(January 01, 2022) Brian Bell shares afresh on some of his December thoughts as we move for Jesus into this new year…
Christmastime is over and 2022 is here!
Like some others, maybe you too are looking back on difficult 2021 life experiences. Amid the uncertainties of life perhaps some situation injured you, people may have hurt and or disappointed you.
Perhaps you had failed the Lord in some way, or you made poor decisions and thought He won’t forgive you. Well, a December Features was on the very spirit of Christmas… forgiveness (Christmas – Perfect Time for Forgiveness).
There is a wrong tendency with Christians to feel difficult circumstances must be an indication of sin in our lives, or that we have displeased and or failed the Lord… and this can hinder us from moving ahead, especially into every God-given new year.
Now there may be times when we have made choices that have contributed to our certain circumstances. But we need to remember that varied, changing and indeed difficult circumstances of life are common to everyone, believer and non-believer. So, I encourage you to deal with whatever needs dealing with, perhaps putting things ‘right’ with another believer… and resolving to move on!
In general, a lot of people make new year resolutions. Many are frivolous, become irresolutions and are forgotten within the first few days of January! But, with the Holy Spirit’s help, there is every reason to resolve with great hope how we as believers may move forward as the Lord requires of us in 2022.
Here again are some of my own resolutions that, hopefully, may also encourage you. Note the key word more:
1. Praying more
‘What a friend we have in Jesus…’ Joseph Scriven composed after he’d had an exceedingly difficult personal experience and the phrase ‘O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer’ rings true for me… and maybe for you too.
Jesus loves to hear us speak to Him, especially if we are injured, or feel we can’t go on, and tell Him what has happened and how we feel. This ‘talking to Jesus’ is what we call prayer and it’s something that we can do, even when we don’t feel like it. Biting the bullet as it were and humbly praying to our Lord!
Luke 18:1 tells us that Jesus Himself encouraged His disciples that they ‘should always pray and not give up.’ These serious words do not, of course, mean we need to leave aside all the demands and responsibilities of life and devote our time only to prayer! No, they speak about being in an attitude of prayer! You can be in prayer as you…
- Carry out household chores
- Travel to work
- Even as you train in the gym!
And it is especially good to meet with others for prayer, even if in those situations where you may not pray audibly. Listening to others pray and agreeing with their prayers by saying ‘Amen,’ you can bring encouragement and strengthen your own soul.
2. Reading scriptures more
‘Read your Bible pray every day if you want to grow’ are memorable words of an old children’s song that I recall.
It’s only natural that we eat food to satisfy our appetite and maintain our physical strength. But we must see God’s word as food for our souls and spiritual life.Sometimes we may experience a poor spiritual appetite, persevering with ‘little and often.’
We all need to see God’s biblical word as not only as a book to be read but as food to be digested!
The Lord will speak to you through His word, very often by reminding you of some truth you already know or the application of a verse of scripture in specific circumstances. Listen to what He says, even if it means you must change in some way, or take action based on His word.
3. Fellowshipping more
In John 4, Jesus told the Samaritan woman He met at the village well in Sychar that the time had come when worship is no longer ‘tied’ to a specific place. So, we are not limited today as to where or how we engage in fellowship (and for many of us it has meant we have been taking part in or listening to ‘live stream’ services).
Hebrew 10:25 Message encourages us to be ‘not avoiding worshipping together as some do but spurring each other on.’ How interesting that a purpose in meeting together is to spur each other on; this has the sense that we are all running in the race and cheering each other to keep going.
We don’t have a blinkered vision: we know people (and that includes me) are flawed and sometimes sadly, we don’t live in love as we ought. Paul was encouraging the Hebrew believers – as the Message version puts verse 24 – to ‘see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out.’
Now there is a challenge – Paul is saying to find new ways to encourage loving and helpful relationships. Have you got any new, innovative ideas for 2022?
Fellowshipping together gives us an opportunity to share our burdens with other believers who can help us. May 2022, Lord willing, see us able to maintain this vital aspect of Christian practice.
4. Encouraging others more
Someone has said ‘In God’s economy our generosity can be demonstrated by the measure of our love for others.’ This means being generous in spirit and in our attitude to others, treating people as equals and with respect (especially if you have a leadership role). This does not mean shying away if problematic issues arise need to be dealt with, but in those situations we should always speak the truth in love.
Personally, I believe – and have proved as others have encouraged me – that one of the most vital ministries is to be an encourager. No wonder Proverbs 11:25 reminds us that ‘those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.’
Meeting with a fellowship of believers when they meet for prayer, Bible study and Sunday services are opportunities to encourage one another, with the objective of all we do being to reach out in Jesus’ name.
5. Reaching out more
Without referring to differing ‘end time’ views (which I respect) I would share one of my favourite passages about end time perspectives… Paul’s firstletter to the Thessalonians chapter 4.
The apostle describes the Lord’s coming as a ‘coming to the air’ to ‘call’ or ‘rapture’ believers from the earth – as distinct from the events described in chapter 2 of his second letter to the Thessalonians (which I believe are also the subject of Revelation 19).
The Thessalonians were clearly told that Paul is sharing that which he received ‘…directly from the Lord’and he talks about the:
- Certainty of the Lord’s coming.
- Context of the Lord’s coming.
- Comfort found in the Lord’s coming, and being…
- Caught up at the Lord’s coming.
Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-4Message, talks about ‘how and when’ this event will happen and tells us ‘The day of the master’s coming can’t be posted on our calendars.’
No doubt you’re like me… I ensure all of my most important engagements are written into diary in an effort to ensure they won’t be forgotten. That’s what Paul is saying – it is not a question of us pinpointing a specific date relating to the Lord’s coming (known only to our Father God), but an encouragement not to forget and to live in light of the promise of Jesus’ coming back to earth!
My challenge to you, dear reader, in relation to this fifth resolution is this… Where are you in relation to this promise? Sadly, recent world events have caused many believers to feel uncertain about their faith, or to be asking if they are ‘new signs’ relating to the ‘nearness’ of the Lord’s coming.
The reality is that while we can be sure the Lord will keep His promise to come! Although the exact timing of that event is not within our knowledge, until then there is still much ministry that God has for you and me – His people, His church – to achieve before Christ’s return! The great commission of Matthew 28:18-20 is still to be fulfilled… we can be a part of its continued outworking however the Holy Spirit leads us!
In 2022 we may find ourselves being hard pressed by the enemy or circumstances as we seek to go forward in kingdom service and uphold kingdom values, but… the Lord is coming and until He does, He calls us, as Paul encouraged the Thessalonians, to ‘stand firm.’ Here’s another 2022 resolve challenge… resolve to hold our ground.
Brian Bell is a diaconate member, Christ Church (Congregational) Abbots Cross, Northern Ireland, and a volunteer with Disabled Christians Fellowship Ireland. He describes himself as ‘grateful for the privilege and opportunity given me to serve my Lord.’