At the end of the year 2015, we had no idea what to expect from 2016, but we plunged into it all the same, trusting God to guide, direct, and provide for us. The year 2016 just ended, and no matter what our circumstances were, God was right there with us. He fulfilled His promise, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God” (Isaiah 43:2-3 NIV).
You may have experienced ill health, financial difficulties, loss of a loved one, or other hardships in 2016, but God honored His Word, and sustained you! Do you know or do you have any idea what 2017 holds? Please don’t answer “yes,” because you would be claiming to be God, which you are not. Only God knows the future!
Jesus warns us, and our experience confirms, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33 NIV). The year 2017 will undoubtedly bring its own set of challenges, but we are encouraged, because Jesus said, “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). This warning applies as long as we are in the world. The date is irrelevant. If we believe that Jesus is the same yesterday, and today and forever (see Hebrews 13:8), then we know He will remain faithful, and He will keep His Word and walk us through 2017, just as He walked us through 2016 and all the years before that.
Not knowing the details of 2017, can be frightening, but we can hold on to His promise that says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV).
As we claim God’s promises for 2017, shouldn’t we be making Him some promises? I think we should! Let us make it our aim to be well pleasing to Him at all times, in all that we do and say (see 2 Corinthians 5:9). That attitude will be in keeping with the admonition of Moses to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV).
On the very night Jesus was betrayed, he told his disciples, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15NIV). Let’s demonstrate our love for Him by being obedient to His Word. Some sins so easily beset us; we need to be vigilant and prayerful, in order not to fall prey to any of them in 2017. Peter enumerates some of these sins that we should watch out for, in order not to allow the enemy to make us victims. He says, “Rid yourselves of all malice, and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” (1 Peter 2:1 NIV).
Christians struggle with one or more of these sins every day, an indication that we are in a battle. Our weapons and strategy for victory are quite different from the ones used by the world. The weapons that will assure victory over sin are prayer, the Word of God, and obedience to the Word of God. In addition to our weapons, we need to be outfitted with our God-designed armor, 24/7 (see Ephesians 6:13-18).
This year, let’s draw closer to our Commander in Chief, Jesus, and learn from Him how to wage war successfully. I suggest our promise to God for this year should be, “Lord, with your help, I will be more prayerful, be a student of your Word, and seek to be obedient to you.”