as his son or daughter. We are not alone, but are part of His family. While the world is in turmoil, the peace of Christ fills us and overflows into thankfulness as we draw from God’s goodness and wisdom.

5. Seek Revelation in God’s Word – Read the Bible and Seek Wisdom

Colossians 3:16 LEB

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God,

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly … (v. 16)

God has been revealing His character and nature for generations.

2 Peter 1:21 LEB

21 for no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

This written Word of God is powerful and can transform us as it reveals to us the very character and nature of God.

2 Timothy 3:15–17 LEB

15 and that from childhood you have known the holy writings that are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, 17 in order that the person of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

This Word of God is powerful to bring about salvation and to equip us to live and find fulfillment in our lives. As you build a habit of reading your Bible every day you hear God speak his will for your life as you also grow closer to him. God’s Word, the Bible, reveals spiritual truth and lights our daily path.

Psalm 119:105 LEB

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

6. Fellowship With Other Believers in a Local Church

Colossians 3:16 LEB

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God,

… teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom… (v. 16a) can only happen through relationships with others.

Hebrews 10:25 LEB

25 not abandoning our meeting together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging each other, and by so much more as you see the day drawing near.

The local church is simply a group of Christians that are part of the body of Christ. We, together, are the living, breathing demonstration of Jesus Christ to the world.

John 13:35 LEB

35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples—if you have love for one another.”

We will never fulfill our role as examples of the love of Jesus Christ to the world until we love one another as members of the body of Christ through the use of our gifts in service and commitment to the Church. There is safety and strength for us in the structure of the local church as we, believers, encourage one another and live with accountability to God.

Ephesians 3:14–19 LEB

14 On account of this, I bend my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that he may grant you according to the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith (you having been firmly rooted and established in love), 18 in order that you may be strong enough to grasp together with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, in order that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

With all the saints we exhibit the true gospel and find expression for spiritual gifts as we serve each other and reach out to the world.

7. Worship God From Your Heart – Sing!

Colossians 3:16 LEB

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God,

This phrase, … singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (v. 16b) is not only for those that have a beautiful and well-trained singing voice. It doesn’t say anything about the quality of your voice because it is all about the fullness of your heart! If our heart is on the things above and our mind is set on God’s promises of good for us, we are to let our mouths express the joy we feel.

Psalm 98:4 LEB

4 Shout joyfully to Yahweh, all the earth. Be cheerful and sing for joy and sing praises.

Singing expresses our joy in him, as we express our faith and trust in God. So shout, be cheerful and sing!

8. In Everything You Do, Give Thanks

Colossians 3:17 LEB

17 and everything whatever you do in word or in deed, giving thanks for all things in the name of the Lord Jesus to God the Father through him.

We all have expectations about how our lives will unfold but we cannot control all of the events around us. We must deal with disappointment particularly when our personal and sometimes selfish pursuits fail. The fact that we didn’t get what we wanted the way we wanted it doesn’t mean that God is not for us. In fact, He knows what we need even more than we do and encourages us to “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus”. This is the only way for us follow through and fulfill our role as Christians with our life in Christ.

Colossians 3:3–4 LEB

3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

In giving up our own desires, we have not lost anything. In fact, we have received the gift of God’s grace as we have become citizens in His Kingdom where our actions have eternal value. Through the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, we take up our cross and follow him as we put on love, thanking God for His goodness to us.

Happy New Year!