Many would say adios to 2016. I think that makes sense in many ways as I look at dear friends with very trying health issues, deaths, political chaos, more moral ground given up to political correctness, increasing national debt, viral pandemics, Middle East continuing wars, earthquakes and hurricanes. Yes, it was the worst of years and the best of years.
“And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:4-8).
It is unfolding just as the Lord has prophetically told us. The beginning of “birth pangs” is here as the end times commence. For some it is frightening, for me it is with a sense of hope and even “joy.” Why would I feel this way? All these signs tell us to look up for our redemption draws close. Yes, Jesus is returning very soon to take His redeemed with Him to heaven and to begin the promised tribulation on earth as He pours out His wrath. So why can I entitle this essay a “Year of Bounty”? Expectation and prophetic truths are unfolding just as Jesus said. I read what the Psalmist says in Psalm 65:11-14 (NKJV),
“You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.
They drop on the pastures of the wilderness,
And the little hills rejoice on every side.
The pastures are clothed with flocks;
The valleys also are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, they also sing.”
The NIV calls it God’s “bounty.” Just read and meditate on these words of promise and plenty. They cover the whole earth from shore to shore, valley to wilderness mountain. God is saying that He will bring abundance to us. This “goodness” is to prosper us and to make us joyful. That is why I have chosen the word “Joy” for 2017. It is because “The joy of the Lord is my (your) strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Yes, trials and suffering are certain, but God’s peaceful and powerful presence in our weakness is also. James tells us to “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters when you come into trials of every kind, for the testing of your faith develops perseverance and staying power must become strong so that you may grow up” (James 1:2-4 paraphrase mine). And he goes on to say, since this is a very difficult teaching that, “If any of you lacks wisdom on what to do, ask God and He will generously tell you what to do with love if you do not doubt” (James 1:5-6 paraphrase mine). Ask with trust and confidence that God has the answers and will provide all you need to deal with the trials, bountifully.
Joyfully, I move into the New Year, even though there are many very difficult issues in my life and those around me. God will provide the lamb (answer) and He already has. God has provided His Son as a sacrifice and redeemer-healer. He has provided a living abundance for all who would call upon His name and trust Him as Lord and Savior. Just call out. Better yet, be like those chosen ones in Psalm 65 “They shout for joy, they also sing.”
Happy New Year!!