As we look forward to what the New Year holds for us, I am usually most interested in what the New Year looks like prophetically. Actually, I think I am like most people, asking questions like “What events will unfold in 2016 — in the world, in my country, in my family, and in my personal life? What do I need to be ready for?”
Barb and I like to be listening to the Holy Spirit to sense what he might be saying to us. I have my ears open to what the Lord might be saying to the church for 2016. I believe God speaks prophetically to his sons and daughters in this hour.
The implication for many of us, unfortunately, is a mindset that negative things will happen and we want to be prepared for them. I am often this way, and if it is set in the right context, that is prudent and wise.
Looking forward into 2016 with this mindset is pretty ominous these days. There is no lack of dark clouds on the horizon regarding major international currents — just today there are reporst of North Korea testing a hydrogen bomb, the most recent Shia vs. Shiite conflicts in the Middle East, ISIS and terrorism, the Syrian war, the fallout in Europe of the migrant crisis, the fallout nationally (socially and economically) for many countries dependent on oil revenue (current oil price is under $35 per barrel), Israel and her enemies, the US elections, the world financial situation (national and personal debts) etc. etc. etc.
Having said all this, I have a very different take on these matters this year. I have a different perspective because of the book I am working on. I am studying the life of Paul the Apostle to discover his keys to living a victorious life. The book will be written for church planters and church leaders, but is very relevant to each and every son and daughter of God Most High.
Here is Paul’s life’s mission statement, found in Acts 20:24: But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Here is why this is so relevant to this blog today as we look prophetically into this next year. The context of Acts 20:24 is this — as Paul was traveling towards Jerusalem he was being given over and over again prophetic words not to go, for there awaited him much tribulation in Jerusalem — chains, arrest, and persecution. Paul’s response, in so many words was bring it on, nothing will prevent me from finishing my life and running my race. But he did not stop there, he added these wonderful words -WITH JOY.
Nothing could take away his joy. I like that. I want to live that way, don’t you? So, let’s not be concerned with the events to come. They will come of course and for the most part there is nothing we can do to avoid them. Let us join Paul in rejoicing. He rejoiced along with Silas in the prison in Philippi. Nothing could take away his joy.
Let’s look at a couple Psalms. I like the way the New Living Translation translates parts of Psalm 32:
1 Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!
2 Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Interlude
6 Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
7 For you are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory. Interlude
8 The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
9 Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
10 Many sorrows come to the wicked,
but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
11 So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!
And one of my favorite Psalms, 100, also in the NLT
1 Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
3 Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
May 2016 be a year filled with joy, not because circumstances go well, but because they don’t have the ability to rob your joy.