Reflections on a New Year
Warren and I are now entering our
thirteenth year as co-editors of Expository Files. Neither of us are
superstitious so we are not skipping the thirteenth volume and going directly
from twelve to fourteen. We do not expect to suffer any ill effects as a
consequence - "knock on wood!". There are now three main active sites on the
internet where issues can be found, as well as a couple older sites with older
issues but no new material being added. I want to thank our contributors and
readers for their gracious support.
I sometimes think about how much better this world would be if we truly took advantage of all our opportunities. Technology has advanced and life could be so much more comfortable if we would let it. But instead, we have witnessed hatred turn these advances into weapons as the innocent are threatened every day. I know this weighs heavily on the minds of many, and it is upsetting that people can become so depraved as to behave that way. It seems as if honor, compassion and kindness are sometimes such foreign concepts to many.
As we enter a new year, many will make this a time of reflecting, resolving and meditating. We do not and cannot know what this year holds for the world, the nation and our own selves. But we can be no better prepared for whatever may come than to walk by faith in God.
Discerning the Time
"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven - a time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh..." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4; cf. vss. 5-8).
Because of the nature of the world we live in, it is not always the right time to laugh, and it is not always the right time to build. Sometimes the thing that needs to be done is to weep, and sometimes to tear down instead of build. Often, the world builds where it needs to be tearing down, and tears down that which needs to be built. The Scriptures tell us, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!" (Isaiah 5:20,21).
Life is made up of various times and events. It is no success to
laugh when one ought to be weeping, or to continue to build when we ought to
simply tear down and start over. One key to success is to know and respond to an
event with the appropriate action. In our own nation, blessed so abundantly by
God, there is a crying need to be able to tell the difference between what is
good and what is evil. Moral confusion has weakened the nation from within, and
destroyed the lives of so many.
God's Commandments Are Good for Us
"So the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today." (Deuteronomy 6:24).
Some people think it is hard being a Christian. In some ways they are right. It calls for more strength, courage and sacrifice. Dedication and discipleship go hand in hand.
But in other ways it is easier (Matthew 11:28-30). There are benefits that make us confident and give us peace and joy. Our lives are lifted up and given meaning and purpose in Jesus and the keeping of His commandments (1 John 5:3-4). The emotional and spiritual benefits of faith are real. Singing the song "I'm Happy Today"very simply tells why. Because "In Jesus Christ, I'm happy today, because He's washed, my sins away." Forgiveness brings hope, and hope brings confidence, peace and joy.
The Bible often portrays life as a journey. While on this
journey, we must not lose sight of God. We are not at home in this world, but we
have no hope beyond it except by faith (Hebrews 11:9-10; 13-14; 16). The best
thing we can do for ourselves and our loved ones in this coming year is to fix
"our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith." (Hebrews 12:2). He has
already completed the journey. He knows how to get home. He is showing us the
way. We had best listen to Him!
Have a happy and blessed new year... but more than that, let it be faithfully lived in Christ Jesus so it may take us homeward.
By Jon W. Quinn
The Final Page
From Expository Files 13.1; January 2006