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hope for churches in stress


January 1 is a chance to make a fresh start. Typically, at the start of the year, people determine to improve their lives by healthier habits, better relationships, improved finances, or personal goals.

From our own experience, we know that many people falter in these good intentions. For anyone who follows Jesus, I would suggest that the likelihood of success improves significantly when fresh resolves, at any time of year, align with the overall purpose of our life.

We see this, over and over, in the Bible. Abraham organized his life around the promise of God to “inherit” the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1-2). Despite setbacks, Joseph persisted toward a destiny of leadership (Genesis 37:5-11).

Moses pushed through stiff opposition to lead the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 3:7-10). David sought to do the will of God as shepherd of Israel (1 Samual 16:13; Acts 13:22). Isaiah obeyed the call to always speak at the Lord’s command (Isaiah 6:8).

Peter embraced Jesus’ charge to shepherd the flock of God (John 21:15-17; 1 Peter 5:1-3). Paul never wavered from his ambition to preach the gospel (Philippians 3:10; Ephesians 3:7-13). He urged Timothy to persist in the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

The question “Why?” enables us to assess the importance, priority, and motivations of our short-term aims. When we are clear about why we are taking steps to change, these efforts can be enfolded into the deeper, sustaining motivations of our life.

In this way, at every point of recalibration, we choose to fulfill God’s purpose for us (Ephesians 2:10). We keep our focus on Jesus so that his will is done on earth (Matthew 6:10).


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