How to Find God in the New Year

By Dianne Neal Matthews:

Photo by nasirkhan

Of all the holidays we celebrate, New Year’s Day is probably the oldest. It is also a good time to stop and think about how we might find God.

Most historians believe the celebration of the New Year was first observed in ancient ­Bab­ylon four thousand years ago. The celebration lasted eleven days, with different traditions observed on each day. The ­Bab­ylo­nians considered the new year to begin in late March, at the vernal equinox, with the focus on looking ahead to new crops and new growth. Other ancient cultures used the fall equinox or winter solstice as the starting point.

Today New Year’s Day is a public holiday in many countries. January 1 became generally recognized as the beginning of the year in the 1500s, with the adoption of the Gregorian calendar. In the United States, the holiday is traditionally considered to be a time to take stock of one’s life and to make resolutions for the coming year.

Most people find it fun to anticipate new things for the year ahead, but King Solomon expressed a cynical view in Ecclesiastes 1:9-10. He compared the seasons and repetitive cycles in nature to people’s lives. Nothing happens that hasn’t happened before. No one can do anything that is really new.

“There is nothing new under the sun,” he wrote. “Can you say that anything is new? It has already been here long before us” (verse 9-10).

Solomon’s comments about the monotony of life underscored the message he wanted to convey in his book: true meaning can only be found in a personal relationship with God.

Although God is called the Ancient of Days, he delights in doing new things. When we place our faith in Christ, God makes us into a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We have a new nature and a new way of living. As we grow in our faith, God shows us new ways to use our gifts for him and reveals fresh insights from his Word. Someday He will give us a new home where we will live with Him forever.

New Year’s Day is a good time to think and plan for the year ahead. And if we live wisely, we will be able to find God in each day between now and December 31.

© Dianne Neal Matthews. This article was adapted from Dianne’s book, Drawing Closer to God: 365 Daily Meditations on Questions from Scripture (Baker Books, 2010). You can find out  more about the history of the New Year at Infoplease.com.

 

Enjoy this funny video of kids expressing the most common New Year resolutions they most likely hear from the adults around them!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zV3MUpN8vA0

 

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Finding God Through Change

By: Deborah Lovett

 

Photo by cohdra

One moment can change your life.  One shift in reality as you knew it, can put you in shock. One loss after another can make you question God.  How can we find God through change? And how can we live restored after something tragic happens?

The truth is everything changes every moment. The only One that never changes is God. We live in a constant swirl of change. Think about our ability to communicate globally within seconds—this has changed the way we even experience change. Language and body expressions change overnight. Market trends and fashion styles change by the season.  Religious beliefs and understandings of such beliefs change with each new generation and counting…

One of my girlfriends was talking about my life in general, and the uncanny things that change it day in and day, and said, “Deb if I didn’t know you personally, and see it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it.”  Maybe you can relate.

There comes a time, though, when the pieces of puzzle seem to take shape and show a pattern.  That pattern in my life has been reoccurring loss, through which I have learned who God really is by seeing Him in action.  I began to see what was being taken from me, and what God was replacing it with. Finally, I started to pray harder, wiser, and with more power and began to see restoration with my own eyes.  You see, spiritual blessings come wrapped in trials. We CAN be a people of hope in the midst of change or even despair.  It doesn’t have to be one or the other. God really wants to bless us.

At speaking events I tell about experiencing God through persistent recognition of His work in my daily life. Any seemingly wonderful coincidence or chance is not luck, but His Hand at work.

Trace events in your own life, and begin to feel the courage to TRY and move on.  This overwhelming evidence you find supports the fact that God is the ‘I AM.’ The I AM with you. I AM for you. I AM your maker. I AM forever. I AM Love. I AM your Bright and Morning Star. I AM to be trusted. I AM answering your prayers. I AM healing you. I AM watching over you. And I AM restoring you in the midst of your change because I AM never changing!

Here is my prayer for us as we journey through our flames of change:

Dear Lord, Help us see the beauty you bring from our ashes, tragedies, betrayals, rejections, losses, abuse, and sufferings.  Please give us the gumption of hope it takes to look up, step out, move on, and be restored. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Today I am thankful that we can be finding God through change when we see it as a fleeting moment compared to His Son Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

© Deborah Lovett. (www.DeborahLovett.com) Deborah is an International Speaker for Women’s Events, Retreats, and Conferences and the author of Gushing Springs, a Bible Study on the “Woman at the Well.”

 

Instead of panicking when you experience change in life’s circumstances, consider asking God to change and fill your own heart (music by Hillsong).

 

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Finding God in the New Planet: Kepler-22b

By Dianne E. Butts

Photo from Wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler-22b

December 5, 2011, NASA announced the discovery of a planet they’re calling Kepler-22b, “the first planet the Kepler spacecraft has discovered in the habitable zone, an area with a distance from a star where temperatures will permit the existence of liquid water” according to an article posted on The Huffington Post that same day.

The discovery brings up some interesting notions about whether or not anyone could be finding God in the New Planet: Kepler-22b. Scientists believe they are now “closer to finding a planet that could possibly harbor life,” the article said.

The newly discovered planet, Kepler-22b, is 600 light-years away from Earth and orbits at a distance from its sun that scientists estimate would give it a pleasant 72 degrees Fahrenheit temperature.

Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist, is quoted in The Huffington Post article saying:

“Kepler’s results continue to demonstrate the importance of NASA’s science missions, which aim to answer some of the biggest questions about our place in the universe.”

I once knew an author of Christian fiction who wanted to write a story about people of earth traveling to other planets and discovering other races of human-like beings. But he was discouraged from writing such stories because there were too many questions:

Did the beings on those planets sin? Do they need a Savior from God like Earth did? Did Jesus go there, too, because of God’s love? Did He die as a sin offering for them, too, because it was God’s will to satisfy His justice requiring death for sin? Is there “salvation” on their world? There couldn’t have been another Savior for them if Jesus is God’s only Son, right? Would the sacrifice of Jesus on our planet Earth cover the sins of beings on other planets?

Too many hard questions put an end to this author’s space-travel stories, as far as I know.

Are there other worlds out there that sustain life similar to ours? Scientists continue to search for answers.

Steven Howell, as scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center who’s on the Kepler team, told the Huffington Post about viewing planets orbiting other stars and searching for planets similar to earth. He said, “We’re moving out to orbital periods that are nearly and equal to the Earth, and that means very soon we’re going to be finding [planets] very near the earth, what we’d call true earth analogs. We’ll be there. We’ll be there probably within a year, very easily.”

This one thing I know, sin will take this earth to such a state that it will be destroyed, or nearly so. But that is not the end, for John, in his Revelation of the end tells us:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:1-3, NIV).

We know God is here among us and working among us on Earth. But pondering hard questions might be leading some to be finding God in the New Planet: Kepler-22b.

© Dianne E. Butts (www.DianneEButts.com) has over 275 articles and short fiction in more than fifty publications including Enrichment Journal, and Encounter, and Clubhouse and eighteen books, and is a frequent contributor to Finding God Daily.

 

Others are finding a bit of humor in comparing conditions on earth to a new hope, as you can see in this YouTube video: Earth vs Kepler 22b Funny Comparison. Thankfully, we who anticipate heaven already have something greater in store for us!

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