Monday, January 02, 2012

"Stability of your times," a New Year's newsletter

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou! Happy New Year! As we begin the new year, I pray that your lives would be renewed in another “year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:19). While there’s no need to bemoan or elaborate the fact that the last few years have been tough for many, it remains true that many are out of work or struggling financially because of our bad economy. Nevertheless, we can all count many blessings that we’ve experienced. Even apart from any material blessing, we have the greatest spiritual treasure of all, if we have faith in Christ Jesus. Then we know that God is for us. And if God is for us, who can stand against us?

In several sermons throughout Advent and Christmas, we’ve heard from the ancient prophet Isaiah, who spoke words of comfort to the Jews during trying times. They experienced hardship on a far greater scale than we presently know. They experienced the loss of their harvest (and attendant famine), the threat and attack of their enemies from Assyria and then Babylon, and finally the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, and the deportation to Babylon. The people waited for the Lord and called for Him to be gracious in their time of trouble (Isaiah 33:2). Likewise we may cry out for God’s grace and help. We may wait for the fulfillment of His promises, not yet seeing them.

While reading through Isaiah 33, one phrase really struck me as we begin this new year. The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness, and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure (Isaiah 33:5-6). Isaiah was writing in very unstable times. But he promised that the Lord will be the stability of your times. When uncertainty, when change, upheaval, tragedy, or difficulty strike us, it is the Lord who is our stability. He is unchanging, eternal, our Rock, our fortress and refuge. No other earthly refuge can provide us with that comfort and stability. Nowhere else but the Lord, will we find abundant salvation.

My prayer is that during the next year, whatever good or whatever evil may befall you—whether you enjoy blessing or walk in hardship, that the Lord would be the stability of your times. That day and night, week, month and year, that He would be your constant. That you would look to Him always, and lay all your cares and anxieties on Him for He cares for you (1 Pet. 5:7). Don’t let worries weigh you down, but remember that today has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34). Truly for God’s people, to trust in Him is our great treasure and our deliverance. Happy New Year!

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