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The Old Year and the New

January 1995


As we cross the threshold which leads to a new year, we reflect upon the year which has just ended, and we greet the new year with quiet anticipation. In bidding farewell to the old year, we pause to give thanks for its many blessings . Some of these blessings have come to us as beautifully wrapped gifts. We have welcomed them with receptive hearts because they have brought us immediate joy. And without hesitation we have raised our hands and we have lifted our hearts in a spirit of thankfulness to our Father in heaven.

But not all of God’s gifts come in such attractively wrapped packages . Some of these gifts we are inclined to reject rather than accept. Yes, we may even wonder if it is really God who has given them since the Bible teaches that He gives good and perfect gifts. In the school of experience we have learned that many of God’s best gifts have been those which we would have rejected had the choice been ours. God does not always give us the things that satisfy our momentary fleeting desires or even our long-felt inner needs . It is not His practice to give us what we think we need. Instead He gives us what He knows would lend to our temporal success and be for our eternal benefit.

As we look back upon the events of 1994, let us be assured that even the year’s most difficult experiences are not indicative of God’s displeasure, but are a reflection of His love. The Bible teaches us that no trial is pleasant during the time we are enduring it, but God promises that the benefit will become evident later. Let us ask God to mold us so that we may submit to His will, being assured that in all things He works together for good to them that love Him, to them who called according to His purpose . Then even at the end of this year we can erect our stone of help, our Ebenezer, as did the Prophet Samuel and with him we can say Hitherto hath the Lord helped us

As we prayerfully begin this new year, let it be with firm reliance on God’s sustaining promises . At the age of twelve I was first introduced to a Bible verse which has become a special source of encouragement to me. Autograph books were very popular at that time. Mine contained brief poems written by classmates , notes by my siblings and messages by other Christian friends. The writing in my childhood autograph book that had the greatest impact upon my life was by an elder in the congregation who later became a preacher of the Word . In his native Norwegian language, he wrote the words: As thy days are, so shall thy strength be. (Deuteronomy 33:25)

From the archives of the late Pastor Alvin Holmgren, January 1995

I posted this article last year, but it seems to have added new meaning due to the events of this past year. The promises of God do not apply only to the Church in a larger sense, but to each one of us as individuals. It is amazing how a short Bible verse can have impact throughout a life time. May we all be encouraged to look to what God has promised in the Scriptures and fulfilled in His Son Jesus the Christ. Isaac Watts put it so well in his song “O God, Our Help in Ages Past:”

1"O God, our help in ages past, 
our hope for years to come, 
our shelter from the stormy blast, 
and our eternal home;

2 under the shadow of your throne 
your saints have dwelt secure. 
Sufficient is your arm alone, 
and our defense is sure.

3 Before the hills in order stood, 
or earth received its frame,
from everlasting you are God, 
to endless years the same.

4 A thousand ages in your sight 
are like an evening gone, 
short as the watch that ends the night 
before the rising sun.

5 Time, like an ever-rolling stream, 
soon bears us all away. 
We fly forgotten, as a dream 
dies at the op’ning day.

6 O God, our help in ages past, 
our hope for years to come,
still be our guard while troubles last, 
and our eternal home." 

May the Lord bless each of you in this coming year. Every day is a new day of His Grace!

Pastor Stan

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