2023

Mark 8:18 “Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?

I heard a phrase in a sermon and thought to myself, what is my expectation for 2023?

Our expectations shape the perception of our experiences.”

I’ve heard some people say they hope the new year will be a year of vision, one where they can see more clearly, but clarity is often used when looking backward, not forward.

Having Hindsight

When looking back at our successes and failures, the hope is that we might gain wisdom from our experiences. What is it that leads to failure, or what did I do that lead to having joy, peace, and contentment? If all we do is live the way we have always done and hope for the best, this might be construed as foolishness.

Every new year’s eve many watch fireworks shows, or see a ball drop, or some other form of celebration that marks the end of one year and the beginning of another. The hope is always that maybe, somehow, everything will be better tomorrow. Should we expect this world to change because the calendar looks a little different?

Matthew 24:4-8 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.”

Do you know what time and era Jesus was referring to in Matthew 24?

—–NOW!

Yes, the times Jesus was referring to is the world we live in today, this world is not going to get better, we aren’t going to see peace arise in our land and no president is going to change the world to make it a better place. I’m sorry if that is discouraging to you, but this world is not our home, nor is it going to last….it has been corrupt for thousands of years.

This world is on a pathway to complete annihilation. The Lord is going to melt it completely down, like a metalsmith takes a piece of scrap and reforms it into something other than it’s original form.

2 Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”

I have had many dear friends who are much older than I am. Looking back, I needed their wisdom, and I needed to see what maturity looked like. In talking with these men of wisdom I’ve learned what my country looked like before I knew it. The culture was very different back in their day, the people acted differently, and our government and laws were quite different as well.

America at one time was a very ‘religious’ nation. I am not a fan of the term “religion”, it is not an endearing term for it has been corrupted by men who think they know better than God.

I am a fan of Jesus! Jesus isn’t a religion, He embodies holiness, justice, power, love, and a host of other attributes that mankind can only strive after. To know Jesus is to be in a relationship with Him, to be led by Him, and to serve Him. Going to church helps with getting to know Him but it isn’t the main source for relationship, reading the Bible is a great way to get to know Jesus but likewise is not Him. Lots of people go to church and read the Bible and do not know Him.

To know Christ is to be filled with His presence.

The anointing of the Spirit.

How does someone know they are saved?—-By His Spirit dwelling within them.

Romans 8:9 “You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

When we reflect back on the year, we can look and see if our expectations actually became our reality. How many times have you made new year’s resolutions, only to break them? There is a long running joke on how long a resolution lasts before it ends.

Isn’t the definition of a fool one who repeats the same thing over and over, expecting a different result?

Solomon gives us a little dose of biblical reality:

Ecclesiastes 2:16 “For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever, Since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come. And how does a wise man die? As the fool!”

Whether someone is wise in their own eyes or an outright fool, eventually their legacy will disappear like others in history. This begs the question…how do people leave a lasting legacy?

We are not called to leave a legacy that glories our name, we are called to glorify Jesus to our generation today. The people we live around, our neighbors, co-workers, and anyone else the Lord so chooses to bring into our realm of influence are those to whom we are called. If we will be found faithful now, then we can go on in peace knowing we did what we were purposed to do.

1 Thessalonians 2:19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?”

If by some way your legacy is remembered by more than a couple generations, you really won’t care anyhow….you will be gone. Any of the ways people leave lasting legacies is usually only because the world celebrated their accomplishments. Do you really care that Einstein helped with creating the first atomic bomb? You may think he was a really smart guy or you might be intrigued by his hairstyle but ultimately all that matters is how it affects your reality today.

The only good legacies are those of faithfulness, love, and compassion that comes by the grace found only in Christ. He is the One who controls our destiny, He is the One who will preside as judge over all mankind.

Ecclesiastes 1:11There is no remembrance of former things, Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come By those who will come after.”

How can we grow from our experiences?

Looking back on this past year, it would have been very difficult to predict what was to occur. We all have watched the news and experienced the continued pandemic, threats of nuclear war, and multiple conflicts arising. Like every year, the world is unpredictable and so we look to what is stable and remains.

What is clear is regardless of how bad a time or era is, God doesn’t change with the season. The knowledge of God’s enduring character is a stabilizing force in a world that is ever changing.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

Jesus is like that fixed star in the sky by which to navigate. His law is steadfast, His throne is still sovereign, and His mercies are new every morning——great is His faithfulness yesterday, today, and forever.

If you keep your eyes on Jesus, the chaos of this world will be nothing more than a cinematic blur in the background of life, the true life that is given to those who believe.

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Regardless of what 2024 holds, Jesus will continue to remain the same and His commands also remain the same—fear not.

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