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For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

It’s a new year! This past week I read a headline that stated something like, “Pollsters report that people are hoping for a better year in 2014.” I smirked when I read it. I have this (perhaps) weird habit of wondering if the opposite headlines are ever written. Ever seen a headline that read “The latest survey shows people hoping everything get’s tanked in the next 12 months?” Of course not! We always hope for a better tomorrow.

As children we hoped the new school year, or new school would be better for us. As parents we work hard to try to make a better life for our children and grandchildren. Many have sought new relationships, new careers or relocation to make for a better life.

As we enter the New Year, the prophet Isaiah gives us some guidance worth looking at. He’s writing to a people who are exiled from the country promised them by Jehovah God. Imagine how parents felt as they told their children, “Yes, YHWH promised us a new land. He miraculously delivered us from Egyptian captivity. When King David and Solomon were in control we enjoyed prestige, power and prosperity. Those were the years.”

Then the question. “But what happened Father? Why are we exiles now? Why did God abandon us?

With hung head the father would say, “Because, my son, we failed. YHWH told us that if we refused to follow his ways we would endure exile. Then, in tears he repeats, ‘We failed and now there is no hope.”

It’s to this situation that Isaiah writes, [YHWH states:] For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)

What an encouragement to a people who were beaten up, stomped down and hopeless. God’s plan was already working. It was something not easily seen to the casual observer perhaps, but it was happening.

When we focus on our weakness and our failures we fail to experience God’s grace. Dwelling on the past deprives us of the future God has in mind for us.

Whatever has happened in the past needs to be left behind. Whatever situation you are currently in needs to be handed over to a merciful Father whose main desire in life it to give us freedom. He is a God who is even now preparing the road we must follow to make it through the wilderness of our future.

Focusing on the past or our current situation won’t allow us to see how God is using those very things that entangle us to give us victory. Everything we are doing now is preparation for what God is doing for our future.

PRAYER: Father God, I ask that you would help each of us see our past and current situations as mere stepping stones to seeing your plan unveiled in the future. Help us to enter what lay ahead with confidence knowing that you are going to do something new in our lives. Amen.


But you have made me very happy, happier than they are, even with all their grain and new wine. Psalm 4:7(NCV)

With 2012 now upon us many look back over the past year and reminisce about the highlights and the challenges; our victories and our failures; those things we can take pride in and those that bring shame and remorse; events and people that make us happy and those that still conjure up feelings of anger and hate.

Nearly all of us are looking to the horizon and wonder how the economic and political climate will affect our lives. Some are battling the pain of physical illness or relational distress.

So where is the ‘happy’ in ‘Happy New Year’? How much would you give today in order to assure yourself that 2012 will indeed be a ‘happy’ new year? No doubt you’d say, “Well, I’d give all I had for that assurance! But no one can promise that.”

To a certain point, of course, you would be correct. There are no guarantees in life. But because of the grace offered to us by Jesus Christ there are guarantees we can take to the bank, so to speak.

Psalm four is referred to as an evening song. It was a song that was often sung at the end of the day. A song that, in a sense would lead the singer to reflect back over the past day. He would reflect on the good and the bad events as well the joyful and the stressful ones.

Verse 7 is the climax of the song. The Psalmist comes to the conclusion that he is happier with what God has given him than anyone around him who is blessed with the most prosperous life.

How can he make such a statement? First of all he is reminded of the source of true joy and happiness. That source is God, through Jesus Christ. The prosperity of the world is empty and fleeting. But, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He isn’t changed by circumstances, political upheaval, natural disaster or physical adversity. He alone is the source of our happiness.

Secondly, the Psalmist reminds himself (and us) that the joy God gives is for today. He doesn’t say ‘You will’ or ‘You did in the past’. He states plainly, You ‘have’. Present tense. For today, not tomorrow or some point in the future.

Thirdly, and this may be the most important, the Psalmist reminds us of the location or the seat of our hope and joy. Again, contrary to human wisdom, we are reminded that true joy, happiness and hope comes from within. It’s in our hearts. You can take my home. You can take my health. You can take my career and my financial stability. But you can’t take what’s inside me.

Lastly, our hope and joy is superior to anything the world can offer either through ‘new religious experiences, political change or social action. Think of it! The best that the world can offer us is like scraps from the table of God. There is nothing on earth that compares to what God has given us through Jesus Christ.

The Grace, mercy and forgiveness we have through him is better than having all the latest toys, the biggest house on the block, the best grades or the corner office. All that is fleeting and temporal. But the hope we have will last for the new year and for all eternity.

The joy of the world can make us look happy, but the joy of the Lord affects the heart.

Thomas Watson once said, “There is as much difference between heavenly comforts and earthly, as between a banquet that is eaten, and one that is painted on the wall.”

PRAYER: Lord God, as we enter into this New Year there are rumblings on the political and economic fronts. We don’t know what natural disasters await us. Thank you for the hope we have in you through Jesus Christ. Empower me with your Spirit to live according that hope. Let me live in such a way that others will be encouraged along the way by the hope they see in me. Amen.


“I leave you peace; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world does. So don’t let your hearts be troubled or afraid. John 14:27 NCV

It will happen all across the world today. Some places will have seen it by the time you read this. In a variety of ways, places and circumstances, ‘the ball will drop’. As people watch it drop they will celebrate the dawn of a new year.

Some will use this as a new beginning. Old habits will be left behind forever (or temporarily at least), diets will be started (or restarted), resolutions will be pledged, prayer vigils for world peace, eradication of hunger, and a variety of other causes will be staged.

But in all the hysteria, in all the celebration, lurking in the corner of people’s minds will be the monster called fear. Oh, he may lay low for awhile, a day or two, just to make you think that things really will get better. But he’ll be back. He may come in the way of a terrorist attack or natural disaster for a world-wide effect. He may come more subtly too. You could lose your job this year or a loved one or…the inevitable, this could be the year others lose you.

I don’t mean to be some Debbie-downer and spoil your celebration today. I do really hope that each of you will have a happy, blessed and safe New Year. There is one way we can all assure ourselves of a happy New Year regardless of what goes on around us and that is to claim the promise Jesus gives us.

Jesus was well aware of what lay ahead for his disciples when he made this promise. He is well aware of what is in store for you this year too. When Jesus promises peace his promise isn’t for external peace, but for a peace deep inside our soul. It’s a peace that comes to us regardless of the external events of our lives.

So, while I sincerely wish all of you a Happy New Year, my real prayer for you is that you will have a Peaceful New Year grounded in the fact that Jesus Christ loves you, gave his live for you, and promises that no matter how bad things get in 2012, he knows what lies ahead and promises to walk with us along the rugged, painful and sometimes terrifying journey. Jesus is the only real source of peace you will ever find and ever need.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus you’ve heard all the prognostications for 2012. Better yet, you’ve been there and back. My prayer for this world is that we will find the peace you have promised by putting our trust in you. May each of us live a life of peace grounded in you so others will find the way to peace with you as well. Amen.


You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. Psalm 4:7

Every year it’s the same thing. People all over the world will gather together to cheer in another year of great, new hopes and expectations. They talk about the new opportunities before them, about how great everything will be, and, for a few moments anyway, forget the pain, the agony and the turmoil that surrounds all of us.

The unfortunate reality is that January 2 or shortly afterwards, reality returns. The credit card bills come in from the Christmas overspending, the health concerns worsen, relationships fail us and the political and economic turmoil goes on. Wouldn’t it be nice if ‘Happy New Year’ were a statement of promise and absolute truth and not a flippant statement of hope in the midst of despair?

Each one of us can have a Happy New Year. That may seem like a bold statement but happiness isn’t about what goes on around us. Happiness is based on what we put our hope on. If we put our hope in material things, or relationships, or religion or even physical health we are destined for disappointment and failure. Anything that is earthly based will fail to bring us true happiness because by its nature it is destined to deteriorate.

The Psalmist compares his happiness to the happiness of those around them. During the time this Psalm was written ‘grain and new wine abounding’ represented everything one could possible ask for in the physical realm. It was a statement that represented the most successful and prosperous things that could happen in the world.

True happiness finds its source on the inside of each of us, not in the fickle, external circumstances that surround us. As Christ-followers we can have peace in the midst of turmoil, wealth in the midst of financial despair, freedom in the midst of addictions because our peace, wealth and freedom come from our faith in Jesus Christ.

Think about it for a moment. As a Christ-follower what is the absolute worst thing that can happen to you? The person without Christ may say relational or financial or physical disaster or even death. But for the Christ-follower none of that really has a lasting impact. The ‘worst that can happen’ for most people (death) is the best that can happen for us because in the death of our physical bodies we get to be united with Jesus in heaven.

The guarantee of a ‘Happy New Year’ comes only when we put our complete faith in Jesus Christ and resolve to grow in relationship to Him. Everything we see, everything will fail, change or go away. Jesus never will. Have a Happy New Year in Jesus!

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I thank you for the promise you have given me that you are with me in every situation. I confess that in my humanness I seek happiness measure success by what I can hold in my hand or see with my eyes. Empower me by your Holy Spirit to base my happiness on you alone and not people, religion or things. I praise you for your love and power to bring true inner happiness to me through your forgiveness and your Holy Spirit. Amen.

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