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A New Year's Scripture and Prayer

As I took time in quiet to start this first day of another new year, I found myself wondering how many may be reading this 1st Psalm with me (because of the Bible reading plan you may have chosen): Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV) - Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, or sits in the seat of mockers, but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planed by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and his leaf does not wither. In all he does, he prospers.

What a great template this would be for a "prosperous" new year, which I gather many of us would hope and wish for! As this psalm teaches, first things first. God's word - deeply meditated upon - is the starting place. We are like trees that must be planted, in well-watered soil by life giving waters. Then, and only then, comes the fruit. Too many times we are like trees planted in pots, like those we find at a greenhouse. They are small, look full of promise, but remaining in those pots, they will not grow and bear fruit. In fact, they may wither and die. They need replanting in good soil that is well irrigated and conducive to bearing the fruit they are capable of bearing.

My hope and prayer for each of you, wherever you may find yourself, is that you will prioritize you nurturing this year. Go to the place where you will be well watered - often, yes certainly daily at least - and then trust God to bear fruit in and through you.

Here is a prayer I offered to my pastor colleagues in our denomination. I also offer it for you, and do pray that God will give you a safe, healthy, and prosperous new year - prosperous in all the things that matter in God's economy and heavenly Kingdom. "Our Father in heaven, we confess that 2021 did not turn out as many of us had hoped. Be it the ongoing challenges of COVID, incivility in our cultural and political discourse, the increasing drift toward a post-modern, post-Christian culture, or the natural disasters that caused (and for the fires in Colorado, continue to cause) cause destruction of life and property, there were certainly times to grieve and mourn. Yet, O Lord, You are faithful. You have promised to be with us through the fires and floods of life to comfort and strengthen us. And many are the blessings You have provided along the way, ones which we so often take for granted (forgive us, Jesus).

As we look back, may we be thankful for Your unfailing love, Your mercies which are new every morning, and Your abiding faithfulness (even when we at times are faithless). As we look ahead, may we love as You have loved, serve as You have served, and give as You have given. Whatever good, challenge and uncertainty the new year may bring, may we be Your ambassadors and bearers of eternal hope and good news of salvation in Jesus to all the world, beginning right where we are at this moment and to wherever You would lead us."

May we be like well-planted and watered trees, bearing fruit for the Gospel and the Kingdom, all for Jesus' glory. Amen.


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