January 1, Sunday (“Happy New Year 2023”)

UPDATED Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 1, 2016.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“I Can Do Everything Through Him who Gives Me Strength”

Acts 1:1-1 (NIV)

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach. 

Luke 1:1-3

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account . . .

Thomas Sowell never knew his father who died before his birth. He grew up in the South in the mid-20th century where his encounters with Caucasians were so rare that “he did not know that blond was a hair color.” After dropping out of high school, it seemed very unlikely that he would one day become a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author of thirty books.

Luke the Gospel writer was just as unlikely to have become one of the authors who penned the bestselling book of all time. In fact, he is the only Gentile among the forty whose writing was included.  Furthermore, he is the second leading contributor to the New Testament after Paul: the Gospel of Luke and Acts combine for fifty-two chapters.   

So, just how improbable was his success?  First, as a non-Jew, Luke was an unlikely candidate to tell the gospel story that originated from Jewish Scripture and culture.  Second, unlike John and Matthew, he wasn’t an eyewitness to the events he described.  Third, as for his training, Luke was a physician (Col. 4:10), not groomed to be a writer.  Also, it’s also possible that Luke was even a slave, since according to Commentator William Barclay, “even doctors and teachers . . . were slaves” in the Roman Empire. 

When given a challenge or difficult task, the first thing we often say is, “I can’t; it’s too hard.”  The outcome of Sowell and Luke’s life suggests otherwise.  While hard work (Prov. 14:23) and determination (24:16) led to Sowell’s rise, Luke presents an additional component: God equips and empowers those who obey His call.  In that context, we can proclaim, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).   

In 2023, for what challenging task will you trust God: a new business, degree program, or even forgiveness?  Whatever it is, do all things in obedience to God’s general will, clearly spelled out in the Scripture: for instance, eschew greed (Col. 3:5), selfish ambition (Phil. 2:3) and bitterness (Heb. 12:15).  As you do so, God will strengthen you to succeed in and for Him.  May this year be like no other year! 

Prayer: Father, as the New Year commences, I praise You for all that happened in 2022—both good and bad—and thank You in advance for a wonderful journey of faith that the new year will bring.  Help me never to forget how unlikely it was for You to save me; but You did because of your immense love.  May I live for You the fullest in 2023.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 1

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