The Coming Days
By Dr. Bruce C. Swaffield
Professor, Regent University
Just before the start of a new year, we make one resolution after another. We set ourselves to lose weight, to exercise more, to eat healthier, and maybe even to spend less time working. All of these intentions are commendable, but what about our commitment to the Lord? How can we seek to serve him better in the weeks and months ahead?
The first step we must take is to become more determined, more resolute, to follow his will. We need to think less of what we want and focus wholly on what God has planned for us in the year ahead. The apostle James warned about making decisions based on personal desires and wishes: “You who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.”
When we lay claim to what we are going to do, for example, we sin because we place greater emphasis on the finite rather than in the infinite. In other words, we replace God’s will with our own. We boast about our plans to make money or to prosper in some way when we should be placing our confidence and trust in God. What he wants us to do will last for eternity. What I want now will end as soon, and as quickly, as my life on earth ceases to be. My days, says James, are like a mist that lasts only a short while.
As we begin a new year, we have been given another opportunity to rededicate our lives to building God’s kingdom as opposed to our little one here in the world. We can still make resolutions for the next 12 months, but we must remember to begin them with the phrase, “If it is the Lord’s will.” Any success we experience is due to him; it is only right and proper that we begin with him as well.
We do not know for certain what a new year will bring, but we always hope that it will be better than the last one. We say goodbye to regrets, heartaches, arguments, missed opportunities, anxieties, perhaps even illness, and anticipate the coming days with eagerness. Maybe the year ahead will be a time of personal and professional growth, a time for financial increase, a time for a new job or a time for a much needed vacation.
While we wonder about the future, God knows what lies ahead. He planned each moment of this new year long before our birth so many years ago. He alone sees where we are going and what we will encounter. Everything we are about to face will be according to his design. What we have to remember, in good times as well as bad, is that everything will work together for good for those who love him.
It would be nice to think that nothing evil or difficult will occur this year: we will not get sick; we will not experience tragedy; we will not be hurt by others; we will not have any economic problems; we will not confront disappointment; we will not have to cope with any adversity at all. But the reality of life is that many of these challenges will occur, and we will not have an easy time getting through any of them.
Day after day, for three years, Jesus walked from town to town doing the Father’s will. Each moment, from morning until evening, his life demonstrated the power and authority of God. He lived in the world without being a part of it.
Even though Jesus was attacked, maligned, mocked, jeered and rejected, he did not change. He knew who he was in God and he remained true to his purpose on earth. Nothing was able to come against him because he allowed himself to be guided and protected by God’s plan.
Jesus experienced the same temptations that confront us today. He was not immune to pain and suffering even though he was the Son of God. In fact, we seldom think about the magnitude of his struggle. Imagine how he must have felt after living in paradise and then coming down to earth. He came from glory and grandeur to face sin and corruption. Jesus knew perfection, yet he agreed to live for a short time among imperfection.
Our Father asks us to do the same. He plans for us to fulfill his good and perfect will. We, too, are asked to live for him (just as Jesus did) and to show the way to heaven. If we chose his way, God promises to care for us no matter what we encounter. He brought Jesus all the way through the cross and into eternity. Not only will God do the same for us, but we also have Jesus and the Holy Spirit to intercede on our behalf. The Trinity of the universe is all around us. Nothing can defeat us as long as we live according to God’s design.
This year we must be willing to trust God more than ever. Rather than placing our hope and expectations in circumstances around us, we need to put our hope in him. He is high above any of the troubles that will surely come our way. And he is ready to guide, protect and sustain us. We have his promise, his covenant. We are his children and he is our father. He will take care of us every minute of this new year, even during times of tremendous pain and suffering. Our hope for the year ahead should be in him, and in his good and perfect plan for our prosperity. If we can find it in ourselves to place our full faith in his will, we will see – when we reach Dec. 31 – that this was indeed a good new year.
More Devotions on Spiritual Life
More from Spiritual Life
More Devotions by Dr. Bruce Swaffield
from the Regent University School of Journalism
Bruce Swaffield is a professor in the Regent University School of Journalism
in the the College of Communication. He
welcomes your e-mail comments.
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