Happy New Year!
Good morning and welcome to 2021. Today is Monday, January 4, and that means it’s the start of a brand-new year.
For the past 30 years or so, Terese and I always begin the new year with prayer and fasting. Even though we do this each year, it’s not like we turned it into a tradition just for tradition sake, we have a specific purpose—seek the Lord with a little more diligence and passion.
Sometimes we fast five, seven, or ten days. At other times, when we’re feeling super spiritual (lol) it’s more like forty days; and then there’s this year, twenty-one days for 2021. The length of the fast is not the main issue, what’s more important is the mindset—intentionally focusing our attention on God, giving Him the first part of the new year.
Yesterday, on January 3, 2021, the first Sunday of the new year, I shared a message along these same lines. In case you missed it, I wanted to repeat my introduction to the message. You can catch it all on YouTube.
I don’t have a crystal ball (sometimes I wish I did), so I’m not at all sure what this new year has in store for us. I’ll be the first to admit, I am extremely happy to not only close the book on 2020 but lock it down and throw away the key…forever! And, remember, this is coming from a guy who always sees the glass half full. I mean, I fight like crazy to stay on the positive side of the whole glass equation, and I rarely break protocol.
But 2020, now that was a challenging and difficult year. For the majority of the year, the better part of ten months, the glass was definitely half empty. It took every ounce of strength we had just to keep our heads above water.
From a purely spiritual perspective I’m sure God was at work doing something positive last year. My faith tells me he didn’t go on sabbatical in 2020, even though it may have seemed that way. God is in control! He’s still on the throne, and it’s going to take a whole lot more than a merciless pandemic or unhinged US presidential election to oust or depose him. Please believe me when I tell you, God’s plans will always prevail. From the beginning of time, as recorded in the book of Genesis, God has faced on-going opposition—but God is not intimidated and He’s not backing down! God will never give up the throne and no one has the power to remove Him.
There’s a passage of scripture found in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”
The King James Version says, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”
That word “looking” in the Greek is the word “aphorao.” This word is so unique, it’s only used one time in the entire Bible, and it means: to behold, gaze, examine, and consider attentively. "Aphorao" also has a second meaning: to refuse to turn away or depart from.
The Hebrews 12:2 word “looking” literally means to become single-minded and to compel yourself to look or gaze upon just one thing, or one person…JESUS!
With all the 2020 chaos, turmoil, and disorder, it has been nearly impossible to have a clear shot of the finish line. There has been so much interference and distraction over the past 10 months or so, our vision of Jesus has been obscured at best.
How about we start this new year with a determination to shift our focus back to where it belongs…on the Lord. As a part of your new year’s resolution, and strategy, let’s proactively turn our attention away from the chaos, and in the process energetically fix our mind, focus our attention, and become fanatics of the Lord Jesus Christ! I think this is a great 2021 plan!