Here we are at the end of 2016. It is also the last night of Chanukah. I wrote earlier this week that I would celebrate Chanukah by acknowledging the special miracles that God performs on my behalf each night. I would love to report that each night I experienced the Lord by way of the wind, earthquake, and fire.
(1 Kings 19:9-13) I did not, but God is so faithful to me; just like He sustained the oil in the lampstand for the Israelites as they rededicated the Temple, He has sustained me ~ not only through Chanukah, but through the whole of 2016. I have so many reason to be thankful to God. He not only sustains and holds me together, He holds everything together.
Recount all that He has already done on our behalf:
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities ~ all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:13-20)
We don’t have to look far to find God’s Grace in our lives. What else could we possibly need Him to do for us?
This has been quite a year; as I look back, I can see how God sustained and carried me through this year. School was especially challenging, as I went straight through the year without a break (not even a weekend in between classes) from January to December, right before Christmas ~ taking no less than three class per term. It was worth it though, as I only have two classes to complete between January and March and I will be done!! Yay!
I endured many personal trials that I am not able to discuss here, but they, too, took their emotional toll on me. But I can see God’s grace through it all. He truly carried me through. These past couple of weeks have been sweet rest for me, rest that I truly needed after the grueling school year, and I am so thankful to Him. Was it a rough year? Yes. But God is faithful; His mercies are new every morning.
I wrote at the beginning of Advent, that I desire to nurture a thankful heart, to cultivate a theology of thanksgiving. That means that I desire to be more grateful, and to make worship part of who I am ~ that I can’t breathe without giving Him praise for breathing His life into me. Being grateful fills us with Joy; Joy need not elude us, we only need to be grateful, and worship. Worshiping opens our hearts so that the Lord can fill it with His joy, and a thankful spirit helps us come to the Lord in humility, acknowledging that it is God’s gift to us, that we would be lost without Him. The brilliant author of Hebrews tells us that we can come in confidence before the throne of Grace to receive what we need (Hebrews 4:16); He always hears our prayers.
We don’t have to search to find God’s fingerprint on our lives. We don’t need to wait for Advent to be grateful or to be more purposeful in bringing Him praise. I am going to be very determined to be worshipful and to fulfill my calling in 2017, but that means spending more time with Him and in His Word, and in prayer. This is how we should spend 2017; He deserves our devotion. Practicing His presence in this way will grow and mature us in our faith. They are treasures worthy of our searching. Turning my heart to Him, and placing Him above all else in my live is to count it all loss and gain for Christ. (Philippians 3:7-9) Everything else is a waste of our God-given breath. Time is too short; He is coming soon, and we must be about His business. When we focus on the Kingdom first (Matthew 6:33), everything else we need will be given ~ that is His promise.
Happy New Year! Have a blessed 2017!