As we embark on the new year, many people are turning the corner in their mind quickly, darting past the reflections and avoiding any reminiscence of 2020. The uncertainty that befell all people, believers and nonbelievers, during the tumultuous conditions, proved to seem never ending. We as believers can choose to purposefully reflect, as the Holy Spirit nudges, to dig deeper and understand the signs of the times.
Spiritual house cleaning, focusing on neglected spiritual disciplines, and staring in the face of what eternity means for a lost neighbor or family member, seems to strike harder during difficult times. No matter what 2021 holds, we know it holds much hope.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we celebrate in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5
We can take strength, comfort and encouragement in the power we hold as children of God: power to be more courageous, power to stand up under difficulties, power to move and step out on the water, power to be bold with His truth, power to overcome.
It is in times just as these that Mary said “yes” to the angel Gabriel, when the world would shame her. It was times like these that Paul and Silas praised Him more when they were in chains in prison. And it was in times even more difficult that Jesus prayed so intensely in the Garden that he sweat blood. When all seemed confusing, fearful, strange and hard, is when God had done His most powerful work. Freedom and deliverance came to Mary, Peter and Silas and Jesus, and eternity changed for us all by each of their choices. In all of them, hope was alive. We, as God’s children, are recipients of that same freedom, for deliverance is the children’s bread. Matthew 15:26-28.
In our Palm Beach County community of believers we all have goals, hopes, dreams in Christ as we move into a new time in our world. A time that we’ve never seen before. And, as a community of believers, regardless of church affiliation, we all have Christ in common. It is in Him, whom we hope. Here is a look at some people in our community and where hope is guiding them for 2021:
Pastor Dan West, Lake Worth
Pastor Dan West of Restoration Bridge International in Lake Worth is choosing to give more for 2021, as well as continuing to protect his two hour morning praise and prayer time. These two practices have led to many astounding breakthroughs in his life and food bank ministry.
Patti Rayside, Lake Worth
Patti Rayside, recently retired, was a waitress for 22 years at Southern Kitchen in Lake Park and has been a dedicated and effective prayer intercessor in the community. In 2020 she retired to Orlando to be with her children. She is holding on to Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
Mark Sheats, Boynton Beach
Mark Sheats is a member of a home fellowship group in Boynton Beach that meets on Tuesdays nights at 6 (starting with a home cooked meal Jesushasmarkers@gmail.com). Mark says he is looking to the hope of keeping strong faith when not seeing a firm solution to circumstances.
Bettina Wendt, West Palm Beach
Bettina Wendt, a West Palm Beach resident and author of Poetry That Awakens the Heart, now in its second printing, attends Mishkan David, a Messianic Jewish congregation. Bettina is dedicating more time to following through on what God asks of her within her artistic ministry. And, she wants to be diligent in marketing her nutrition ministry so she can give more to others.
Trina Taylor, Lake Worth
Trina Taylor, a member of Trinity Church International in Lake Worth, who is a massage therapist and worship dancer shares her vision. Trina wants to continue to do all she does as “unto the Lord”. Excitement flows from her heart when expressing there is much hope for 2021. And her heart echoes with so many others, that people would turn to the true Light of Christ in this new year.
Tom and Charlene Sherry, Palm Beach Gardens
Tom and Charlene Sherry, of Palm Beach Gardens who attend Mary, Mother of the Light Maronite Catholic Church in Tequesta had this beautiful sentiment to share. “We look forward toward 2021 as we strive to know and love God more each day and pray for our loved ones and country men.”
It is historically true that in the difficult times, Christ’s light shines the brightest. When humanity needed it most, God sent His son. When we wear the carpet out on our knees in prayer, with the gift of desperation, God seems to alight our hearts with a deeper faith and miracles are not far behind. What is in your heart of hope this New Year?
Whether we need to go back to the basics and return to our First Love, or we’re on track with laser beam vision that God has spoken to us, we can live in joy with renewed hope. Jesus is always near. In 2021, we get to dream big. He has great plans for us! As we care for fellow believers in Christ and our lost neighbors, we can walk humbly with our God. In this humility, we can be confident as we continue to put our hope in Him. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 reminds us that …our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
May the peace of Christ and the joy of the Lord overtake you in this new year!
And remember Esther 4:14, For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”