Here we are at the start of a new decade. It is filled with the possibility of new opportunities, new dreams, fulfilling new potential, new friends, and a whole lot more. I don’t know about you, but I am personally glad to have 2019 behind me and to welcome in this new decade.
In this new year, many of us are looking for more happiness. According to Jesus, happiness does not come from the things that society says it does. Our culture suggests that status, beauty, wealth, and possessions are keys to happiness. You might be glad to see 2019 go because it didn’t bring you the happiness you desired. Unfortunately, 2020 might be just as difficult if you are looking for different results from the same things. Happiness does not come from what you have or what you do.
The Greek word “makarios”, from Matthew 5:3-11, means to be blessed, fortunate, or happy; the privileged recipient of God’s favor. In this passage, Jesus tells us that true happiness, or makarios, comes to those who are poor in spirit. Of course, He is not talking about physical poverty, but rather spiritual poverty. Jesus is saying that those who are blessed, happy, or fortunate are those who acknowledge that without God, they are spiritually impoverished.
Looking back over the past year, I can tell you that it didn’t contain what I anticipated. If I am honest, it was full of “why” questions. But as each challenge arose, I gave it to God, and saw many unexpected miracles as a result. Trusting God this way felt like I was building a spiritual bank account that overflowed with faith. In 2020, I am anticipating continued and consistent trust in God in every aspect of my life.
One of my favorite scriptures is John 15:4-5. In this passage, Jesus tells us two essential truths about our spiritual devotion. In verse four, Jesus says, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you”. In a transactional world where we often exchange things without any relationship, Jesus is saying that relationship comes before transaction with Him. As we invest relationally in our walk with Jesus, a transaction does occur as Christ pours Himself into your life. Most of the time, the return is different than we expect, but our trust in our relationship gives us a sense of peace in the process. In verse five, John elaborates on the results of relationship with Jesus. “If you remain in me, and I in you, you WILL bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.” The only way a person can be productive, spiritually fulfilled, and find true happiness, is by staying in right relationship with God.
I don’t know what your goals are for the new year or what you are hoping to accomplish, but my prayer for you is that you might flourish in your relationship with Christ, that you would draw close to God and He to you, and that along the way, you would be more aware of how God is guiding you and blessing you.
Lord, I pray for a revived spirit in my life and in the lives of my friends, as together we embrace this new year and decade. Help us to fully understand that without an invested relationship with God, we are spiritually impoverished. The only way for us to enjoy life the way you intended is for us to remain in a relationship with you. Thank you for initiating that relationship with us, and for helping us to respond. Amen.