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Thursday, 1 January 2015

A new year.

Perhaps you didn't actually notice the "deliberate mistake" in the heading to this first post of 2015!   You have probably looked, now, and realised that I missed out the word 'happy' in the greeting.  This is not because I do not wish all of my readers a happy, peaceful, and prosperous 2015.  I do!  However, I am also something of a realist, and am aware of some of what is happening in the world around me.

As we begin this new year, it is certainly possible - and understandable - that we would do so with a certain trepidation.  Here, in the UK, we face a little over four months of electioneering for the May General Election.  It could be one of the closest-fought, most unpredictable, elections of a generation and, as such, will almost certainly lead to a lot of 'dirty campaigning'.  The economy, in the UK, may be improving (as we are assured by some), but it is still fragile.  Most of the people with whom I associate are still feeling a lot of economic pressure.

Further afield, there is the ongoing threat from Islamic extremists.  The so-called 'Islamic State' has shown itself to be one of the most cruel, and violent, groups since Attila the Hun.  In Nigeria, Boko Haram is not much better; nor is Al Shabbab in Somalia.  Of course, such groups could have been mentioned in the previous paragraph as they have, not just the UK, but the whole of western Europe, in their sights.

One could go on, but anyone treading this is more than capable of adding to the list.

However, stepping into 2015 with anything but confidence is the wrong attitude for those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus.  Our Lord warned us: "In this world you will have trouble."  We can all instantly relate to that!  However, He continued: "But take heart!  I have overcome the world." (John 16:33).  Hallelujah!  Father God assures us: "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10).  The Psalmist testified, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in You." (Psalm 56:3).  Peter invites us to "... cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you." (I Peter 5:7).

Why do we fear the future?  Because it is unknown, and the unknown can be frightening.  And because we feel ourselves inadequate to the challenges that may lie ahead.  But, amazingly, the future is known to God (more on that in my first book - Great Words of the Faith, in the chapter on Predestination!).  And God promises to meet all our needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

Even for those who are "in Christ Jesus" (Gal.3:28, inter al), the year ahead may not always work out in the way that we had hoped.  However, we may have the confidence that all is in His will and purpose, and that as we walk with Him, He will continue to lead us - even if it is, as with so many of our brothers and sisters in the persecuted church,through storm and tempest.  

So, "take heart" indeed.  The heavenly Father knows your every need (see Matt.6:32), and He has promised never to leave you,nor forsake you. (Heb.13:5).

Of course, if you are not already His, then you need to make that transition from darkness into light.  There are a number of useful links towards the bottom of this page (right-hand-side) and, of course, I will be delighted to be of whatever assistance I can.  Please feel free to contact me using the e-mail address at the top of the page.

Blessings, and shalom, throughout the coming year.

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