Welcome to a new year! I can’t remember another time in the history of my life when people were more ready to move forward and forget the perils of the previous year. Of course, at the time, the “Y2K” panic of 1999 and the 9-11 attacks and subsequent market crash of 2001 motivated the majority of Americans to look forward to a “fresh start” in each of those tragic periods of time, but it seems the stress and angst of those past events pale in comparison to what we have experienced in 2020. The COVID-19 flu, the socialist infiltration of our nation through the racial and political upheavals that are changing the fabric of our nation, and the national election that has revealed how divided we are as a country have left many (if not most) Americans full of angst and agitation. 

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but to be honest, I really do not feel as though much will fundamentally change in 2021. The events that are transpiring are just the beginning of a new way of life. I believe this is true because the changes in our society and culture are personally impacting our daily lives, and they are not just national issues but global ones. In the past, government leaders could pass legislation or endorse a political or social position, but the consequences rarely trickled down to the common “man-on-the-street”—at least not immediately. Not so anymore. And, in the past, catastrophic events might impact a nation or two (or three), but not the entire world. Not so anymore. And, in the past, any citizen of this great nation could exercise his or her freedom of speech and voice his or her opinion (whether it was acceptable or not in the eyes of the majority or the minority) and everyone understood that our United States Constitution allows such freedom of expression or dissent. Not so anymore. The court of social opinion (primarily through the avenue of social media) is making sure that anyone who does not fall in line with the social, cultural, political, and religious views of the “influencers” and “cultural police” within our society is scolded, silenced, and shamed.

I do not intend this to sound as negative as it does because my entire intent is to encourage you to focus on how blessed you really are as a child of God and a “joint heir with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). The situation in which we find ourselves is still better than it was for those who lived in the first century under Roman rule—people such as Peter, Paul, Stephen, John, Jude, and James. If God’s desire for these and other believers in the first century was to press forward in faithfulness to Him for His glory, then the same is true for us today. Yes, life is changing, but now is not the time to give up or give in; now is not the time to become bogged down in the slough of despair and focus on nothing but the “negatives” all around us. Paul told Timothy that despite the world and the church growing “worse and worse,” he was to “continue in the things” that he had learned and been assured of (2 Tim. 3:14) and he was to “endure hardness” as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 2:3). The foundation of Timothy’s faith rested in the Word of God, and the progression of Timothy’s spiritual walk also rested in the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:15-17). On what food are we feasting? News, social media, cultural or political pundits? If so, our walk will be marked by despair and defeat. Yet if we are feasting on the Word of God, our walk will be marked by vibrancy and victory. It is true: We are what we eat!

This coming year, let us not succumb to the enemy of our souls who is seeking to devour us in every way possible (1 Pet. 5:8). Let us rise up above the muck and mire all around us and make much of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as well as His Message to us through the Scriptures. Let us feast on His Word and fellowship with His children. Let us encourage and exhort one another rather than allow bitterness and animosity to characterize our speech and demeanor. In all things, may our wonderful Lord and Savior be glorified in our lives and in His church this coming year. Stand out, and stand apart!

— Matt Costella


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