In a conversation with a friend on Sunday I was reminded of my own desire to sing a new song and not let last year’s stuff cloud my new focus. I asked my friend to tell me, if she heard me revert back to the last year bad, toxic stuff, to say “Tiffany, new song!” She laughed when I told her, but I am hoping that she’ll do it to help me in my new focus for the new year.
On Sunday, January 3rd, we sang this really old song by J. Hart “How Good is the God we adore!” And I wanted to note the song for you because it was so perfect for the new year. And it was perfect for what I’m focusing on this year–my new year, new song, new focus, new experiences, new perspectives. Here are the words to the song:
How Good is the God we adore! Our faithful, unchangeable friend; His love is as great as His power; And knows neither measure nor end.
For Christ is the first and the last; His Spirit will guide us safe home; We will praise Him for all that is past; And trust Him for all that’s to come.
What I noted down afterwards in my notebook was this: “learn from the past year” and “move forward pursuing Jesus more deeply.” How was I going to do that with my “new” theme?
Before we sang this song, I was meditating on Philippians 2:12-16a and Ephesians 3:16-19 and already decided that my focus would include shining brightly for Christ. While dwelling on these verses, the song’s meaning came clear to me; with all we know of Christ, in our praise of Him for the past and our trusting Him in the what’s to come, we are to shine brightly for Him.
In Philippians 2:12-16a, Paul exhorts the believers in Philippi to shine brightly for Christ. These are the verses that began to speak to me on that Sunday. Paul, who was not with the followers in Philippi at that time, says “be even more careful to put into action God’s saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him. In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shines brightly before them. Hold tightly to the word of life…” (NLT Philippians 2:12b-16a) Well, starting the new year I knew I needed to clean out the toxic things, thoughts, etc out of my life and to begin to focus on things that would allow me to live a clean life. That’s why it suddenly became clear to me to ask my friend to stop me if I went back to the old complaining etc…I need to be reminded to separate myself from the that toxic stuff I had held on to last year. This is an awesome verse to start the new year with too! I needed a new song, new focus, new perspective if I am to shine brightly for Him!
In Ephesians 3:16-19, I found Paul’s prayer for spiritual empowering. Pursuing Jesus more deeply requires this kind of prayer. Here’s what Paul prays: “I pray that from his (Christ’s) glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (NLT) I just love that in addition to praying for inner strength, Paul prays that Christ will become “more and more at home” in our hearts as we trust him. This is something I’ve desired for a while and I will definitely be working on-I so want Christ to be at home in me. Clearing out the toxic things from my life is so necessary because if they remained, he can’t be there.
Speaking of shining brightly, in Daniel 12:3, it says “Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who turn many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.” If I am to shine brightly for Christ, I need to seek wisdom, pray for inner strength through the Holy Spirit, and to pursue Christ so that he will become more and more at home in my heart.
I also need to live a life worthy of my calling (Ephesians 4:1b-3) by living in unity in the body of Christ. I am to be humble, gentle, patient, make allowances for each other’s fault and to bind ourselves with peace.
…New Year, New Song, New Focus, New Perspectives…
Some heavy things to work on this year…I’m up for the challenge. What about you? Do you have a new song this year? Send me your comments!