This is a pivotal time. It is a transition time. A lot has happened in 2015. I am sure as you place a mental calendar in front of your mind’s eye you could tell me all kinds of things that happened in your life each month. Some good and some bad. Now we are in 2016. A new year.
This past year has been a journey for us all. For some the road has brought joy, for others pain. We look and see a broken world. As we gaze at all the craziness around us our hearts can feel uncertain. Fear of the unknown can set in. We can look at 2016 and feel anything but secure. We wonder if HOPE is losing. We have been talking about HOPE since the end of September. My heart was to get it in our spirit to the point no matter what we go through or what the future holds, we can face it with the Hope we have in God and His promises. As this new year begins, what do we do? We are to:
TURN OUR EYES UPON JESUS!
LOOK FULL IN HIS WONDERFUL FACE
AND THE THINGS OF EARTH WILL GROW STRANGELY DIM
IN THE LIGHT OF HIS GLORY AND GRACE
The author of “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” Lilias Trotter, wrote: It is easy to find out whether our lives are focused, and if so, where the focus lies. Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? Where do they swing back when the pressure is off during the day? Dare to have it out with God, and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His Glory. Turn your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him. – Lilias Trotter
We are embarking on a new year. Now is the time for New Beginnings. Now is the time to release all the bad that has happened in 2015 and let it go. Forgive who you need to forgive. Let go of events or circumstances that brought despair or destruction. Leave it in 2015. Leave it at Christ’s feet. Walk into 2016 strengthened by these things instead of allowing them to overtake you. This new year is a year of breakthrough and change. We are moving forward, holding God’s hand, and our heads up knowing we are not alone.
We serve a God of endings and beginnings. We cannot have a new beginning without something coming to an end. In this case, it’s 2015. Turning our eyes upon Jesus and looking into His wonderful face will protect our hearts from any despair or downheartedness. We need this! You and I need to protect our hearts from falling into any trap the enemy, satan, wants to use to bring disillusion and confusion.
Turning our eyes upon Jesus is a command in Scripture.
Hebrews 12:2a NKJV
looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith
Hebrews 12:2a Amplified Bible
[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity],
The Bible tells us to look and to fix our eyes on Jesus. Make this be your New Year’s resolution for 2016. No matter what, you keep your eyes on Jesus. No matter how many bills you have to pay; Keep your eyes on Jesus! No matter all the things that can go wrong; Keep your eyes on Jesus! No matter what tries to distract you; Keep your eyes on Jesus. No matter how many disappointments you may encounter; Keep your eyes on Jesus. Know that a disappointment can sometimes be a divine appointment in disguise!
Our prayer should be:
Lord, I keep my eyes on You! I know you are good to me. I know You are watching over me. You are working all things for my good this past year and the year to come. I let go of my desires, or what I think should happen, and focus on You and Your desires. I want what You want. I will do what You want me to do. I just know I need you desperately, always in my life. I soak in Your love. I soak in Your goodness. 2016 is going to be an amazing year because You have brought it to me! Thank you for Your peace and assurance that I am standing on solid ground when I keep my eyes on You!
As we turn our eyes upon Jesus and stay focused, it keeps us on the right path. Being on the right path and walking forward in all that God brings us to do, we will receive a gratifying reward.
There is the principle of delayed gratification. We can see this principle at work in our own lives. There are times when we must give up the good to obtain the best.
•If one of our resolutions is to lose weight, we give up certain foods so that we might lose weight.
•Students give up a night out with friends to study for final exams.
•A young man gives up dinner and a movie because he is saving to buy a new car.
There is sacrifice involved. One pleasure is sacrificed so that a higher one might be achieved. It is amazing what we can sacrifice or give up if we really want something or really want to do something. There is a higher level of delayed gratification that involves enduring pain to receive a reward.
This is why athletes lift weights at 6:00 a.m., while their friends are still in bed. They give up sleep, in order to win a championship.
This is why aspiring pianists practice for hours when they might be watching TV or playing video games. They put in the hours in the hope that some day they may play for thousands.
In all these things there is a pain involved, but it is pain endured for the sake of the joy that comes when the goal is reached.
What has your year been like? God spoke to me that this past year we have endured. We have given up much. We have sacrificed much. We have been faithful at Hope Fellowship. The Lord impressed on my heart that 2016 will be the year of reward…. the gratification of the sacrifices we have made.
I want to share personally in my life some sacrifices to allow you to see possibly in your life something similar and to know that this delayed gratification of not seeing the results we want right away will be worth it all when God brings His rewards with Him!
Personally: My family and I are here every Sunday and Friday nights serving you. All the surgeries, and all the health issues I endured in 2015. All the tears shed in 2015 for the lost, broken, and for Hope Fellowship. All the hours spent counseling, encouraging others, and training my staff. All the time spent in prayer for Hope Fellowship and those who attend. All the sermons prepared, and worship sets planned and played. All the studying and preparing. All the graphic design and computer work… God is bringing a reward, gratification, and transition into the new He has waiting in my life!
Now turn that onto you. What have you sacrificed this past year? What have you gone through and still kept your faith. What did you obey day in and day out that God required? Obedience brings blessing! God is telling you today that YOU WILL have much reward for your efforts. He sees all and is a rewarder to those who diligently seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6 Amplified Bible
But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.
Please don’t give up in doing good. We will receive a reward. People go to work to receive a reward in the form of a paycheck. There are so many examples of preparing and doing things, that in time, will produce something of value.
Galatians 6:9 NKJV
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
That is why keeping our eyes on Jesus throughout the year keeps our focus where it should be. This helps us to keep on keeping on in spite of our circumstances. It reminds us that God is fighting for us and our situation is not going unnoticed. God sees our situation and He is MIGHTY to save! He is in the “saving business!” It is His speciality.
It is amazing the benefits we receive when we turn our eyes upon Jesus and keep our gaze there. Distractions grow strangely dim, they can’t help it. Nothing compares to the light, the powerful love God pours into us when our focus turns to Him.
So, keep your eyes on Jesus. Don’t be distracted by the things of the world.
Keep running. Don’t look back. Fix your eyes on Jesus and run with all your might for the finish line. Rejoice in Who you are looking at.
T. E. Marsh wrote on the fullness that is in Christ Jesus.
This a paraphrase of what he wrote:
•In Christ there is full acceptance, therefore do not doubt Him.
•In Christ there is peace, therefore trust Him.
•In Christ there is life, therefore abide in Him.
•In Christ there is blessing, therefore delight in Him.
•In Christ there is light, therefore follow Him.
•In Christ there is power, therefore wait on Him.
•In Christ there is all truth, therefore learn from Him.
•In Christ there is grace, therefore receive from Him.
•In Christ there is joy, therefore rejoice in Him.
•In Christ there is unlimited wealth, therefore depend on Him.
•In Christ there is strength, therefore lean on Him.
This is Who you are looking at! All these attributes and so much more. This is real hope for the new year. Everything we need, we have in Christ.
He has all the hope, all the love, all the acceptance, all the grace, all the power, all the strength, all the wisdom, all the patience, all the guidance, all the encouragement, all the joy, all the endurance, all the gentleness, all the forgiveness, all the determination, all the strength, and all the blessing that we need.
The Lord Jesus has already run the race for you. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, and we will run well. Keep your eye on the prize, Jesus, in 2016 and beyond.
Today, if you haven’t placed your gaze upon Jesus, now is the time. Set yourself up to look in the right direction. There is no better place to stare at then in the light of His glory and grace!
Pastor Kris Belfils