Question to ask ourselves in the coming New Year is found in Romans 8:35: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword.”
It is incredible to think that the year 2015 is quickly coming to a close for everyone around the world, and New Year’s Eve will be a myriad of various traditions/customs and celebratory parties around the globe. For one night, everyone’s thoughts will be about ending the old year (2015) and looking ahead to what can be accomplished in the New Year (2016).
As Christians we are taught to “forget those things which are behind and run the race which is set before us.” For many, the New Year will bring a number of changes in their lives–financial gain or loss, personal goal setting, and physical/mental changes for themselves or loved ones.
What if we would take the year 2015 and look back at all of the experiences we have had throughout the year, both good and bad, and then take those learned experiences with us into the New Year? What would we be able to accomplish? Would we try to emulate those learned experiences in a positive or a negative way? Would we try to do the same things over again, or would we re-think some situations and circumstances in our lives and try to do them over with a new perspective?
The Book of Romans, written by Paul, teaches us that everything we need to know about God’s great plan for redemption lies in its sixteen chapters. Paul talks about God’s wrath against mankind and God’s judgment and how that no one is righteous, not even those who “follow the law.” Romans 3:21-22, and 24 says simply that Jesus died as a sacrifice to pay sin’s penalty and to those who believe and receive his offer, he justifies us. In Romans 5:8 it says that “…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We now have access to God, peace with God, access by faith into God’s very presence, and we can be joyful even when we face hardships in our loves. He keeps pouring his love into our hearts.
Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” We are controlled by the Spirit who lives within us. We can then look back at what has happened in this past year and take those life-changing lessons and apply them to the New Year. Heartaches and disappointments throughout this past year can even be turned into positive ones because we will be able to share those heartaches with those who may have to go through the same struggles in the coming year. Why? Because we have the love and compassion of Christ in our hearts.
Romans 12:9-13: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
If you continue reading in Romans, it also tells us that we are to “rejoice” with those who rejoice; “mourn” with those who mourn; and “live in harmony” with one another. Romans 12:20 sums it all up by saying, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” These instructions were given so that we can truly show our neighbors the hospitality that Christ would have us show them. Romans 13:9-10: “Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
In summary then, how do we answer the question that I asked at the beginning and apply it to any given situation in the coming New Year? The answer can be found in Romans 8:37-39:
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
As we all begin to examine our hearts and turn our eyes toward the coming New Year, let us remember the words written in Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I believe that this applies to every area of our lives. God wants us to love others as ourselves. He wants us to help those less fortunate, and He wants us to share the hope of redemption with others.
God bless you in the coming New Year (2016) and may God bless you richly in every area of your lives.