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Starting Over This Year

One of the most encouraging things about a new year is the word new. I love that word! Webster says it means: “refreshed, different from one of the same that has existed previously . . . unfamiliar.” Best of all, it’s a place to begin anew. To refresh. To change directions. To start over.

To go somewhere new, of course, it’s necessary to know where we are. That’s true in a shopping mall or on a freeway—or in life, for that matter. Very seldom do we “just happen” to wind up on the right road. The process involved in redirecting our lives is often painful, slow, and even confusing. Occasionally, it seems unbearable.

Maybe 2016 wasn’t your all-time spiritually high year. Am I right? Perhaps you’re tired. Exhausted might be a better word. You may even feel oppressed, guilty, overused, or underappreciated. The enemy of your soul is feeding you the lie, “You’re through. Finished. Forgotten. You’ve been replaced.”

It’s time to listen to a new voice.

Hearing a new perspective, however, won’t “just happen.” Not as long as you and I keep feeding our minds daily doses of media madness and political pessimism. We need a break. We need a place that encourages us to release our fears and refresh our souls as we relax in the quiet presence of the living Lord. We need to be reminded again of our mighty-fortress God. But how? Where?

Before I answer, let me ask you: What is your final authority in life? I mean, when you’re cornered, when you find yourself really up against it, what do you lean on? Where do you turn?

Before you answer too quickly, think about it. Do you realize there are only two eternal things on earth today? Only two: God’s Word and the souls of people. Everything else will ultimately be burned up. Kind of rearranges your priorities, doesn’t it? But of these two eternal things, only one is our source of truth. (Obviously, it isn’t people.)

We have no authority more reliable on earth than God’s Word, the Bible. The whole Bible—all 66 books. This timeless, trustworthy source of truth holds the key that unlocks life’s mysteries. It alone provides the shelter we need when storms rage.

But wait. How can we get so excited about something that was written by men? Oh, we have no problem with the Giver of truth. He gave it . . . but wasn’t the relay of truth corrupted when He handed it off to sinful people? How can we be sure that God’s Word is free from error, absolutely true, and therefore deserving of our complete trust? Great question. Thankfully, Paul provides great help in answering it:

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16–17)

Our confidence in the Bible is directly related to our confidence in its divine inspiration. Look closely. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful” (emphasis added). That includes those books of the Bible we seldom read. So our conclusion, based upon what God’s Word tells us, is this: in the Bible, we have the preservation of a completely dependable, authoritative, inerrant text. In response, each of us must ask ourselves: Can I rely on it, especially when I go through life’s chaotic experiences?

My answer is—and I pray it’s yours too—absolutely and unreservedly!

The wonderful thing about God’s Book? It not only tells you where you are but it tells you where to go. It renews your heart. It gives you stability. No other counsel will get you through the long haul. No other reality will give you strength for each day and deep hope for tomorrow. No other instruction has the power to give new meaning to your life.

For those things, you need one thing: the entire Bible.