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Scharf: A New Year with the Lord
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Deuteronomy 31:8 says: "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

That's all that needs saying, isn't it? The LORD himself is with you. I know, we just entered a new year, with all the nostalgia and excitement, all the worry and "what ifs" that brings.

This is a time of year we can get pretty carried away in two opposite extremes. There's the initial optimism where we are all convinced that we can lose 40 pounds, double our income, increase our love and heal every relationship. Then, when the resolutions start falling by the wayside (or maybe just because we know that they will) there's the pessimism. "This year will be just like last year." "I don't know why I even try - nothing ever changes." "Same old, same old."

And if that is all it boils down to, what's the point? While it is a certainty that most of the resolutions you readers have made will fall before December 31, 2012, there is something more certain. When God makes a resolution - it does not fail. In the verse I quoted up above, Moses is passing on this comfort to the new leader Joshua.

Think of how Moses had seen that. If you want to review, read the book of Exodus. One hundred twenty years earlier, he had been born condemned to die, and instead found himself raised in the wealthiest and most powerful household in the world. Eighty years earlier, he had found himself wanted for murder, being chased by the most powerful legal system in the world. But instead of being executed, he got to be trained in patience and wisdom for 40 years. Then, just forty years earlier, he found himself on the run, pursued by the most powerful army in the world and trapped between that and the sea. But God split the sea and destroyed that army, so that that country would never be called the "most" anything in the world ever again.

Then he and his people were on the brink of dying of thirst, when God miraculously gave them fresh water. Then, they were starving, and God fed them manna for forty years in the desert. Time after time they went up against overwhelming odds, and time and time again, God demonstrated the truth of what Moses passed on: "The LORD himself goes before you."

Friends, listen to me: "The LORD himself goes before you." The same God that split the Red Sea and brought water from a rock goes before you.

In 2011, did you ever feel like things wouldn't work out? The LORD was there before you. Did you see him? If not, it's not because he wasn't there. Look back. Notice how God worked. Look behind the scenes and you'll see God's hand brought you through 2011 with all its blessings and challenges, and has you right here, right now, reading this reminder of the confidence you can have in 2012.

So, what does the New Year hold? Maybe you'll become a millionaire. The odds are better you'll lose your job. Maybe you'll have a whirlwind romance. Reality says heartbreak is more likely. Truth be told, I can't tell you what will happen in your life in 2012. What I can tell you is that, when you remain in him, when you spend time in God's Word - "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

Since that is true - enjoy your 2012. Make it a year that you see the truth of that promise more than you ever have before. That will only happen when you resolve to spend more time listening to God and watching him work. And that happens through the Word. So make a resolution to spend time watching your God in action. Read his Word daily. Join your fellow believers in worship weekly. Come and see the works of the LORD. He is with you this New Year. That's a resolution he keeps.

God bless your 2012 with all the peace and joy he won for you by the life, death and resurrection of His Son!

Happy New Year!

In Christ,

Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at