BLESSED NEW YEAR
P. Samuel Manoharam
May I wish all the valued readers of Light of Life magazine, a God-blessed and God-guided New Year. May this be a Christ-centred New Year, dedicated for spiritual renewal of our precious relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us express our deep gratitude to Him, with thankful hearts, for all He has done so faithfully, through Ďcloud and sunshine,í during the past eventful years, by His boundless love and abundant grace. How joyfully one should sing on New Yearís day, the beautiful hymn,
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come;
Our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home!
Nothing To Fear
When we are at the very gateway of this year, we may be anxiously pondering the unknown, uncertain, untrodden, unpredictable months ahead of us, in the midst of innumerable chaotic and dreadful events around the world. God gave us two little wonderful words, "Fear not" in the Holy Bible (Isa.41:13). I believe, whenever we have fear and anxiety about anything in life, our faith must lay hold of Christ, remembering what is said in Scriptures, "Fear not, do not be afraid. I will fear no evil for You are with me." These have greatly upheld me in my perplexing crises and I have experienced fearless, incredible calmness in the midst of several threatening situations by recalling these strengthening words. Who we really need to fear is God. Godís word says, "Fear God and keep His commandments" (Eccl.12:13). Living in godly fear delights Him. Nothing can touch a Godís child without His permission. Let us keep this in mind.
There is a very encouraging promise of God in Jeremiah 29:11 to nourish us spiritually, "For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." What a wonderful promise! The Lord we trust is a God of promise. God said in Psalm 89, "I will protect and bless him constantly." He even said in Isaiah 65, "I will answer them before they even call to Me." When God says, "I will," He means to fulfil what He promised, unlike us. We may not mean anything when we make promises. There is a vast difference between God and man. So we can simply rest on His unfailing promises and patiently wait on Him. He certainly accomplishes what He says. All we need to do is trust Him wholeheartedly. Psalm 62:5 says, "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him."
Faith In God
True and unflinching faith in God is a vital need for us to depend upon Him. It is not enough for us merely to step into another year. We should step into it boldly along with God. We must have unwavering faith in the Lord, for Him to hear us and answer our prayers throughout our rugged and challenging journey. Without such faith, manís life can be blown to fragments, in the midst of so many troubles and turmoil in practical living.
Faith is the gate between our peril and Godís power. God specialises in things thought impossible. We can cross uncrossable hardships through the Ďbridge of faith.í Faith in God helps us to go forward, not knowing where we are going. Abraham, known as a Ďfriend of Godí is our best example.
Direction And Destiny
The starting point of our journey in the New Year must be God. This alone can give us proper direction to take us to the desired destination, as destined by God. This determines how well we are going to succeed in our lifeís journey. Direction and destiny are in Godís hand, which we need to seek all the time.
Without God, man can only live a meaningless and disordered life. There is a false notion among some people that man is the master of his fate and can control his own destiny. This is misconceived. Such a person without God will only end up ultimately in utter failure. His life will be empty and powerless. So any one aspiring to accomplish anything great in life can do so only with Godís grace and His Power. Christ clearly said, "Without Me you can do nothing" (Jn.15:5).
Success And Failure
Our lifeís journey is a pilgrimage on earth. It is filled with success and failure, often with disappointment, discouragement and frustration. But God is using all these to fashion in our hearts such heavenly things like love, compassion, patience, holiness, wisdom and humility. So what matters in the end is not success or failure in life, but a valuable character that has been formed out of them, especially out of failures and losses.
Mother Teresa said, "We are called upon not to be successful, but to be faithful." She exemplified that faith, in prayer, in love, in service and in peace.
Albert Einstein said, "Try not to become a man of success, but rather to become a man of values." This implies ethical, moral and spiritual values, reflected in our character, which needs to be cultivated.
New Life In The New Year
Let us forget the former things, not dwelling on the past. The Lord may be wanting to do a new thing for us in the New Year, through the power of the Holy Spirit, making us as His chosen vessels to receive Him when He comes again. There is therefore an utmost need to prepare our souls for Godís kingdom. The only way is through the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, for which we need to be born again, as Christ repeatedly said. Our old sinful life and its ways must give way to the new Christ-like life within our hearts. It is said, "The heart of the problem of sin is the problem of the heart itself. As we yield to the gentle urges of the Holy Spirit within our heart, He takes full care of us, transforming us into a new creation (new life), which is Christ-likeness."
There are two spiritual powers within us that control us. The flesh (which is the seat of sin in man or the lust of human nature) has its strong pull to make us yield to various temptations to sin. But Godís Spirit within us, through His wonder-working power, has His own pull, much stronger, to make us not to fall into such temptations. So Christís Spirit must always be at the centre of our lives. This is the higher life Christ wants us to live in the New Year which He gifted us.
D. L. Moody said, "We have to have a higher type of Christianity, or else the church will be gone. It is wrong for a man to profess what he doesnít possess. If you are not overcoming temptations, the world is overcoming you. Let us ask God to help us and to wake us up. Let us not think that just because we are church members, we are all right. We are all wrong if we are not getting victory over sin." These important words should inspire and guide us, to live a victorious Christian life.
Intimate Walk With Christ
Our souls function like photographic plates, and Christís shining image is the light. The more we expose our lives to the light of His righteousness and holy life, by spending enough time, in intimate fellowship with Him every day, the more His image will be formed into our character. Christís image is His love, compassion, truth, holiness, integrity and humility. This happens when we have a disciplined regular devotional life, through Scripture study, prayer, meditation, witnessing, evangelising and keeping the Lord in our thoughts all the time. The result is that people will say that our presence brought a distinct sense of Christ. The main requirement for this transformation is our yielding and surrendering to Christ absolutely. What is most essential is the born again experience for every Christian, which is precious in Godís sight. If such is its importance, how can there be any one among us, who is not yet born again? May this be a heart-searching question. A spiritual Christian is one who displays Jesus, living through His divine life, and accompanied by the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit, producing the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit of Christ. Spiritual Christians, through a born again experience, become true children of God, for whom God has prepared heaven (Psa.103:19).
The present day church is mostly religious-prone, ignoring spirituality, with no hope of eternity to its members. It is because there is no cross (self-denial) in religion. It is therefore impossible for anyone to go to heaven that way.
Let us begin the New Year as dedicated Christians, to spiritually impact the world around us, which is facing serious spiritual famine, causing us much concern. Godís power within us can effectively empower us to do this for Godís glory. May this message serve to enlighten the eyes of the heart of the revered readers of Light of Life, to initiate individually, a wave of Christian revival, most wanted now in our churches, before the glorious return of Christ, which is imminent.
May we adopt this Motto for the New Year:
Do all the good you can, by all the means you can,
In all the ways you can, in every place you can,
At all the times you can, to everyone you can,
As long as you ever can--do all the good you can.