THE CHRISTIAN HOPE IN THE NEW YEAR

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THE CHRISTIAN HOPE IN THE NEW YEAR

A new year is upon us; a new hope, a new beginning. But you know, for as much as new beginnings bring hope, new beginnings can also turn out to be bad omens for some. Let me illustrate.

Suppose you were stuck in a rut. A new beginning brings hope of better things to come, doesn’t it? But suppose you were on a high. Now, a new beginning might spell the end of all that is good and mark the start of bad times.

So how should we face this new year? With eager anticipation that good things will come? Or prudent caution, that there will be as much bad coming as there will be good?

Well, beloved child of God, here’s what Jesus has to say about the matter.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” Matthew 24:35

Alright, those among you who are more familiar with scripture will recognize this verse as coming from the passage in which Jesus talks about the end of days. But context aside, has there ever been one instance in the Bible in which what Jesus says did not happen? None, is there? And how can I be so sure that this verse, even when taken out of context, still holds true for us? Well, that’s because Jesus was not the only One who said it.

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

Our triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are not One to take their words lightly. What They say, They mean; and what They mean, They say. So when Jesus says,

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” Matthew 24:35

You can bet your bottom dollar that you can take Him on His word.

Now, traditionally, preachers will start to look at all the promises that Jesus has given and draw hope from all of that for the new year; and in good time, so shall we as well. But there is one aspect of this verse that I want us to pay attention to today, one aspect that is often read but overlooked, and it is this;

“Heaven and earth will pass away...” Matthew 24:35

Yes, Jesus Himself said, Heaven and earth will pass away. Now, yes, again the theologians among you will note that when He said this, Jesus was referring to the literal removal of Heaven and earth, which happens; or happened, depending on how you choose to interpret the Biblical timeline; when John saw this;

“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.” Revelation 21:1

But I don’t believe that God, when He wrote the Bible through the Spirit, via the hands of man, meant the Word to be so uni-dimensional as to not have a deeper, more intangible layer of meaning. Because you see, even in our lives, we know that our heavens, our good times, our highs, they do pass away.

In Economics, we call this The Cycle. In the stock market, we call this the Bulls and the Bears. And we accept this as being a part of our lives. But be that as it may, facing the impending uncertainty of downturns, is not something that we relish, and it is surely not something that we want to face at the beginning of the year.

But you know, beloved child of God, for us, it doesn’t matter even WHEN bad times come, because

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” Matthew 24:35

Yes indeed, His words will be no means pass away; His promises will be no means pass away. And we can draw comfort from this because His words

“... shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

So what are His words, and for what manner of ‘thing’ was it sent?

The answer for this is simple, and the examples, plentiful; and I shall direct you to a few good ones.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

For whom are these words sent? Yes, for all who will ask, for all who will seek and for all who will knock. And if that is you, great! For this is why such goodness will be given to you.

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11
Yes, your Father in Heaven is, and there’s no other way of saying this, God. So you can expect to expect more from Him than anyone else you have ever expected from.

And what can we expect from our Father? Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms.

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14

Twice He says it, what we ask, He will do. Twice, in two verses; as if to say, ‘hey, if you weren’t paying attention, or you didn’t believe me, I’ll say it again’.

But you know, what’s even more beautiful that these literal promises, is the metaphor that our Father gave in Isaiah 55;

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

His word comes like rain and snow, to nourish and nurture, to bring forth bud so that we might have bread.

And isn’t it wonderful that our Father is aware of the entire process and what each stage means to the stakeholders? If you feel that you are a plant, in need of care and hungry for nourishment, His promises are like rain and snow. If you are in the business of changing minds and sowing seeds of transformation in people’s lives and situations, His word is the seed. And even if you are just hungry for sustenance and need a turnaround in your circumstance, His word is bread that you can eat.

Indeed, these words are true.

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.” Isaiah 55:1

All that Jesus has put on offer is given without cost, no strings attached, because all He wants is for all who will ask, all who will seek and all who will knock to receive seed for the sower and bread for the eater. For indeed, if you who are earthly know how to give good things to your children, how much more does your loving Father in heaven want to give good things to you?

And that’s the rub for this new year. There’s no fancy theme for this year, not even a new message for this new beginning; only an old message of comfort, the old message that should give us confidence as we face the passing of our own heavens and earths.

So step forth this year, beloved child of God; step forth and ask, go forth and seek, and stretch forth to knock, knowing that come what may, our Father is always right there with you, watching over you, and making sure that you are always well protected and well provided for.

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