So, how was your first week of the new year? Another week closer to God’s Kingdom? Another week of good works, building towards a more Christ-like personality? Another week of laying down strong growth towards the
character God wants you to be?

Last Sunday Stuart Walker exhorted us to seize the opportunity of the New Year to resolve to commit ourselves to a closer walk with Jesus towards God’s Kingdom.

A week later it is easy to reflect on how tough that walk can be. Not just thwarted by wilful acts of disobedience, but hampered by the seemingly never-ending onslaught of daily life, preventing us from doing the things we want to do and pushing us into actions we never intended.

Amidst these challenges, stop, and ponder. God has showered upon us rich blessings – a knowledge of the Word, rich fellowship, the necessities for daily life, and forgiveness of our mistakes through Christ, What rich blessings! Furthermore, all those slips and mistakes we make, despite being so unintended and so unwelcome, are helping us towards the characters God wants us to be – provided we learn from the experiences. Like a tree growing in the forest, some years are good for growth, some less so. But even the tough times produce growth – as we adapt our characters to cope with the
knocks we take, Charles suggested in last Sunday’s family service.

We need not lose heart. Look back over the years, at where you have come from, and think about where God is taking you. Think of that ancient Great Basin Bristlecone Pine, known as Methuselah (left). What has it gone through that has influenced the development of the growth rings that run through its trunk, as it stands in California today, aged 4,844 years! Our mortal lives are shorter, but filled with incident. So, surely, our three top priorities must be to:

  • Recognise more clearly the hand of God in our lives and the affairs of the world around us;
  • Review the many blessings we have in our daily lives;
  • Reaffirm our number one priority to be developing our relationship with God.

Perhaps then we will see that come what may, we are continuing to lay down successive rings of growth, some stronger than others, but all contributing to the overall character God so wants us to become.
As a result, perhaps we can approach the year ahead with greater confidence, And we can have in mind the image painted so clearly in Jeremiah 17:7, as suggested by Julia Ricci in last week’s Prayer Circle e-mail.

May God be with us all as we strive to walk in his paths until Christ returns.