A new year always signifies a new beginning as we turn the page on the “old” and we get ready to embrace a new chapter. It reminds me so much of a blank canvas. It is void of colour, creativity, and meaning but yet it carries the potential to become filled with very meaningful things that we long to display on our canvas. As we add our own unique styles and blots of colour to our canvas it begins to take shape and becomes filled with beauty, life and significance. What is displayed on your canvas will look vastly different to the next person and that is perfectly ok! We all carry a value for different things and have different desires for the year that lies ahead.
Does it matter what I add to my canvas?
You may be asking yourself, does what I add to my canvas matter? I would like to encourage you, that it does matter as we are called to live lives that reflect Jesus to the world around us. Would it not be amazing that when people gaze upon our canvases, it not only gives them a glimpse into our lives but it also points them to Jesus? Here are a few keys that will get you started on ensuring that you start the new year with a blank canvas and embrace the “new” that God has for you.
Leaving the past behind
Life is filled with ups and downs, no matter where we find ourselves. It has knocked some of us around worst than others and those knocks have left scars, no matter how small. Nobody is exempt from pain, heartache and loss. I wish that there was some miraculous formula to bypass these things but that is not a reality. Looking back on the past year, I am sure that you agree with me that it has been a rather tumultuous one. Covid19 hit and affected many lives worldwide – as I wrote about in a previous blog – Finding Jesus in the midst of the storm. There are the lockdowns (which are still in effect in some places to varying degrees), Covid19 Vaccines (should I vaccinate or not) and the US elections, and these are only a few world events that greatly impacted the lives of people. Let’s not forget about our own personal journeys with the ups and downs of everyday life.
Many of us have entered 2021 carrying heavy backpacks filled with baggage that we have brought with us from the previous seasons. This results in us feeling heavy and weighed down and it prevents us from moving into the new that God has for us. Old baggage can be likened to a weighted chain that is attached to our backs that we drag along with us wherever we go and it weighs us down. The biggest problem with carrying old baggage around is that we can never enter the new that God has for us without leaving the old behind.
I want to encourage you to take the baggage/burdens that you are carrying and place them all at the feet of Jesus. I love this song by Phil Wickham – Battle Belongs, as it reminds me that the battle belongs to Jesus! We were not meant to carry these heavy loads. After all, that is the reason why Jesus went to the cross for us, so that each of us can step into a full and abundant life. Laying our baggage down is a process but I want to encourage you to keep giving it to Jesus. He desires to lead us into greater levels of freedom. Let’s embrace the new and abundant life by laying the past down so that the canvas of our lives can reflect a new beginning!
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
~ 1 Peter 5:7 ~
Forgiveness is a necessity
According to the Merriam- Webster Dictionary the meaning of forgive is as follows:
- to cease to feel resentment against (an offender): PARDON // forgive one’s enemies
- to give up resentment of or claim requital // forgive an insult
- to grant relief from payment of // forgive a debt
As we walk along life’s journey we will encounter people who will cause us great levels of pain, hurt, rejection, offence and anger. Some reading this may have experienced relationship breakdowns through break-ups or divorce and things have been messy with past partners. Others may have experienced abuse of some sort (sexual, emotional, verbal) and still, others may have just been bullied or had friendships crumble. Many scenarios can play out, and way too many to be noted here, but these hurtful past experiences can lead to unforgiveness, resentfulness and bitterness. These experiences are never easy and I want to say that I am so sorry for the pain that each of you has had to endure as it can be emotionally harrowing.
We need to know that true forgiveness transpired at the Cross. When an innocent man, named Jesus took our sins upon himself. The sin that Jesus took upon himself was our debt to pay but a good Father could not endure seeing His children suffer for their wrongdoings. Therefore He sent His one and only son Jesus, who was innocent and knew no sin, to be the ultimate sacrifice for us. True forgiveness can only be found in Jesus.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
~ Romans 5:8 ~
Forgiveness is not something that always comes easy depending on the severity of the offence that we have experienced but in the Christian walk, we have to choose forgiveness! Sometimes that looks like forgiving one person several times until the emotions and pain connected to that person begin to dissipate. Not only is forgiveness a choice but it is also a process as we don’t ignore or forget the offences that were done to us but we choose to hold no debt against the person who hurt us. Forgiveness is a necessity if we want to walk free from bondage and encounter true freedom.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
~ Ephesians 4:31 – 32 ~
Connection to the true source
I would love to pose a scenario to you, that unless a plug of any given appliance is plugged into the socket that appliance will not work. There has to be an electrical connection in order for the appliance to function. No flow of current = no connection! This is very much the same with our lives unless we are connected to the true source who is Jesus, true power cannot flow forth from our lives.
As Christians, we are called to be powerhouses of the Holy Spirit. This means that we are called to be ambassadors of Jesus, bringing heaven to earth and doing the works that Jesus did. We are called to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper and cast out demonic powers.
There are many counterfeit sources of power as well and we have to be careful that we are not engaging with the wrong source of power (witchcraft, new age, false religions, necromancy .etc) At various stages over my lifetime and in more recent days, as I have ministered to people of different religions, I have been told that we all serve the same God. The only difference is that they call their God by a different name.
I would like to advise you today that this is simply NOT true. We as Christians do not serve the same God as other religions. Here are a few truths that make Christianity different:
- We believe in the trinity – Three Gods in one being Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28: 18 – 19, Matthew 3: 16 – 17)
- We believe that Jesus is God (Mark 14: 61- 62, Hebrews 1:3)
- We believe that Jesus died on the cross (Philippians 2:8, Luke 23:46)
- We believe that Jesus rose from the dead and that He is a living God (Acts 10: 40 -41, Romans 8:34)
- We believe that Jesus forgives us of our sins (Mark 5: 20 – 26, Acts 10:43)
- Jesus calls us into a relationship with Himself (John 3: 3 – 7, Romans 10:9)
If you are keen to discover more about this topic, other great resources are, the documentary The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel and you can watch this teaching by Nabeel Quareshi. We really need to remain plugged into the true source, Jesus, as we only want the canvas of our lives to display what is real and true. At no point do we want to be misleading people.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
~ John 8:32 ~
In closing, I pray that you will evaluate your own life by asking the Holy Spirit to show you what needs to be added or removed from your canvas so that you can walk in the “new” and access the full and abundant life that Jesus won for you! After all, you were created to shine brightly.
I trust that this blog has been a source of hope and encouragement to you! Sending blessings your way and I pray that the Lord will be your source of hope, comfort and strength. Stay safe and remember that greater things are yet to come!
If after reading this blog, you would really like to encounter this living God whose name is Jesus, then you can pray the following prayer:
Lord Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner and I am in need of your forgiveness. I have lived my life according to my own will but today I come to ask for your forgiveness and surrender my life into your hands. Jesus, I believe that you died on the cross for my sins and that you rose from the dead and that through you I now have eternal life. I ask you, Jesus, to come and live inside of me and be Lord of my life. I believe by faith that I am now a child of God. Amen.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” ~ Romans 10:9 ~
If there is someone that you would like to forgive from the heart, that you have unforgiveness towards you can pray the following prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, I have a confession to make, I have unforgiveness in my heart. I come today to choose to forgive (person’s name), I come to release (person’s name) to you and I come to pray blessings over (person’s name). Lord, there are many hurtful and painful memories but please help me to forgive them and will you also please forgive them? Dear Lord, I give you all the pain and hurt that I am feeling and please will you heal my heart in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.