We at the FEA want to wish all of our friends and supporters a very warm New Year greeting! We are so thankful to the Lord for each of you, and specifically for your prayers, support, and interest in this ministry. While it is hard to believe that 2023 is behind us, we are grateful for the Lord’s blessing this past year. God has continued to bless the ministries of Foundation, Feature, our leaflets and booklets, as well as our audio programs “FEA Today,” “What Does the Bible Say?” and “Grace for Today” as found on Grace Global Radio. The Lord has allowed His Word to continue to be distributed around the world through this small ministry. Now, we look ahead to what the Lord has in store in the coming year should He tarry.
We always consider a new year to be a “fresh start.” Throughout Scripture, we find many examples of men and women who received a “fresh start,” and Job is just such one excellent example. If you have the opportunity, please read Job 42:10-17. This dear godly man suffered indescribable suffering and loss during his lifetime, and yet Job 42:10-17 describes how God changed Job’s circumstances. Yet before God “blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning” (v. 12a), Job needed to put the things of the past behind him. He needed to look forward rather than backward. The same is true of us if we are coming out of a trial or difficult situation in life. Notice Philippians 3:13-14, for we can learn much about our own need to press on and look ahead from the words of the apostle Paul. How, exactly, can we put the things of the past behind us?
First, we need to possess a proper view of ourselves—Paul and Job both demonstrated this. We must not feel as though we have arrived spiritually speaking, yet we must not take the other extreme and feel as though we are helpless and beyond hope. We must realize that God earnestly desires to use us, but He can only use a believer who is humble and teachable. When we have a proper, balanced view of ourselves, we will desperately want to commune with God in prayer, study His Word privately, and gather together with like-minded Christians for worship, prayer, and teaching.
Second, we need to refrain from focusing on the past—we must not focus on past victories and accomplishments; we must not focus on past hardships, trials, sorrows or disappointments; we must not focus on the unbiblical counsel we may have received from others in the past. We cannot allow our past to define our service (or lack thereof) for God right now. Our responsibility is to look ahead, “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Phil. 3:13).
Third, we need to keep looking ahead—not where we are now, but where we should be; where we will be yet future (see Eph. 4:11-16). Someone has said, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” God gives us a new beginning every day—a chance to start afresh to be everything God wants us to be. As we look ahead in 2024, we should always anticipate the any-moment return of Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-15) which should motivate us to live a life marked by purity and preparedness (1 Jn. 2:28; 2 Pet. 3:14, 17-18).
Fourth, we need to focus on the prize—ultimately, the prize is to be approved of Christ when we see Him face to face, or, as the apostle John put it, we must strive to be “confident” at His appearing (1 Jn. 1:28)! This, of course, is complemented with actual rewards based upon our motives and works. Notice what Job declared (Job 19:25-27). Paul exhorts us to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). This involves vigorous, concentrated pursuit—the word “press” describes this effort. The phrase “toward the mark” denotes the reaching of a goal, and to reach a goal means vigorous, concentrated discipline and pursuit.
Consider this new year as a “fresh start.” Reverence the person and work of God. Realize your own tendency of wandering from God. Desire fellowship with Him more. Repent of sin and confess those things that are hindering your fellowship with Him. Put behind you the things of the past. By doing so, God will bless you abundantly. This is our prayer for you and for the ministry here. We are so grateful for each of you and your fellowship with us in the Lord’s work. May God continue to guide and bless you in the year ahead. — Matt Costella