|Barnes family selfie!|
So it’s the start of a new year; how does that affect you? Are you filled with optimism, or fearful of what it might hold for you and your loved ones? Some might argue that the way we feel will be determined by our circumstances, what we can see around us and what we can see coming down the road.
To a certain extent they are right, but what do we see? If we only see with our eyes, material things and the stories presented by our media, then we may well become fearful. There certainly are many challenges, including: terrorism, continuing economic instability, climate change and an unprecedented refugee crisis, and that’s before we get onto our personal problems around family, health, finance, career and relationships. But knowing God as Father, that we are His children, and that His kingdom is coming, trumps all these very real difficulties and changes everything!
As it says in Hebrews 10:39 and 11:13, we are not those who shrink back, but those who have faith and embrace God’s promises (even if we don’t see them realised immediately in our lives). We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), because we know that the unseen realm is more important than the one we can see with our eyes. The truth that God is love, He is our Father and that His love for us stretches higher than the heavens are above the earth, that He is working in us, with us and through us in all things for good, far outweighs every obstacle the enemy might put in our way. We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us!
I am not sorry to see the back of 2015. For me it was a difficult year in which some important aspects of my life were rocked: this included having my integrity challenged, my theology questioned and an earthquake destroying the training centre I had established in Nepal! But in the midst of all those trials God spoke some wonderful promises (through Sharon Stone) to confirm my calling and encourage my heart, Pioneer commissioned me as an apostle, and as I ministered at various Ignite courses around the country I found myself walking in the things God called me to 25 years ago! I imagine that most of us will have had years filled with a mixture, as well. In such times it is vital we dwell on and fill our hearts with the good things God says about us and does for us, and not to nurse disappointment by worrying about the challenges and the things He doesn’t appear to be helping us with.
When Jesus came He declared “The year of the Lord’s favour” (Luke 4:19), that God was looking favourably upon men to bless them and not to judge them. That enabled Him to go about doing good to all who came to Him for help, not just the ‘good’ people. He knew that His Father was gracious and therefore wanted to bless all men beyond what they deserved. That enabled Jesus to confidently forgive adulterers and accept tax collectors and robbers as friends. Some, like Judas who betrayed Him, trampled on His kindness and grace, but that didn’t stop Jesus extending grace to everyone who came to Him.
The truth is, it is still the favourable year of the Lord! As ambassadors of Christ, those who represent the kingdom of heaven, we too may go about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the evil one. Undoubtedly, there are challenges for us to face, but Jesus has promised to be with us and to help us overcome them. So let us press on into 2016 with great courage, knowing He is with us; let us embrace the challenges and take hold of every opportunity to represent the kingdom of heaven and bring light and life to every situation we find ourselves in.
I pray you will know God’s favour this year and be blessed in every way, especially in every act of kindness prompted by His love. Let’s push on into 2016 with much faith, hope and love!