Fresh Starts and New Habits
I am writing this article while also preparing for the first Wednesday evening Prayer Meeting and Bible Study of 2017. For the study, we will be examining sections of Isaiah 43. After the chapter opens with a powerful expression of God’s care for us and an assurance that we are precious and honored in God’s sight, God reminds Israel and us through Isaiah that we are witnesses to what God has done in the past, but that we must not focus on the past. Instead, we are told in Isaiah 43:18-19 that we should “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Then, God tells us in 43:20-21 that He is doing these things for “my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.”
I often find myself drawn to these words at the beginning of a new year. While I get the impression that many people no longer make formal new year’s resolutions, I still think that we often take some time to reflect on what changes we might need to make as a new year begins. There is something significant in being reminded that we get a fresh start and a chance to set new priorities or develop some new habits.
As Christians and as a church, however, we are invited to approach the new year not only reflecting on what changes we might make, but also on what new things or new callings God might have in store for us. I would encourage you to spend some time in the next few days reading and meditating on the words of Isaiah 43, particularly verses 1-5, 10-25. Let us commit ourselves to praying daily that God will show us individually and as a church what new things God can and will do in us and through us this year. Ask God to expand our vision and inspire us to greater faithfulness in discipleship, ministry, and missions, and then listen for God’s still, small voice and pay attention to God’s nudging to see what new things might be possible for you and for Hope Valley Baptist Church in 2017. As you sense God’s leading and guidance, please share those ideas with me and with others in our congregation as we discern together the movement of God’s Spirit. Together, may we then devote ourselves to following, praising, and serving God together.