Here we are on the precipice of another school year and ministry year. It seems crazy that we are already here, and I am very aware of the reality that this school year is not starting in the way that any of us would have chosen or were hoping for. There are so many areas of our life that are not how we would have chosen or imagined. We are definitely living in some crazy times. Uncertainty abounds with COVID-19 and fires. Anxiety and fear over how this year is playing out loom large. Financial and emotional insecurities are very real and are just beginning to scratch the surface.
Yet God, in the midst of all of this, has called and chosen each and every one of us to be placed in this moment in this place to be his hands and feet doing ministry to people in need of love, grace, hope, and especially Jesus. While this task may be daunting, please know that every step of the way God is with you and empowering you. Not only is God with us, but we are all in this together as a ministry united together under Christ to accomplish His mission among us.
As we walk into this year, I want to bring you back to our theme verse for the school for the coming year from Romans 15:13:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
As I look at this passage, I want to invite you in this moment to stop and focus on where this passage starts.
What is the third word? God.
What is the foundation for the entire message of this passage? God.
What is source of the promise of joy and peace and hope found in this passage? God.
Who is the one who called you into this place into this moment into this season of ministry? God.
Who is going to get us through the messiness that is this coming year? God.
So, let’s take a moment and reflect upon who this God is.
God is our maker. With a word, He spoke creation into place making the sun and the moon and the stars. He made the Grand Canyon and the Andes and the Alps. He made the aardvark, the anteater, and the ant. And God made you and me. God is not a wimp. God is great. God is powerful. God is mighty. God can do more than we could ever imagine.
But God is not just mighty. God is a real present God. It’s the story of the baby crying in a manger in Bethlehem and the message of the angels on that first Christmas so long ago, as God himself came down to make his presence among us in Jesus. God is our Immanuel, God with us. It’s the promise of Matthew 28 that God will be with us always. It’s the picture of the fire coming out of the dudes’ head on Pentecost as they received the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. It’s the reality that there has never been a breath that you have taken when God hasn’t been there with you. God is an ever present God who is always with us in the best of times and the worst of times.
It’s what we see on the cross that God is a God who is for us not against us. He is a God who loves us so much that He would die for us. He is a God who would take on sin, take on death, take on the devil, take on everything in this world, that He might give us victory on Easter morning. He is a God who loves, forgives, heals, restores, and renews.
This is the God that Paul says is active in our lives filling us with joy and peace and hope.
As we walk into this year, if our focus is on what is happening in the world around us, we will most likely get depressed pretty quick. If we spend our time navel gazing focused on ourselves and what we want and aren’t getting or our circumstances making ourselves victims, we will be disappointed pretty quick. But as our focus turns from out there in the world or inside on us to focus instead on the God who made us, loves us, and is always with us we can be filled with joy and peace and hope. As we walk into this new ministry year, let’s fix our eyes on God and focus on Him.
I know this new year is going to be a wild and crazy ride, but I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in us, among us, and through us. Through God’s grace and power, let’s make it a great year!
Pastor Kevin Austin