GSFA Devotional: Bread for Our Journey
New Year (8th January 2022)
2022, A New Year with a fresh vision.
“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings,” Philippians 3:10 (ESV)
When a new year begins, many people, me included, make new resolutions and pledges. However, a few days or weeks later we forget about these resolutions and return to the way we used to live. The question I want to know an answer to it is, how can I follow through with the resolutions I have made? I cannot find an answer to this question but when we study the Scriptures, we find examples of God’s people who were able to fulfil their promises to God to the end of their lives.
One of them is Paul. When he met Jesus at the road to Damascus, he asked Him, “What shall I do, Lord?” Acts 22:10 (ESV). Jesus did not tell him what he wanted but he told him, “But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” Acts 9:6 (ESV). However, Jesus made it clear to Ananias when he said to him “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” Acts 9:15-16 (ESV). This meant that Jesus’ purpose for Paul’s life was
to be a chosen vessel for the Lord, i.e., God’s Holy Spirit will dwell in him.
to witness for Him.
to suffer for His sake.
Most probably Ananias shared these words with Paul, who committed himself to the Lord’s plan for him.
Years later, while Paul was in prison, he wrote describing his vision in life with these words, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death”. Philippians 3:10 (ESV)
As we can see from this vision, that was precisely the same as God’s purpose for him.
Knowing Him – meant to have an intimate relationship with God (God dwelling in him by his Holy Spirit).
Knowing the power of His resurrection – meant he experienced Christ being alive. This helped Paul to witness for Him with boldness.
Sharing His sufferings – meant he was ready to suffer as he witnessed for Christ.
We know that the modern world in which we live today cannot tolerate suffering. However, the early Christians understood very well what Jesus meant when he said, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27 (ESV). This explains why Paul wanted to share in “the sufferings of Christ”. It also explains why the disciples rejoiced when they were persecuted, as it is written “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name.”. Acts 5:41(ESV)
Brothers and sisters, if we want to follow through with our New Year resolutions, first we need to make sure that these are “according to God’s purpose for our lives”. Secondly, we need to keep them always in front of our eyes. Thirdly, lest we forget, we need to commit ourselves to fulfil them afresh every day.
My beloved, may I suggest that, during 2022, we and our churches may resolve to commit ourselves to witnessing to Jesus and His Kingdom and endure with joy all hardships that may happen because of such witness. Indeed, we can bring hope to those in despair, peace to those living in conflict and joy to those who mourn. Our broken world is in dire need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Let us commit our lives to this.
Happy New Year!
The Most Revd Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis
Archbishop Emeritus of The Episcopal / Anglican Province of Alexandria
Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA)