A new year is always a time when we make resolutions to change our lives for better outcomes.

As a young man, I thought when I gave my life to Christ I would be free from any real pain and suffering. Yet, I learned that “man born of a woman is of a few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).

Some trials and tribulations even come because we love the Lord. The devil has no power or authority over us as children of God, but that does not mean he does not tempt us or tries to discourage us.

In one of my daily devotions, a man declares that the Christian life is “battles and blessings” and he repeats this phrase at least seven times. Then I thought, why the repetition? But he was making a memorable and profound point. Battles and blessings are in stride with one another. Pastor Rick Warren says that he, at one time, used to think that the Christian life was a succession of battles and blessings, whereas now he thinks of life as being on two tracks. At any given moment in life, there are usually blessings, but also battles. Warren gives the example of the huge blessing that came to him through the publication of “The Purpose Driven Life,” which became the fastest-selling Christian book of all time. It gave him enormous influence. But, at the same time he found out that his wife, Kay, had cancer. On one track of his life there was great blessing but on the other track there was a massive battle to face.

So the question is how do we not only survive but thrive in our battles and blessings? First seek God for the vision He has for our lives. God told the Prophet Habakkuk to “write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that read it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie … but the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:1-4).

Then, stay as close to God as one can through prayer, Bible reading and meditation. Not only will He be close to you, He will dwell in you.

In the book of Mark the first chapter, John the Baptist declares, “I have baptized you with water, but Jesus will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus himself told His Disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Finally Paul declares, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

The Holy Spirit will not take away the battles, but it will ensure your blessings according to God’s will. Remember, God blesses us to be a blessing to others. And when you are a blessing to others, the homeless will find homes, those hungry will eat, the hopeless will find hope, and the sinner man will be saved.

Let us resolve: each one, reach one — and our battles will not compare to our blessings, and new beginnings will change this world.

The Rev. Carey N. Ingram is the pastor at Lovejoy Baptist Church.

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