Feeling worried about the year ahead?

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

I’m watching the dawn break as I write this morning. My view, which faces the Atlantic Ocean (and is blocked by homes in front of me), is not the one I’m used to. It’s usually beautiful to watch the great ball of sun rising above oceanfront rooftops.

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But today, the sky is dim with low-hanging gray clouds and the light doesn’t bounce off the water in the canal.

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What a difference a day makes.

As I look forward to the year ahead, it’s almost impossible not to look back. 2018 was incredibly busy and filled with unexpected obstacles and life-changing milestones. The biggest challenge was moving my two daughters to different cities, and the planning and logistics required to make it happen.

I didn’t expect that my two biggest champions would leave home this year. Now, it’s just me and the boys, and it’s been a difficult adjustment to say the least.

Like many, we’ve also struggled with all sorts of grief and joy. I suspect 2019 will be filled with much of the same, but I’m not worried and you shouldn’t be either.

The world we live in is filled with chaos. Political divisiveness, global warfare and countless pundits and prognosticators suggest impending disaster. They encourage us to be quivering cowards. They want us to fret, fear and feel hopeless because they think they know best and after all . . . misery loves company.

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I implore you not to join in their reindeer games! There is only One who truly knows the future.

When we try to remove God from all forms of society, society begins to spiral. We forget that God is on His throne and elevate “leaders” and philosophers to a position of omniscience. This is nothing but a form of idolatry. It has no place in the lives of believers.

And besides, fear tactics have been around for thousands of years.

Take a look at the words of Jeremiah in the Old Testament: Do not panic; don’t be afraid when you hear the first rumor of opposing forces. For rumors will keep coming year by year. Violence will erupt in the land as the leaders fight against each other. Jeremiah 51:46

Instead, let us remember that the Lord goes before us. Jesus invites us to rest in Him: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Peter reminds us to give our concerns to Him: Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

So let’s look forward to 2019 with anticipation and rejoicing. We serve a God who loves us, invites us into His family and goes before us in all things.

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

Ringing Out the Old: 3 things to leave behind us in the new year

By Erika Rizkallah

Goodbye 2016. I’m not sad to see you go!fireworks-1759

The lessons and difficulties won’t soon be forgotten. I learned a lot – and I’m thankful for that – but I won’t make the same mistakes this year.

I’ll ring in the new year quietly working the Christmas puzzle I started yesterday, eating Mexican food and hitting the hay. Right after I let my son shoot his paintball gun into the midnight sky.

Some of you will gather with friends, dance your heads off and watch the ball drop in Times Square.

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Our family tradition is to kiss one another at midnight. Sometimes we watch the worldwide celebrations on television. And sometimes, we mumble the words (we remember) of the song, Auld Lang Syne . . . but I have no idea why.

I don’t even know what it means!

So today I looked it up and it’s not at all what I thought it was. Reader’s Digest has a good article about the origins. And an informative post from the Scotland website provides the full lyrics in case we want to sing along. In English the words translate, “old long since.”

Truthfully, I’ve always thought it was about leaving things behind – hence the title of this post. So as far as these three things are concerned, let’s give them a farewell kiss . . .

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Sin – Sin separates us from God. He won’t tolerate it because it’s against his nature. He is holy. Let’s separate ourselves from it!

Despair – I’ve had my fill of despairing people this year. It may come across as mean-spirited but that’s not my intent. Never have I encountered as many dismal souls as I have this year. Despair doesn’t belong in Christ followers. Let’s toss it out!

Deceit – I’m no stranger to the power of deceit. As I reflect on 2016 I see how the enemy’s lies crept into my spirit and mind, like a lion waiting to devour. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Let’s shoot that sucker in the heart!

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Auld Lang Syne is actually an ancient Scottish reunion song . . . and a good song to drink to. It’s about friendship, a sense of belonging and thinking about days gone by. 

I think it’s an apt metaphor for the here and now.

In the end, when Christ comes again, we’ll be reunited with Jesus and all the other believers – past and present. We’ll sit down at a banquet together with a cup of wine in hand (both hands for me) and toast the days gone by.

We’ll say goodbye to the old earth, the old ways and the old life. We’ll celebrate the new life and catch up with old friends.

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What a lovely picture of heaven!

But make no mistake, we’ll find ourselves weeping and filled with anguish if we don’t renounce sin, despair and deceit now. We’ll never make it into God’s kingdom with those burdens in our spirit.

Let’s do the work.

There’s one glorious celebration ahead!

Happy New Year and God bless you friends!