Goodbye 2022... Hello 2023
Another year is almost gone and we are on the brink of another! Today is the last Sunday of the year. Next Sunday we will usher in a New Year. This is the time of the year that we take stock of our lives, on what we have accomplished or did not accomplish. What were the sweet memories, the regrets, the lessons learned, the highs and lows? What kind of a year has 2022 been for you? Where would you place it on a scale of 1 – 10?
Our theme for 2022 was “Reviving the Stones.” Are you revived? As a whole, do you think you have matured spiritually? Have you increased in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ? (2 Peter 3:18). Can you count the labour that you have put into the service of God?
Last Sunday, I preached on the “Year End Spiritual Life Inventory.” I based my sermon on the series of lessons we have learned from 2 Peter 1:5-8. In his second epistle, the apostle Peter exhorts Christians to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). What does it mean to grow in grace? He identifies grace with the Christian way of life which are these:
4. Temperance or Self-control
5. Patience or Perseverance
7. Brotherly Kindness
The question we should be asking is: Have I grown in faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love?
1. Faith – Is my faith stronger? (Hebrews 11:6). Have I grown closer to God? (James 4:8).
2. Virtue – Am I morally upright? Is my life one that is aligned with the teachings of Christ? (1 John 1:7). Do my brethren and friends consider me a good Christian?
3. Knowledge – Have I improved in my knowledge of the Bible? Have I spent time with the Word of God? (Psalm 1:2; 119:97).
4. Self-control – Am I still an angry person? Am I selfish? Am I still a proud person? Self-control means controlling our emotions, passions, and attitude (James 1:19; Philippians 2:3, 4; 2 Timothy 3:22).
5. Patience – Patience is steadfastness, constancy, and endurance (Thayer’s Greek Definitions). It is to be steadfast in the faith, a faith that does not waver amid afflictions and persecutions, and a faith that lasts till we are called to the Lord’s presence (Revelation 2:10; 2 Timothy 4:7, 8).
6. Godliness - Godliness is reverence, respect; piety towards God (Thayer’s Greek Definitions). It is possessing a reverential attitude towards God whether in worship or in our lives (Hebrews 12:28, 29).
7. Brotherly Kindness - Brotherly Kindness is the love of brethren. Do I love my brethren? Is there someone in the church I could not love? God commands us to love our brethren: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31). This leaves no room for any bitterness towards anyone.
8. Love – This is love for the whole human race. It means we have to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), the sinners (Mark 2:16), the poor and lowly class of society (James 2:1-4), and the weak brethren in the congregation (Romans15:1). When we are respecters for persons, we are not walking in love.
You know you are not revived when worship bores you, and when you are attracted to worldly things instead of spiritual things. When sales, the latest gadgets, vacations, and worldly attractions attract your attention, but not Bible study, worship, and attending Bible classes and gospel meetings, you know you seriously need a revival. You need to check your spiritual inventory!
Globally, 2022 has its good and bad. Economically, the war in Ukraine has caused worldwide inflation, shortages of certain foods, and disrupted the energy and food supply chain. So, companies folded and jobs are lost. But we must remain steadfast in our faith: “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?..…. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...... Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:31-37).
The good news is that in 2022, the world has conquered the Covid-19 pandemic. Everything is almost back to the pre-Covid days. We thank God for it. Our worship service has resumed to the pre-pandemic days. We can sing without masks. We modified the way we made the Communion bread and we can resume serving the Lord’s Supper. Most of all, though most of us have been taken ill by the Covid virus, none have been admitted to intensive care or perished by it. In this we thank God from the bottom of our hearts – God is GOOD!
As we look forward to the New Year, let us resolve to do more for the Lord. We look forward to a year when we will have more victories. We have come a long way to this day; we have overcome and we will overcome again: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38, 39).
A new year always brings a sense of hope. The year 2022 with all its tragedies, problems, disappointments, failures, and sadness, is now behind us, and a clean slate lies ahead. If your spiritual inventory is seriously lacking, you must resolve to start a new leaf in 2023: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14).
Let us look forward to a victorious 2023 – Victory in Jesus.