Published 1/6/2009

Paul's Epistle...
"Under Control"

Well, the new year is upon us.

2008 was a year we won't soon forget. There was the collapse of the credit market and its ripple effect through the economy worldwide. Retirement accounts lost millions in value. There were firestorms out west, floods in the Midwest. Gas prices hit a record high and then a five-year low. There was an election. (Did you notice?) An earthquake in China claimed more than 69,000 lives and a cyclone in Myanmar killed more than78,000 (with 56,000 more missing).

I actually saw an Associated Press story that opened with the question, "Is everything spinning out of control?" A lot of people are asking that or at least thinking about it.

People have other questions, too. Will I still have a job? Will I be able to find a job? Will I be able to afford the essentials, let alone the "wants" in my life?

Who knows?

Well, come to think of it, there is Someone who knows the Lord! He knows our tomorrows and holds them in the palm of His hand.

The writer of Hebrews put it this way: "You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands; They will perish, but You remain... But You are the same, and Your years will not fail" (Heb. 1:10-12).

If you truly believe that God holds the future and if you truly believe that He loves you (and He does Scripture makes that clear), then you can surely count on Him you can rely on Him to take you safely through another year.

The familiar 23rd Psalm reminds us, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death [or depression, or economic uncertainty, or disaster] I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me..."

These things are sure: God will take care of us. He will meet our needs. God is in control no matter what happens.

Remember, too, that God sets a limit on what comes against us. In 1st Corinthians 10:13 Paul reminds us that God will never allow more than we can bear. He's speaking there specifically of temptation, but surely it applies as well to every problem we face.

In fact, difficult times do work to bring us closer to God. They help us understand our need to rely on Him fully as He wants us to so that we may better know His love for us.

How can we be sure God will be able to do this? As Matthew 19:26 reminds us, with God, all things are possible.

I read of one preacher who recently said this: "I don't know what the economy is going to do. It may totally tank. But here's what I know that my future, my hope, my faith, my everything is not based on the stock market or the economy. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness." Well said.

Maybe 2009 will be the year God says, "That's enough! It's time!" Maybe 2009 will be the year the Lord returns!

More than a hundred years ago, Charles Tindley wrote a hymn with this chorus:

I do not know how long twill be,
Nor what the future holds for me,
But this I know, if Jesus leads me,
I shall get home some day.

God has declared the final victory over sin. The late Roger Bennett wrote a song that says, "I've read the back of the book and we win!!"

As we move into this new year, you can either reflect and dwell on the problems of the past year or you can eagerly anticipate what God will do in 2009.

I prefer to do the latter. He IS in control!

- Paul

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