We’re nearly there. Only a few more days until the end of 2021, and we enter the new year of 2022.
Looking back at this year, 2021 definitely came with unexpected turns, especially with COVID and lockdown. Just like every year, lots of things happened, both good and bad. When reflecting on this year, we should give thanks to God for His blessings and guidance.
Personally, looking back at this year, the first thing that comes to mind is how precious time is. Even if it may not seem like it at the moment, time flies quickly. Things change. We grow older. Especially with this year and lockdown, things don’t always go the way we expect. Life is unpredictable. But despite the uncertainty of the future, let us find comfort in our God, who never changes and is in control. Despite the sufferings we may encounter in our lives, Jesus Christ is the Shepherd that leads us through dark times.
If we look back at 2021, how have we used our God-given time? How did we spend almost four months stuck at home during lockdown?
I’m sure many of us can relate to having procrastination as a problem in using our time, especially during lockdown, and with everything being online. It’s easy to be distracted by more enjoyable activities such as social media, texting, and games instead of doing our responsibilities such as schoolwork, chores and devotions. If we ask ourselves honestly, “Would you rather spend time on social media or Youtube or read and meditate on God’s Word?”, what would we answer?
As humans, we are born with a sinful nature — it’s been that way ever since Adam and Eve first sinned in the garden of Eden. It’s painfully obvious that we have a tendency to prefer worldly enjoyments instead of God’s truth that He gives us. However, this is not the end of the story.
In Psalm 119: 33- 36, the psalmist prays to God, “Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees,
that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart…Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.”. Without God’s help, we cannot have a willingness, let alone understand His Word, to help us grow in our faith and apply His Word to our hearts. When we truly understand the value of the Bible, we will find joy in God’s Word.
After a while, our everyday routine of going to school and church every week will become repetitive, and we fall into spiritual sleepiness. This reminds me of my devotion the other day about being spiritually asleep.
Christ is our Saviour, which means there is something, a “danger” we need saving from — sin. However, do we feel that there is a danger that we need saving from? Or are we spiritually asleep and unaware about the danger of sin?
As soldiers of Christ, we need to be watchful and awake. Christ has defeated sin on the cross, and as Christians, it is our duty not only to distance ourselves from sin but to ‘kill’ it. But as humans, isn’t that impossible?
That’s why we gain strength to kill the deeds of the body from the Holy Spirit — not from our family, friends or even selves. He is the only source of strength that we can depend on in this journey of sanctification. As soldiers of Christ we need to use the whole armour of God, that we can stand firm (Ephesians 6:13). Satan is always awake and ready to tempt us. During our lives on earth, we need to stir ourselves up and be ready so that we do not fall under the Enemy’s temptation.
Growing in God
Salvation isn’t just about going to heaven instead of hell. Rather, it’s about a growing relationship with God. If we are in Christ, God’s work in us is ongoing. So during this year, how has our relationship with God changed or grown?
A growing faith only comes from a union with Christ. But first of all, what is faith?
Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith must always have an ‘object’ and that ‘object’ must be true. The Bible tells us that the one and true object of faith is Jesus Christ.
A sign of a person with growing faith is a spirit of prayer, with a willingness to obey God. Even though as humans, we still sin in our time in the world, true faith drives a person to obey God. As we grow in our faith in God, we should not just read the Word of God as part of a routine. Rather we should learn and meditate on His Word and ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit. It is through learning we can produce fruit.
Looking towards the future
But in the end, what’s the point of it all? The pleasures of this world are temporary, and so is our life on this earth. So what is our purpose?
As is said in Westminster’s shorter catechism, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” How are we using the time God has given us?
Quoting from Dr. Stephen Tong, a Reformed pastor and evangelist, “When we return to the Lord, some will be judged with an empty worthless life. But others will present many fruits. Which one will be you?” May we ask God for His guidance in the upcoming year of 2022.