My One Word for 2017

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to do this again. Last year, my word was Restoration and although in some areas the restoration process has started, I didn’t leave 2016 feeling completely restored.

Taking a brief look at last year’s post, activity-wise, I mentioned I wanted to do more outside the house and try to organise something different once a month. Well, nine out of twelve ain’t bad. Some particular highlights were the Stuart Townend concert in April, my meeting with Damon Hill in June, the first-ever ChristianityWorks conference in October (shared between ChristianityWorks and GNBA), and my Christmas present to Mum – a trip to York in December for the carol concert at Yorkminster.

When it came to community, I was finding it difficult at my church with the size of its congregation. I did celebrate their move to new premises, but left halfway through the year to try a smaller church. This is a better fit for me – much easier to figure out who’s who, and where they are. Meeting new people and opening up to them can be hard. I want to be known and respected, even though I haven’t been there long enough to earn their respect, but I’m grateful for their patience and the way they’ve welcomed me.

I also touched on exercise, but I’m not back into a good exercise routine yet. I did join a gym, but the pain I sometimes experience meant I was having to finish early, which didn’t work well with taxies etc. I’m still working on this.

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So that’s why I was unsure about a word for 2017, but I prayed God would show me if He wanted me to have one. At church on Sunday, I got my word. And it is?

Shelter

During the worship, my friend felt God was saying we were a shelter for many. 2017 would be a year of shifting sand for people, but our dependence on God and His Word could be an anchor for them.

Can you picture it – people coming to us because they see Jesus living in us? “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn” (Isaiah 60:3). This was a challenge, and made me see the importance of staying strong in God. Who wants to come to a crumbling shelter? I’m thankful that in Christ all things hold together, but I need to take responsibility too. As Paul says to the church at Colosse: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Colossians 2:6).

I’m a shelter for God (a place where He lives through His Spirit), I’m a shelter for others, and God is a shelter for me. “He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:15-17).

Giving Is … How we Respond

I’d like you to think about the story, the true story, of ten men who had leprosy.  In Jesus’ time, this was a very serious disease; there was no treatment for it.  People with leprosy were declared ‘Unclean’ and sort of quarantined – put in an area away from everyone else.  Just before Jesus entered a village, He came to the place on its outskirts where the lepers were, and He told them to show themselves to the priests.  People with any form of skin disease would do this, and the priest would decide whether their condition had improved, but this time was different.  On their way to see the priests, all ten men were completely healed, but only one of them came back to Jesus.  The Bible tells us he shouted praises to God, bowed down at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him (Luke 17:15-16).  And Jesus asked:  “Why was this foreigner the only one who came back to thank God?”

 

Do you see?  Our response to what we’ve received can be a gift.  When you think of Jesus leaving all the glory of heaven to come into this world, knowing His purpose was to die on a cross to take our punishment for the things we’d done wrong, how do you react?  He didn’t hold onto selfishness; He didn’t hold onto what He could have been; He put all of that down – for us; He gave His everything for us.  In response, will we give Him full control of our lives – of all that we are?

 

And let’s come back to finances again:  I don’t know where you live this Christmas season, but maybe you’re like me.  Maybe you have a roof over your head; clean water at your fingertips; enough food to eat; the clothes you need to keep warm; a church where you can meet together to read the Bible and worship God.  So when you see others who don’t have those things, what’s your response?  Well, here’s how you could respond.  As you read that little list, which of those things were you most grateful for:  Was it the house you live in?  Then why not consider providing emergency shelter for a child and family ($50)?  If it was clean water, you could help build water reservoirs for children and their families ($23).

 

As I’ve said before, I know Christmas can be a difficult time of year.  Compassion want to use their gift catalogue this month to raise money for children in poverty, and I want to help them.  They tell me nobody knows my audience like I do, but to be honest, I don’t know every one of my readers.  (I’d love to get to know you better, so please, always feel free to comment.)  I don’t know who’s going to stumble across this post, and I don’t know what their financial circumstances are, so I’ll just leave you with a question.

 

Giving is how we respond.  Remembering what we’ve already said this month about giving cheerfully and using what you’ve got, will you search your heart and think what you want to do about Compassion’s gift catalogue?  Are you happy to pass it by, or will you bless somebody else, as a thank-You to God for all that He gives?