We changed our calendars today from 2015 to 2016.  With a simple page flip, so much potential awaits! Another year has come and gone and only what was done for Jesus will really matter.

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Everything else was just a waste of our precious time.  While it’s only a change in how we measure time, the new year is symbolic of things to come. It represents a clean slate. Resolutions are made. Hope is renewed. Plans are made. It’s really an exciting time.

I believe God wants to do something new and fresh in our lives too. It’s something I tenaciously hold on to.  I’m encouraged when I read:

“Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old, Behold I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert. The beast of the field will honor Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I give waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My people, My chosen. This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise. Isaiah 43:18-21 (NKJV)

Yes Lord! Do a new thing. Bring life where there is no life. Make a way in my seemingly never ending wilderness and bring nourishing water into the desert places of my life.  You too can hold on to these promises, while made to the nation of Israel, reflect the unchanging character of God today.

But what about those ‘former things of old’? They bring so much pain? How do we forget them? I believe the Lord gave me three things for the new year yet to be lived…

With your Hurt LOOK FORWARD: Much of the former things the Lord would have us to forget are the hurt and pain that intrudes upon us so constantly. Whether it’s the pain from people (even from those who claim to have a relationship with Jesus), or the long term pain of grief, or the ongoing pain of the fleshly struggle, the hurt of the past seems to tag along with us every day. If pain isn’t a part of your past, you can be sure pain is in your future.

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I know personally many of you go to sleep with your last thought being painful and the first thought when you wake up, your pain is still there. Listen, as Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “Within the Scripture there is a balm for every wound, a salve for every sore.”  Remember, God is the God of hope! Look forward not inward!

 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, Phil 3:12-13 (NKJV)

With your HELP LOOK AROUND. One of the greatest ways to walk through ongoing pain, is to seek to be used of God to encourage others.

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It’s ironic isn’t it? You’re hurting but at the same time so filled with God’s love that you are actively helping others in their pain? Your response to not return ‘evil for evil’ (1 Peter 3:9) is only because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit! It’s a display of the amazing other-worldly love of God.  It’s so counter intuitive. What we would expect is for a person in pain to shrink back, shrivel up in discouragement. God is so gracious that He uses our pain to help us by helping others.

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All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. So when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your benefit and salvation! For when God comforts us, it is so that we, in turn, can be an encouragement to you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in suffering, you will also share God’s comfort. 2 Cor 1:3-7 (NLT)

With your Hope LOOK UPWARD. Taking your cares and concerns to God daily will help to set aside the former things of old. While forgetting them like there is never a memory of them isn’t possible, it is very possible to set them aside in forgiveness so that they don’t control you in the flesh today.  There is hope and that hope takes your eyes off of your situation and puts them on the God who cares and acts and is ready to do something new. The pain you have most likely will stay with you this coming year, but that will not be an anchor but rather a mover and motivator to seek a deeper more intimate relationship with Jesus.  The Bible reminds us that Jesus was a man sorrows, acquainted with grief. He knows.  He hears. He is there.  Look forward for the faithfulness of God in your life!

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I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:14 (NKJV)

I’m praying for a 2016 that is better and greater. Whatever God needs to do to draw you and me into deeper intimacy is our desire!

God bless you friend.