To Dr. Charles Stanley of Intouch Ministries – thank you for helping to keep me grounded…Kaynijo
The beginning of a new year can be very welcome. For many it represents a fresh start, a chance to heal, or an opportunity to make things right. Others may look forward to 2011 and wonder what adventures and possibilities it will bring. I personally enjoy thinking about what God will teach me in the weeks and months to come and how I will grow closer to Him.
Of course, none of us knows what the future will actually hold. But there is one thing you and I can recognize as certain—we will be making many decisions in the days ahead. We are continually presented with choices in our families, jobs, finances, and even in our relationships with the Father.
The question we must ask ourselves if we want to make 2011 the very best year possible is: Where does the Lord fit in the decisions we make?
The truth is, we will never go wrong as long as we obey God. The opposite is just as true—we will never do right if we choose to live in rebellion against Him. We see this principle confirmed time after time throughout the pages of Scripture.
For example, when the Lord set the people of Israel free from their bondage in Egypt, He sent Moses to be their deliverer and lead them to the land of their forefathers in Canaan. He promised, “I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to . . . a land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex. 3:17).
But when the Israelites arrived at the border of the region the Lord had guaranteed them, they were too fearful to take possession of it. They focused on the consequences of challenging the formidable inhabitants, rather than on the power and might of their living God, and refused to go in. Their act of disobedience cost them 40 years of wandering in the desert, as well as many lives.
When they returned to the border of Canaan four decade later, the Israelites were finally ready to submit to the Father’s plans. They obeyed God and He gave them the Promised Land, just as He said He would. In fact, Joshua gratefully proclaimed, “Not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed” (Josh. 23:14).
What choices do you face in the days ahead? How can you be sure that 2011 will be the very best year possible? There is only one way: Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him. You and I can probably agree that this is always the right course of action. But how can you be sure to stay on track?
The first thing to recognize is that your willingness to submit to the Lord depends on what you believe about Him. Do you accept the fact that God is in control of all things? Many find this basic principle a difficult hurdle to overcome because of the troubles they face and the injustices they see in the world. In fact, you may be experiencing inexplicably challenging circumstances and not understand why the Father has allowed them. But if you trust God is sovereign and all-powerful, then you will have faith that He will cause “all things to work together for good to those who love” Him (Rom. 8:28).
This leads to the second point—the fact that you must continue to trust the Father, regardless of your circumstances. You must accept that the Lord not only has the power to help you, but He is also willing to provide the very best for you. Do you have faith in His character? Do you have confidence that God will keep His promises to you? You cannot obey someone you do not trust.
How do you increase your faith? By taking the third step, which is growing in your love toward the Father. You learn to confide in the Lord more deeply by spending time with Him— by praying and reading His Word. It is crucial that you develop an intimate relationship with Him so that when hardships arise, you won’t be tempted to let go of Him.
This means that you don’t just talk to God, but you also listen to Him.This is the fourth point to staying on track—you must pay attention to what He is communicating to you. Think about it. You cannot possibly know how to obey the Father if you never take time to hear what He’s saying. You cannot increase your love or your trust in Him if you are not listening to Him either.
Finally, realize obeying the Lord will require courage and full surrender.You must come to the point where you choose to believe in God more than you trust your own abilities and circumstances. This is ultimately the only way to grow in your faith. Like the Israelites, you may experience troubles far beyond your capability to bear. However, the Father has allowed them so that you will learn to depend upon His strength, wisdom, power, and love in every situation.
What decisions will you have to make in 2011? How can you be sure to make it the best year it can possibly be? By obeying God and leaving all the consequences to Him. Believe in His sovereignty. Increase in your trust for Him. Grow deeper in you intimate relationship with Him. Listen to Him intently. And surrender yourself to Him fully and courageously. Welcome the new year by submitting yourself to the Father’s plan because that is always the best path for your life. May the Lord bless you and your family greatly as you seek and serve Him faithfully.
Charles F. Stanley