What I have felt the Lord say to me is this, “If you think 2015 passed quickly…. This year will be faster still – 2016 will be the year of acceleration!”

At that, you may well join with me in a little cough! What, faster??? I feel as if I’m running as fast as I can – and I’m still struggling to keep up! We understand from the physical point – being overweight means that we can’t do what we should be able to, or at least we can’t do it as quickly as we might. And the same is true of the spirit as well. Remember what the writer to the Hebrews says:

Hebrews 12 : 1   Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

There are many who have gone on before us, who have run the race…. And finished it well. They are the “cloud of witnesses” cheering us on in our running. Like Paul, they can say, “We have fought the good fight, we have finished the race, we have kept the faith!” (2Tim 4: 7)

And that is of course great encouragement to us today – however, we still have a fight on our hands, we still have to finish the race, and at the same time make sure that we have kept the faith!

In 2016 there will undoubtedly be many challenges; times when the opposition will rise up in our faces to make demands and difficulties that will need to be confronted. Times when the heat of the battle, the obstacles and terrain will make the finishing line seem to be “out of sight” and the opportunities to “give up” will be on every hand. Don’t take them. Make the right choice – keep going! You know it’s got to be worth it. And it is….. this year, we will see it!

But my encouragement at the very start of 2016 is to not listen to the opposition, don’t be swayed by the opinion of others, neither be concerned whether you can see the finishing line or not – but rather, let your spirit be encouraged by the truth of God’s Word.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Saviour, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.”   (Jude 24)

Remember, He is ABLE when we know we can’t go on any further – let’s keep that in mind this year. When the knees want to buckle and the terrain is so rough, you don’t know where to step…. He is able to keep you from stumbling! Just keep going! He will place your feet – and give you the ground you step on!

Of course we must make sure that we are not carrying excess weight! That would be silly. Whoever would run a race in baggy jeans, or carrying a change of clothes just in case they fall at the water jump? That might seem funny, but far too many Christians have decided to carry their “Justin Case” with them on the journey. Maybe up till now, that little case hasn’t posed too much of a problem – but the warning in January is this; the way ahead is going to be steep, the temperatures are going to soar, and the pace is going to get much faster – it’s time to leave the “Justin Case” at home! You don’t need it! It’s unnecessary weight – lay it aside! It will become something that gets entangled in your faith! And faith don’t mix with fear! The “Justin Case” is actually fear! We carry it round because we are not quite sure that “God’s got it covered, whether in fact He will “step in” or not”. Remember, we are to “keep the faith!” And that means, no fear! It was the message we’ve just heard at Christmas, and therefore we carry it forward to 2016. The plan is – “No Fear!”

Let’s make sure we are all spiritually fit and ready for the acceleration in God’s plan and purpose for Sure Hope Church in 2016! It is truly going to be great, wild and full of Him. There will undoubtedly be times when the opportunity to doubt will cross your path – but keep on keeping on. When the battle rages, double the effort. Double your time in God’s word, double your daily time in prayer, double ……. When we double, that means trouble…. Trouble to the one who wants to steal, kill and destroy…so we will run all the harder!

Ps. David