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Looking back and looking forward

By Michael J Brooks

The Roman goddess Janus had two faces; with one he looked behind and with the other he looked forward. How fitting that the first month in the year is named for him. January is a time we evaluate what we have experienced and make plans about what we want to experience.

Looking back, we see a mixture of success and failure, prosperity and want, good choices and bad. We all experience bad things because that’s how life is. People we love get hurt or grow sick. And sometimes we get hurt or grow sick. As a friend of mine says, all it takes is one microbe to change our lives forever. We most often don’t understand why bad things happen to good people.

But sometimes we face bad things in life because we choose them. Every Christian knows the struggle the Apostle Paul described in Romans 7: the evil I want to avoid, I do, and the good I seek to do, I don’t do. Believers know God is working in our lives to make us more saintly, but we also know our basic nature is disobedience to the Lord. For this reason, we rejoice that we have a God of mercy. He doesn’t give up, but instead continues to patiently work in us.

So, we begin the new year with praise for the good and repentance for the wrong. And we look forward to a new chapter called 2019.

One way we can ensure it will be a good year is to make new covenants with God. The Bible is filled with covenants. God’s people made promises to God and asked his help to make them reality. We do the same in the new year ahead.

We can promise to have daily time of Bible reading and prayer. Some call this a “quiet time,” and in our busy world we all need this. We can promise to love our church more and support her worship and study times and her ministries. Every Christian is gifted in some way to minister, and we find fulfillment in discovering and using our unique gifts in ministry to others. And we can promise to be more faithful to God in our finances, moving toward the biblical model of the tithe to honor him.

And we can promise to be loving servants toward others. We often see on the highways how some have such short fuses! The slightest impediment brings a rash of anger. As followers of Christ, we must treat others with kindness. We should ask God’s help as we try to grow in people skills. We become more Christlike when we consider the needs of others greater than our own (Philippians 2:3).

Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.

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