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A Fresh Start

January 4, 2021

The following was written by Brian Shepler, President and Executive Vice President of Client Services of Ronald Blue Trust.

As we collectively turn the page from 2020 to 2021, I’ve talked recently with many people who are earnestly seeking a fresh start following a year of challenge and unrest. 2020 will likely be remembered as a year marked by uncertainty, disruption, and disunity. However, our hope remains secure because it is built upon the solid foundation of God’s promises and faithfulness!

The following are a few Scriptures and thoughts I shared in a blog five years ago, which I believe are still very relevant today:

  • “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)
  • “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)
  • At first glance the familiar passages above, originating from two influential Old Testament figures, appear to contradict one another. In Isaiah, God is initiating something new among His people, right under their noses. Solomon, alternatively, concludes there is literally nothing new under the sun. The apparent contradiction deserves closer scrutiny — in fact, both are true.
  • Our awesome God, whose plans are perfect and whose innovation is limitless, is still in the “creation business!” He delights in developing new opportunities, providing fresh inspiration, and revealing “out of the box” solutions. All of the greatest innovations in history (past, present, and future) are sovereignly directed by Him. He is also a God who offers endless new mercies, extending generous patience to us as His children as we progress towards Christ-likeness.
  • Solomon’s “under the sun” references in Ecclesiastes, in contrast, are a reflection of humankind acting in their own strength, without reliance upon God’s input and resources. He rightly concludes that nothing truly “new” is initiated by people apart from God and without His necessary involvement, everything is meaningless! Work is unfulfilling, wealth becomes an idol, and our most treasured relationships cease to bear the fruit God intended.
  • As the page is turned from December to January each year, our hearts often long for a fresh start or a new beginning. Whether driven by a desire to leave behind a particularly difficult season or to press forward with anticipation to better times in the coming year, it seems we are innately drawn to something new, something better, or something more fulfilling. Created in God’s image, we reflect His creative nature. He invites us to join Him in the innovative Kingdom work He is doing around the world and in our local communities. With renewed hope and reignited passion, in the coming year may we avoid the familiar tendency of operating “under the sun” in our own limited strength and fully embrace the unique work God has already planned for us, tapping fully into His unmeasurable innovative resources.

At Ronald Blue Trust, we leaned into the uncertainty during 2020 and took intentional steps to enhance our operational platforms, embraced new methods of delivering advice to clients, and extended greater care to our wonderful team of professionals across the country, most of whom worked remotely for the majority of the year. God was faithful to direct many new client relationships to our advisor teams, and we witnessed remarkable levels of charitable giving among our generous clients.

We truly look forward to the coming year with the assurance that our hope will not be disappointed as it has been forged through God’s perfect continuum outlined in Romans 5, “But we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.”

Scripture quotations taken from the NIV(R) Copyright by Biblica, Inc.(TM)

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