We kick off 2017 in just a few hours! What will God do in us and through us this coming year? I’ve continued to ponder the words of Simeon who lived in “prayerful expectancy” of the hope of Messiah (Luke 2:25). I’m wondering if Simeon was on to something? What if we might expect to see Jesus every day this year? What if we earnestly looked for Him? What if we made it our goal before we got out of bed each day to pray: “Lord, may I see you today!” And what if we took it to the next level and prayed: “And Lord, when I see you, may it be as You work through me to bless others.”
Can we expect to have a daily encounter with Jesus in the New Year? I hope so. I pray it will be so.
To view the sermon from where I unpacked Simeon’s story, click HERE.
Do you have a “One Word” for 2014? A single, focused idea or goal for the New Year? My word is “intimacy.” As in, “I want to walk closer in intimacy with God the Father.” To do so, I think, means to be stretched in my times of prayer. My hope is that it means significant prayer. True connecting prayer. Two way conversations of prayer between God and me. Lingering prayer. Not check-list prayer.
Intimacy. A good pastor friend of mine used to say it this way: “Into me, see.” As in opening your heart and life to one who truly sees into your heart and soul. For most of us, that’s our spouse. But isn’t it also God? And I believe that His true desire is for us to see as deep into His heart as we acknowledge that He sees into ours.
That’s the deep, intimate, prayer-stretching kind of focus that I desire in my personal walk with God the Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit in 2014.
In the past ten days I have eaten up a book I literally stumbled upon at Barnes and Noble the day after Christmas. Its title grabbed me: Signs, Wonders and a Baptist Preacher, How Jesus Flipped My World Upside Down. The Bible says in John 14:12 (NIV): “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” Have you ever wrestled with these words of Jesus?
My spiritual background has included seasons of beauty in seeing God move supernaturally. It has also included seasons of awful abuse of the Biblical text and manipulating God and people seeking Him in prayer. The bad seasons soured my praying for people for years.
And yet God…
In His grace and love I’m wondering if there is a new season ahead for me personally and others in my circle of friends and family and prayer partners… a time of seeing Him move “in power” as a direct result of walking in intimacy with Abba, Father?
Curiously, it’s been a long time since a single book spoke to me the way this one has. The author’s unassuming approach is delightful. I can’t believe how much I’ve underlined, circled and starred… thoughts and ideas that have struck a chord in my heart. Perhaps they will speak to you?
Author Chad Norris talks about walking the walk that Jesus walked while He was here on earth. Can the supernatural be natural for us? Here are a few direct quotes from the first chapters:
If we had followed Jesus while He was on the earth, what would He have asked us to do? … The only answer I can come up with is that He would have asked us to do what He asked His other disciples to do, even if it led to some awkward moments that left us wondering how we ever got into such a strange situation. (p.43)
I want things that I cannot explain to happen in my life on a daily basis. I want heaven to be attracted to my life in the way it was attracted to Jesus’ life. (p.44)
I yearn to do the things my Master did while He was here. This is not because I want superpowers, this is because I want to follow Jesus. (p.45)
If you long to see more… or maybe just different and faith stretching from God, great! Let’s talk and pray and see where it leads.
I spoke about some of this in a sermon on December 29, 2013. If you want to listen to it you can find it on iTunes. Search “Rich Ronald podcasts.” Look for the sermon called “Gideon’s Power is Our Power Too.”
I’m eager to be more intimate with God the Father in 2014 and see where He guides. How about you?
“Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:5
Isn’t that a wonderful promise? God is big enough to make the rough, smooth. To make the choppy waters a delight. To make purpose out of messes.
The believer is promised, through Christ, that we are made new. Really? What does it mean to be a New Creation in Christ? Paul says: Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (The Message)
Don’t you love the word “anyone” ? We all get a fresh start. We all have the opportunity to be new and different every day in Christ. What a great promise going into a New Year!
And why are we so blessed to receive the newness of a new day, day after day? Keep reading in 2 Corinthians 5 and you see that Paul says it’s all about relationships. God gives us an opportunity to get a fresh start so that we may encourage others and proclaim the Good News of the hope of the Messiah. Look how he finishes the thought:
We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (The Message).
We can look back at the old year and say, “no, this year will be different.” I hope it will be for you. I hope you will find the courage to move beyond the old, the routine, the mundane… those things which may have tangled you up or brought you down.
Let’s look ahead in 2012 with boldness and confidence. God’s grace is fresh for us every single day. “A new life burgeons!” Can you see it?