We have passed from 2017 to 2018 and we pray that this year will see the growth of God’s kingdom. The year has begun with a number of funerals, and we pray for those missing loved ones, and we honour the faith of our fellow-believers who have died, giving thanks for all they have meant to us. They have passed, by the grace of God, not from one year to the next, but from life in a fallen world which crucified God’s Messiah, into a world where that Messiah, now risen and glorified, reigns forever, and they reign with him in his loving presence.
Time moves on, another year comes, and our mortality presses on us. Make sure that you know where you are going after you die. Jesus speaks in his own teaching about heaven (he came from it and was returning to it), and about hell (e.g. it is better to cut off what causes you to sin, than to be thrown into hell, Matthew 5:29). He himself died, and then rose, so that all who believe in him should know that they are safe forever. At the grave of his friend Lazarus, he said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die’ (John 10:25-26). Amazing words. But he then follows them immediately with a four-word question. Why don’t you look it up in a Bible and see what Jesus’s question is!? It might change your eternal destiny.
And if you know that your eternal destiny is safe, that does not mean you can sit back and do nothing. The New Testament commands us to persevere in faith and love and hope, and to grow in the knowledge of God. How will 2018 present you with opportunities to do that? And will you take those opportunities? Eternal life is not given to those who used to go to church and pray and serve and love God. Hebrews 10:36 tell us: ‘You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what he has promised.’ Persevere, keep going, hold on to the Lord, trust him and serve him this year, for he is one who loves us, and gives peace, purpose and joy.
With my best wishes – James.