your challenge for 2021
Normally when January comes around, there is excitement as we consider the possibilities of the future. This year, some of us are filled more with anxiety rather than anticipation. We’re relieved to see 2020 go, and hope that a turn of the calendar will bring stability and a sense of normalcy back to life—but we can’t help feeling a bit skeptical about that.
We wonder if things will get better, worse, or remain the same in our world. The reality is, no one really knows. The uncertainty of what 2021 may bring can be daunting to think about. If I’m honest, I’ve never been so confused and suspicious of everything I hear these days. Between news and social media, I find myself asking, “Who can I trust? Who is telling the truth?” The so-called “facts” and stats are always changing!
Can you relate? That’s why I’m so grateful for the reliability of the Bible. As Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He doesn’t change.
So how do we move forward in uncertain times? As Christians, we can confidently take on each day in faith, knowing what we believe and WHO we believe in!
Recently, I was talking with a friend who is excited because she’s awaiting a grandchild to be born this year. It got me thinking…what if we were anticipating something new that the Lord is going to “birth” in our lives this year? Would that change our outlook?
Like you, I’ve had my share of struggles these past few months. One morning in my quiet time with the Lord, I poured out my frustration, confusion and sadness. I felt so bombarded by all the voices and varying opinions (strong opinions, I might add) and begged the Lord to help me. Speak to me Lord—give me YOUR perspective! I needed the Lord to speak, to tell me what to believe and what was true.
Who are you listening to?
Whose voice and opinion gets your ear? I have noticed (especially lately) that people will repeat what they’ve been exposed to. If you have young children, you know what I’m talking about. Without any coaching, your kids will start repeating your sayings and copy the way you talk. They’re like little parrots; you can hear yourself in the things they say. This can be a good thing—or a very bad thing!
Who are you repeating?
When we saturate ourselves in Scripture, it will fill our heart. I have always believed that if you are a woman of the Word, you will be a woman with a word. The truth of God’s Word will be in your heart and flowing from your lips.
Like the Proverbs 31 woman who, “When she speaks, she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly” (Proverbs 31:26 MSG).
That morning when I felt so discouraged, it was because I thought I needed to be an expert on the pandemic and politics, and it felt so overwhelming! But what I really needed was to hear again what God says in His Word. So I wrote down some of God’s promises, putting my name there to remind me that the Bible is the Lord speaking over me. He said, Melanie . . .
- I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
- I have good plans for your life, to give you a future and hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
- Don’t worry about anything, instead talk to Me about everything (Philippians 4:6).
As God’s promises settled my heart, my focus shifted back onto Him and I found myself listening more clearly. I was reminded of when Jesus prayed for His disciples just before going to the cross.
“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. Just as you sent Me into the world, I am sending them into the world” (John 17:16 NKJV).
In that moment, I felt like God was putting iron in my soul to stand firm and be who I am in Him.
I am not of this world.
Being “of the world” means rejecting God’s authority and making your own rules to live by. And that will keep changing. But God’s Word tells me, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2). In other words, don’t copy the behavior of the world but let God transform you by changing the way you think.
The way you think will have a direct effect on the way you act, talk, respond, where you go and what you post!
I am sent into this world.
We’re not of the world, but we still live in this world. Suffering, sickness, political conflict, and racial tension impacts everyone—but as Christians, we are called to live differently. Even though we’re not part of the world system, that doesn’t mean we isolate ourselves.
“Just as you sent Me into the world, I am sending them into the world” (John 17:18). Jesus’ prayer gives us direction and purpose. Jesus was sent into this world to reveal God the Father and to show the way of salvation. And we are commissioned—sent—into the world to share that truth!
When I was sick and had to be in quarantine, I experienced isolation. No one was coming in and no one was going out! But that’s not how we are to be as Christians. We are sent into every sector of society as ambassadors for Christ. We are His witnesses. A witness gives evidence of what they’ve seen and heard and experienced.
How has your witness been in 2020? Are you living out what you say you believe about Jesus? When unbelievers observe us, there should be something about our speech, demeanor, our values and our confidence that reflects the reality of who Jesus is.
Are we displaying joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control?
We are called to be salt and light in this world. But if we’re hiding away in despair, that can’t happen. The Lord doesn’t want us to live in fear, hide, or sink into depression. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Do not be afraid.
Did you know that is the most repeated command in Scripture? There are scary things in life. We’re not turning a blind eye, head in the sand, minimizing pain. Suffering is real. And the enemy knows that if he can paralyze us in discouragement or fear we will be ineffective for the kingdom. But what does God say?
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
That is a promise we take with us into 2021.
When there’s a choice to be angry, critical, or defensive, what if we instead choose joy, hope, and humility? Let’s not succumb to the cancel culture of our day, where we’re easily offended and quick to disconnect from each other. Let’s continue to abide in Christ, extend grace, and love one another. We mustn’t copy the behavior of the world.
What will your attitude and posture be in 2021? Are you going to drag your feet, tip toe, or walk confidently into this new year? I suggest we run!
Let’s run with confidence, knowing that our God is faithul and His Word is reliable. There will be challenges but there will also be great blessings. We don’t want to miss out—we want to be sent out! There are opportunities to seize and people to serve and love in Jesus’ name.