Friends Magazine Hong Kong
By Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva
January 2012 Edition
To a writer, nothing is more intimidating than a blank sheet of paper … or a flickering cursor on the screen of a new blank document. It’s daunting to start right.
In a way, we are all writers with new stories to tell at the beginning of a new year. We are given a clean slate, a fresh start, a new beginning – and it all depends on what we write on the blank sheet of paper that we’ve been given that spells the difference for most of us.
What do we do with this gift of a new year? The Bible teaches us three practical steps to take in order to get ourselves aligned with God’s desires for us.
First, replace fear with faith. It’s a given: Anything new is daunting and anything uncertain is scary. It’s human nature to doubt. Take the disciple Thomas for example. Yet when we let go of fear and begin to live a life of faith, walking by it and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), we are empowered to do things that are even beyond our capability. Jesus Himself has said, “Anything is possible if a person believes” (Mark 9:23).
We must remember that whichever controls us of the two, masters us. It’s just impossible for faith and fear to go together. Hence we cannot live in faith, trusting God for every detail of our lives, while we live in fear of what’s to come. It’s just out of sync.
When God told Abram to leave his native land (relatives and family included) to go to a “land that I will show you” (instruction can’t go vaguer than that), it was faith that made Abram obey (Genesis 12).
As a reward, Genesis 24:1 tells us that, “Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way.” And fast-forward to generations after him, Galatians 3:9 commends him still: “So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”
Second, replace worry with worship. The person who said that, “worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but gets you nowhere” is wise. And Luke 12:25 probes: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” The answer to this, of course, is none.
Simple math will tell us that if we give an hour of our lives to worry, anxious about “what ifs” in the future, we waste sixty minutes of our earth time. And for us to appreciate the importance of an hour, let’s imagine ourselves missing our train because of a five-minute delay at the ticket counter.
Just as fear and faith can’t go together, so are worry and worship. Worry is a response to fear; worship is the response of faith. It is impossible to worship the LORD for His goodness, while our thoughts are wrapped around the worries that come with new things. If we truly trust God, we will worship Him unconditionally. [Philippians 4:6-7]
Third, replace hopelessness with happiness. Hopelessness is not in the vocabulary of someone who has complete faith in God and worships Him for who He is. Because a person who truly trusts in the LORD and rests in the guarantee of His sovereignty, naturally remains in the attitude of faith and worship.
Bible scholars believe that the Apostle Paul was imprisoned in a cold and dark dungeon, nothing better than a sewer, when he wrote the words: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). What kept him rejoicing even in the midst of an impossible situation? Paul knew his God.
At this early, deal with the fact that 2012 will be full of new challenges, even trials and tests. There is no other way for our lives to be enriched and our faith to be strengthened. Our crowns are determined by the battles we won.
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
So don’t be cowed by fear. If you truly trust in the LORD and fully believe in Him, nothing in this world will move you. Respond in worship to Him, rejoicing at all times. Write your life’s best story this 2012!
God bless you more marvelously!