What do you see when you look at 2024? Thoughts of a new year are often filled with hope, excitement, or sometimes apprehension. Maybe you are expecting big changes such as having a child or a new job search or a move. Sometimes we are filled with apprehension about our own or a loved one’s health issues. Many people make resolutions, New Year’s resolutions which cause the gym to be crowded in January and February and that type of thing. Weight Watchers probably has its highest profit margin in January and February of each year. I am, of course, just guessing on that but you know what I am saying. A brief internet search revealed that improved fitness, improved finances, and improved mental health generally tops the charts of new year resolutions.
A recent article in Parade magazine suggested some interesting resolutions. 55 to be exact. And the first one was to focus on a passion, not the way you look but what moves you. Another resolution was to stop gossiping and spread positivity instead. A third was to give one compliment a day. Additionally, it is suggested to do random acts of kindness.
For me, I enjoy looking to the new year with hope. In more recent years, I have tried to come up with a theme word for the year, instead of making 10 or so resolutions that I probably will not keep. This helps me with having a VISION for the year ahead. For instance, in 2024, at least at the time of this writing, I have tentatively settled on the word FEARLESS. My inspiration came from I John 4:18, which states “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” In choosing the word FEARLESS, I am aiming to work harder for the Lord, letting go of my fears of being judged or shunned for sharing the truth of Jesus. I want to be fearless in stepping up for things that are right and walking away from wrong. I desire more confidence in sharing Jesus with others.
Our vision can make us or break us many times. Do you see the glass half empty or half full? David writes in Psalm 37, telling us “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.” David goes on to state: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4-5. Our vision should align with that of the Lord.
In the Old Testament, Nehemiah is a great example of visionary leadership. In Nehemiah chapters one and two, Nehemiah learns that the Jews who had survived captivity were in great distress and that the wall of Jerusalem had broken down with its gates burned in fire. Upon learning this, Nehemiah sat and wept and mourned, and fasted and prayed for many days. But Nehemiah did not allow negativity to overtake him. Instead, he acknowledged the wrongs which the children of Israel had committed and repented for those wrongs.
When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, to report all that he had seen, he was realistic about the present but encouraged others to “rise up and build.” Thinking about the future. Even when the challenge seemed unsurmountable, Nehemiah prayed and committed to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem (Ezra 3, Nehemiah 2).
Vision is about forward thinking. In Philippians 3:12-14, Paul states that “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
There are no guarantees in life, and we know that sometimes it is unpredictable and challenging. However, we can channel our minds to a strong and comforting vision. We are reminded numerous times in scripture that God is with us and God and His Word withstands all time. For instance, Isaiah 40:8 states “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”
Lamentations 3 you can trust God to give you a fresh, new beginning each and every morning. Lamentations 3:22 states that “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’” Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6 that God “has begun a good work in you” and that He “will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” We must persevere through the hard times, with the comfort of the knowledge that God’s Word is true and that we have a future in Heaven as has been promised. Hebrews 13:5 states that the Lord “will never leave you nor forsake you.” In Hebrews 13:8, the writer states that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” These words should comfort us.
Let’s start 2024 with a good, positive vision. While I cannot predict what your year will hold, nor my own, I do know the One who we trust will not leave us. Walk fearlessly with the knowledge that He will not forsake us. In John 14:1-4, Jesus states “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Speaking of comforting words, I want to end with my favorite scripture found in Jeremiah 29:11 which states “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Here is to a wonderful, profitable 2024! I pray that you will grow in the Lord and bring others to Him as well.
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