To prepare ourselves for the New Year 2017, we need to be prepared for whatever God has for us – for tomorrow, for 2017 and beyond, even into Heaven.
We cannot underestimate the power of Praise and the value of Worship in preparing, strengthening and equipping us for All He has for us to do.
“Pray without ceasing…” (1Thessalonians 5:17) includes praise. This is expressed through our attitude to life and in our way of being, as well as from particular words and songs to God. To celebrate our faith, we praise our God in all circumstances and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Then, through that capacity to Love which is God given through His Holy Spirit, we love our neighbours as ourselves (Luke 10:27).
It is my firm belief, that in order to love completely, we first need to learn to accept and love ourselves. This is not as automatic or as easy as it might appear. Most of us have aspects to ourselves we shun. Learning to love ourselves as God loves us is a journey for most of us. (My book “Free to Be” offers my experience and insight into that process, using scripture, prayer and reflection.)
To love God is also a process: one of becoming more deeply committed and more deeply familiar with God as Father, with Jesus His son, and with the comforter, the Holy Spirit. We discover through studying the Word of God, through the fellowship with other believers and by prayer.
When love for our neighbour springs from our love of God, we follow as Jesus the Master leads. He taught us that the poor would always be with us but that nevertheless, we must care for them and for widows, orphans, prisoners and the lost. However, when we lead from ourselves, we can make unwise choices and end up serving our neighbour but not in ways that are best for him. Even Jesus did not heal all people, but only for those whom God led him to.
As we praise the LORD and as we pray to Him, we draw into His will and His power.
We lift our eyes and hands to Heaven in praise. We sing, dance, play a musical instrument as part of praise. Whether alone or in company, there is always opportunity to praise. Through it we release anointing and sense His presence to lead and guide us. Praise brings with it joy, and is a weapon against depression, oppression and stagnation.
As regards worship, it is often a deepening of thanks and celebration that we express as praise. Through worship we express reverence and enter into that deep place of intimacy with God, that helps us to hear His still small voice (1 Kings 19:12).
Whatever style or form of expression our worship and praise might take, we will give glory to God and lift ourselves and those around us. As we enter into 2017, let us enter into His courts (Psalm 100:4) and be ready to hear His call for the days ahead.
May each and every one of you find peace, joy and love this Christmas as you prepare for all the LORD has in store for the year ahead.