New Year’s Day brings all sorts of emotions and excitement. This year is going to be the year we lose weight, read the Bible, save money, get out of debt, join the gym, or any other number of things. The reality is, however, often what we plan for the new year does not actually play out during the year. As we all learn from painful experience, life is full of uncertainty and unwanted reality. So, I hope and pray that 2024 is the best year of your life. Likewise, I hope and pray that 2024 is the greatest year in the history of Bethel Baptist Church. If these hopes and prayers do, indeed, turn out to be true then we will praise God from whom all blessings flow.

If, however, 2024 turns out to be full of stress and struggle my prayer will be that we will still praise God from whom all blessings flow. Our praise, in this case, should not be half-hearted or done with a bitter, cynical core. Our praise of God should come from a place in our soul that is impervious to situations and circumstances. Yes, we certainly have adverse effects from stress and struggle. Yes, we definitely hurt when we hurt. Yes, we feel sad when we’re sad. And yes, we feel lonely when we’re alone. But despite these feelings, followers of Christ should have a hope, peace, and confidence that remains unchanged in our ever-changing world.

How can this be? What is the source of this unchanging hope, peace, and confidence? A Christian’s hope, peace, and confidence is ultimately found in the presence of God. Moses is dead and gone. Joshua is taking over a fickle bunch in a precarious situation. With a river and giants in front of him and a generation of death behind him notice God’s reas-suring, comforting words to Joshua: Joshua 1:5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you.

God’s promise of victory, No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live, is grounded in His presence, I will be with you. Despite the outward situation and circumstance, the inward presence of God in our lives gives us stability and hope. Even though the mountains give way and fall into the sea we will not fear because the maker and sustainer of the universe is with us and for us. God reminded Joshua that He had already established a pattern of His presence, just as I was with Moses. Joshua was not the first generation to witness the faithful presence of God. Neither are we without powerful examples of God’s faithful presence with His people in the past. The promise from God is grounded in the presence of God, which includes a permanence with God, I will not leave you or forsake you. No matter what 2024 brings, God will still be there with us working all things in our lives out according to His plan for His glory and for our greatest good. Let God’s presence be the anchor of your life today and tomorrow.
-Pastor Clint Miller