The year 2022 will begin in less than two weeks. In one sense, at this time of year, we look back at what God has done, and in another sense, we look forward to what He will do. In other words, we look Back to the Future. You may remember the 1985 movie about a young man who traveled back in time and, in so doing, changed his future. Well, for us as individuals and as a church, to understand our future, we must take a look at God’s past blessings.
This past year our personal lives and the life of our church have changed in many ways. We’ve said goodbye to loved ones and friends. In some cases, it has been the bittersweet occasion of death. Bitter because it always hurts to lose someone you love – and sweet because you know in your heart of hearts that they are with their Savior. We have also been separated from people when God sovereignly moved in the lives of some and He led them to new, sometimes faraway places.
We’ve also welcomed many new friends at Lifeway. Many by natural birth – even more by the supernatural new birth in Jesus Christ. Others came as they sensed the leading of the Spirit after hearing about the great things God is doing at Lifeway Church. We’ve grown both spiritually and numerically as we were blessed by God in 2021.
I fully expect that God will do even greater things for us in 2022. I believe that by this time next year we will have our minds blown by what God has done in our midst. The reason I can expect these things to take place is that I am certain that our God is not going out of business in 2022. If we will but prepare our hearts, if we will just be obedient, if we will simply honor Christ with our lives, there is no telling what God will do in and through us in 2022! As the apostle Paul said in Romans 8:31, “Since God is for us, who or what can be against us?” God is “for us!” I have no doubt about that! Why? Because I know that…
God prays for us!
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Pray hardest when it’s hardest to pray.” The good news is that when it is hardest to pray, God prays for us. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26).
In 2022 there will be times when we are faced with challenges that seem insurmountable. They will take place in your life and in mine, and in the life of our church. We will face dilemmas, contradictions, impasses and quandaries. But don’t worry, and don’t fear – God will be praying for us.
The word “helps” in Greek means to “join in to help”. It is used in only one other place in Scripture, Luke 10:40, where Martha asks Jesus to get Mary to help her. This implies that this type of help is very practical. When we don’t know how to pray, when we struggle in prayer, God the Holy Spirit prays for us. He takes our prayers, rephrases them, and presents them to the Father on our behalf.
You’ve seen a foreign film that has been dubbed into English, haven’t you? When the characters speak, their lips move one way but the words don’t correspond. In the same way, when we pray and we are uncertain of what we should pay for, the Holy Spirit dubs His voice over ours so that our prayers can be heard at the throne of God. God can do this because He knows us, inside and out, through and through. “And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8:27)
In 2022 we are going to take some big steps for God at Lifeway Church. And we will take them in the full confidence that as we obey God and launch out into the deep waters, He is praying for us!
God always gives us His best!
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
We often labor under the misconception that bad things can happen to us. We believe that we can be victimized by events in our lives. But that isn’t the case. The Bible makes the incredible promise that God will cause everything that happens to work out for the best. Do you know what that means? Nothing truly bad can happen to you! God is in control of every situation, and He’ll make it work out right according to His eternal will!
Whatever comes our way in 2022 as individuals or as a church, we can be sure that God’s grace will always be sufficient, and God’s greatness, glory, and power will be seen through our weaknesses. That means that even what Satan brings into our lives, no matter how hard he tries to defeat us, he can’t succeed.
God chose us!
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29)
What we need to learn from this verse is that you and I have a place in the eternal plan and purposes of God. We are precious to Him. We mean something to Him. Who and where we are today God knew about long before the pyramids in Egypt were ever built. In fact, even before the world was created, we were in the heart and mind of God. We also need to learn that God’s purpose for choosing us is nothing short of Christ-likeness. God’s ultimate purpose for us is that we would be like his son.
God has a purpose for Lifeway church as well. God has done wonderful things for us in 2021. We have seen growth. We have seen positive change. We have seen God’s blessing on our congregation as people were saved and baptized and new members have joined with us. Miracles galore have taken place. All of this was in God’s eternal purpose. It did not happen by accident. Before the world began God eternally purposed that our church should bring people to Him and lead them to become like God the Son!
The same is true in your individual life. God has blessed you this past year. He has been good and gracious to you. You have grown in your Christlikeness as you learned more of Him. All of this has been God’s purpose. God chose you for this moment, for this time, for this place, for His eternal purpose. He has a great plan for you and me in 2022. I can’t wait to see what it is!
God supplies our needs!
“He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
God knows what we need more than we know ourselves. We didn’t know that we needed salvation, but God knew, so He sent us His Son. We didn’t know that sin would destroy our lives, but God knew, so He made forgiveness and restoration available to us. We didn’t know that peace of mind is more valuable than money in the bank, but God knew, so He gives to us His perfect peace. We didn’t know that we would need spiritual power to make it through life from day to day, but God knew, so He sent us His Spirit and made us more than conquerors.
Whatever we as individuals or we as a church will need to carry out the plans God has for us in 2022, God will supply. “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Wherever God leads Lifeway Church in the New Year, we will have the resources to carry out His mission. God will never leave us wanting in our work for Him. God’s will, done God’s way, will never lack God’s resources!
In 2022 we will be going back to the future! Back because God has been our Lord, Provider and Guide in 2021; to the future because He is going to continue to be our faithful Father and Shepherd in 2022. Here is one last point to Ponder: Our tomorrow is as bright as the promises of God!