A Prayer for the New Year
Published January 4, 2023
A new year is a terrific opportunity to reflect on your life and especially your relationship with the Lord. As we grow older and hopefully more mature in our faith, we realize that we are in desperate need for the Lord to sanctify our lives and make us more like Him. What we resolve for this inaugural month of 2023 should guide us closer to that worthy goal.
One of the pillars of Desert Hills’ mission statement is “love” – specifically to “Love God.” In 2023, my prayer for our church is that we love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength; and from that unwavering love for God, an increased love for each other within our local body. The verse that comes to mind is 1 John 4:7 – “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God.”
I love how direct and black and white John is throughout his gospel and letters. You can’t get any more clear and concise than John’s writing, and that is true for this verse about love. John doesn’t require us to love based on the qualities of other people but exhorts us to love based on our relationship with the Father. If we are born of God and know God, we will love. God’s love displayed in our lives and how we act toward others is what marks a believer of Jesus Christ. You cannot be a Christian if love for others is non-existent.
This truth about God’s love is completely the opposite in the world around us. We are inundated with messaging campaigns from every medium, direction, and industry about “love,” but these are far from God’s love. The world’s love is baseless, self-indulging, and corrupted. In fact, the world’s idea of love is so tainted that it demands love of actions and behaviors that God abhors. The last place a born-again believer should turn for advice on love is to the world.
Rather, love is from God. It originated with Him and is sustained by Him in us – through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. John 3:16 reminds us that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” This love is antithetical to the world, but it must be cherished by those who are born of God and know God.
God’s love, demonstrated so sharply through Jesus’s path through the cross and the grave, gives us the motivation and the foundation to love one another. Loving each other is hard – even in the church. It requires prayer, forgiveness, self-denial, and sacrifice. These elements don’t come easy for believers because we are still in process of being made like Christ. Yet they are attainable through the finished work of Christ on our behalf. 1 John 4:19 tells us that “We love, because He first loved us.”
So, I pray, that in 2023, we become a church that is increasingly known by our love for one another based on God’s love for us. Together, united in our love for each other, we can display God’s love to a world that is desperately in need of it.
Dr. Robb Brunansky is the Pastor-Teacher of Desert Hills Bible Church.