Recently our pastor offered a New Year’s blessing for our church and homes. It was a prayer that included health, purity, strength of victory, humility, goodness, and mercy, all demonstrated by the manifestation of God’s love and mercy. It did not include a prayer for more money, bigger houses, better cars, or similar things.
Here are some thoughts on how these blessings might affect us in this new year:
Health: we all want good health but we probably all won’t get it. So, the blessing can’t refer to our good or perfect health. Instead, we should realize that God will bless us regardless of our physical condition. Health is one of the primary issues in our culture. For many years Joice and I lived with people who had little recourse for even basic health needs. We did some medical work among them, giving penicillin shots, bandaging wounds, and dispensing medicine. We take health needs (doctors, nurses, hospitals, etc.) for granted, but many in the world do not.
Purity: We are living in an age of impurity (adultery, divorce, diverse sexual appetites, and so on.) God can bless us with the mind of Christ and a vision for holiness if we ask Him. Every culture seems to have words for “good” and “bad,” recognizing the difference between such actions. A serious problem occurs in a culture when what is called bad in the Bible becomes an acceptable way of life.
Strength of victory: Winning over sin is part of our task in the Christian life. When it happens, we become stronger Christians. The battle goes on! I don’t believe in “sinless perfection,” although some might say that is why I don’t have it. But believing in something has no value unless we act on that belief. I believe that, although I am a sinner, God hears my confession and forgives me, and I can therefore live with Christ helping me each day.
Humility: When God blesses our family and our work, we need to be humble about it. The greatest sin, according to CS Lewis and mentioned often in the Bible, is pride. I have lived in an academic world and have had to put together my “curriculum vitae,” which can be a prideful and arrogant effort. God wants us to be humble in our spirit and actions for He alone gives us credit.
Goodness: Not a term we hear often, but it is the quality of being morally good or virtuous, which we need desperately in our society and country. It sounds so “spiritual” to want to be “holy” and “good,” especially in a society that considers most things to be neutral in value unless they build up the individual, the company, and the political party.
Mercy: I love the prayer we often have at church: “Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.” We need and want God’s mercy in this year. I pray with all diligence, and I often say another prayer we learned when Joice was being treated for cancer: “Lord we know you can, and we pray you will.”
I want to reflect on these blessings and pray for them as a part of 2023: Here is a reminder from Romans 9.12-17:
For he says to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”[a]
It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
God wants to bless us in 2023. Let’s pray that he will show his power and that his name will be exalted.
It is not wrong to pray for more money and things that we “need,” if these contribute to further God’s kingdom, which includes our families, our homes, and our futures. God gives us happiness in many ways, but it surely is meant to include our families, friends, and our fellowship with believers. That is also my prayer for 2023.