Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” Ephesians 3:20 KJV.
“His grace has given us such unfailing encouragement and such bright hopes,” 2 Thessalonians 2:16 NEB.
A new year. A time to add new items to the menu of life, and hope for a better experience than last year. Time to examine the printout of the past with its successes and failures, and to punch into the computer new plans and desires.
January 2021 — a time, above all times, to hope for better things. God sends the Earth around the sun, and starts a new year every 365 days to give us a fresh opportunity to consider and begin anew. Summer and winter, seedtime and harvest, roll around by His decree. As He did ancient Israel, He invites us to go with Him into the year that He has, in His grace, given us.
Then, what might you be hoping for this year? The list probably churns through your mind at the very asking of the question. Like every rational being on Earth, you have a future filled with hope.
My hope for 2021 is to enjoy new beginnings in a positive way with Jesus Christ. A fresh start in Jesus may sting a little as the imperfections of our characters are cleaned out. When this stinging comes, instead of fretting or becoming discouraged, we should rejoice that His cleansing power is working in us, purifying our hearts so that we will be able to serve Him better, and reflect His love to others around us. I am so very thankful that the thoughts of God toward us are thoughts of peace accompanied by a future of hope.
Hope focuses on spiritual as well as worldly objects. The Bible speaks of the hope that God gives or that man places in God. A little reading of the Word will soon show you that such hope isn’t a way of raising a question mark over God’s future deeds. Not at all. Rather, hope assures us that God waits for us in the future, ready to do for us all the good things that He has done in the past. It’s a way of saying, “Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, today, and forever.”
So, He gives us “bright hopes.” They sparkle in the promises of God. They write a check onto which God invites us to write our name.
God-inspired hope tells us of the activity of grace. What God did for us in Jesus becomes our hope for today and every day of our future. Day by day He presents us faultless before the throne of His grace. Day by day we live in Him. Day by day He gives us victory.
Hope also brings the future into our today. In Christ, we have eternal life. In Christ, we walk in newness of life. Hope in God reaches across the unknowable tomorrow, and gives us the blessings of God’s new world today.
Such are God’s bright hopes. Fill out your shopping list of promises and let God say, “Yes,” to them in Christ Jesus. The price is paid, and they are all yours.
Finally, as we focus on reconnecting with missing members in 2021, may we not slack in hastening the Good News to every backslider that God has forgiven him/her and that He longs for his/her return.
The Word of God declares, “I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel,” Hosea 14:4, 5. So here is my appeal: Won’t you try and get in touch with the prodigal son, and let him know that his loving Father is longing for him to come home? Won’t you find the one sheep that has strayed? Please know, as we enter 2021, the heavenly Shepherd will help you. –RCS
Ron C. Smith, D.Min., Ph.D. President of the Southern Union Conference
Southern Union | January 2021