The church here in Nicaragua differs from the church in the States in a number of ways. One of those is that many of the Christian holidays that are a big deal in the States are less so here (done in large part to differentiate themselves from Catholics). In fact, Christmas and Easter are both downplayed here. Churches may do a special gift drive for kids, or a special program, but it is nothing like Christmas Eve services in the US. The majority of churches also downplay Easter, perhaps making a mention of it during services, but certainly not anything like the focus it is given in the States. Yet, there is one day that is treated with special care and significance, and that day is today: New Year’s Day. Today many churches will have to rent extra chairs to pack in all the people that will show up to worship. Today they will give thanks to God for all the blessings of the year gone by, and pray for God’s blessing and guidance in the year to come. I think that’s a great tradition, and I encourage all of us to do the same on our own today. 

First, what are you thankful for in this past year? How has God blessed you, sustained you, guided you, helped you through difficulty, and showed you His perfect love? When has He filled you with joy, and when has He carried you through the greatest of difficulties? 

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Psalm 107:1-3

Second, what guidance and help do you need from God in the year to come? Maybe you are searching for a new purpose or calling, or maybe you simply need God to continue encouraging you on your path. Maybe there are specific challenges coming your way, or the fear of the unexpected is causing you anxiety. Today, give your dreams, aspirations, fears, and anxieties for 2019 over to God. Trust Him to be your guide every day of this coming year. 

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord. So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure! Psalm 32:8-11