The New Year signals new opportunities, a new beginning, a fresh start. We all grow older, wiser, stronger, and more confident than ever. Whatever unique challenges we faced in 2014, the grace of God enabled each one of us to survive and overcome them. Indeed, His grace is sufficient for everyone – in every situation, every time.
George Santayana once said: “Those who cannot remember the past is condemned to repeat it”. And so it is only fitting to remember some of the milestones that we achieved in 2014, and at the same time learn from our past mistakes.
1. First, our relationship with God. Just like any relationship, it requires commitment and faithfulness – anchors which are crucial for the success or failure in our walk with God.
Prayer Life – Please note that it’s called “Prayer Life” because it is supposedly a part of your daily life. It’s not a prayer assignment, or, a prayer project, or, a prayer burden. If its part of your life, it should manifest itself in one way or the other. Did your prayer life improved in 2014?
Studying the Word of God – do you have a reading plan, a study plan, or, no plan? The Word of God is our spiritual food. You will starve if you don’t eat; you will end up being malnourished if you don’t take your food regularly. A malnourished Christian is a sick Christian. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a sick Christian. Your choice will determine your health as a believer.
Personal Evangelism – have we shared our faith regularly to our friends, colleagues and family? Nothing fires up a Christian than sharing his or her faith. Evangelism is our calling, our mission. Our purpose is to become “fishers of men”. Our failure to share our faith is a huge disappointment to God – the One who called us and gave us that purpose.
Tithes and Offerings – How we give our tithes is directly proportional to our faith. This is not a play of words, this is not semantics: this is a matter of trusting God to provide us our needs; this is a matter of God defending His honor that if we give back to Him faithfully, He will bless us abundantly, more than we can imagine. (Malachi 3:10)
Are we taking seriously our relationship with God?
2. Secondly, relationship with our Family and Work Colleagues – our families are the reason why we chose to remain working in this dangerous place. Without them, our hard work and long-suffering will mean nothing. Have we made an effort to develop meaningful relationships with our families? Our colleagues at work are like our second family. Have we been a positive influence in the workplace?
3. Finances – financial stability is the dream of every overseas worker. Did our finances improved, stayed as it is, or, are we struggling in 2014? Have we totally eliminated some of our bad habits like overspending or impulsive shopping? Our finances is a reflection of how good we are as stewards of the King. We need to prove that we are trustworthy stewards so that the LORD will give us more. If we cannot manage a small fortune, how could we manage a bigger one?
4. Career and personal dreams – we all have dreams and goals. Focusing all our efforts in a particular direction to achieve them is the hard part. What career and personal goals have you achieved this year? Or, even halfway in achieving that goal? Or, do you need to start over again? We must keep on dreaming because dreams gives birth to change.
Have we made good use of the time the LORD has given to us, or, have we wasted 2014?
In Proverbs 10:22, King Solomon has this to say: “The blessings of the LORD brings wealth and He adds no trouble to it”. First of all, God is more than willing to bless us. As a loving Father, He is anxious to give us His blessings. I have two children and I love them both so much. With my limited time and financial restrictions, I am willing to work in this dangerous place in order to give them all the good things that this life could bring.
Now, imagine an eternal Being – with no beginning and no end – with unlimited resources and power under His disposal who is anxious to bless you, a Father who is ready and willing to give you the best that this life could offer. That’s how God is.
The blessings of the LORD brings prosperity. It could be material or temporal blessings. The word blessings in our text is taken from the Hebrew word “barach” which means benediction / prosperity. Isaac was blessed by God and his crops yielded a hundred times (Genesis 26). And he became wealthy.
God’s blessings could be in the food that is within our reach, or, in godly contentment in poverty. It could also be a form of blessing that turns every possession into wealth. A modern example is William Colgate. He started as a small salesman in a soap business and eventually he became an owner. The small business that he started is now approximately a 9 billion dollar business empire. Our children are also blessings from the LORD. Jacob, the son of Isaac, had twelve sons who later multiplied and became a great nation. Our friends are also a blessing from the LORD. They help us when we are down and protect us from our destructive impulses. Our families are also a blessing from God. They are everything that we treasure the most.
The other blessing is spiritual. Spiritual prosperity is at all times supreme over material blessings. All the material prosperity cannot compare to the richness of spiritual blessings from the LORD. If you have eternal salvation, you are rich indeed! In Mark 8:36-37, Jesus himself said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his souls? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Even all the riches of the whole world cannot buy a man the salvation for his soul.
The blessings of the LORD has no trouble attach to it. A man can become wealthy without God’s blessings. And yet, because such wealth is not from the LORD, there is always trouble and sorrow attached to it. A lot of rich people may look happy on the outside but they are lonely on the inside. There are many high-profile individuals who are rich and famous and yet who committed suicide because they are empty inside. On the other hand, if the wealth comes from the blessings of the LORD, there is no sorrow or trouble attached to it. That’s a promise from the LORD according to the Scriptures. If we believe it, we are already halfway there.
Let us all learn from 2014 and let us give thanks to the LORD for His goodness and mercy. A blessed New Year 2015 to all of us!
An excerpt from my New Year’s Day Sermon on January 2, 2015 at Furnaj Area (Tripoli Medical Center – Tripoli/Libya)