AS WE WRAP UP the Christmas season and stand on the dawn of a new year, I am grateful to God for his bountiful blessings during 2007.

For some, this has been an awesome year - full of joy and triumphs. For others, this has been a difficult year - full of sorrow and pain. Whichever way you describe this past year, there is one thing for sure: God has been and is always with us. From the beginning of time, God has stood ready and able to assist, but there are a few things we must do if we want God to bless us in a new way in the new year.

What must we do? We must obey God's Word. We must love one another, forgive one another, but most importantly, we must serve one another. Just think about it for a moment. If we based every decision on God's commandments, there would be no more warfare, senseless violence, intolerance, and racial hatred. Obedience is not always easy, but we do not have to do it alone, for God promised in Hebrews 13:5: "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

God did not give His commandments to limit us; He gave us these commandments to bless us, so whenever you have the opportunity to love unconditionally, forgive and forget, or serve without expectations, take it. Embrace it.

What must we do? We must let go of pride, old grudges and self-destructive habits. These are not only detrimental to our spiritual growth but they prevent us from receiving all the blessings God has in store. They steer us away from God and often towards calamity and misfortune. If we put our energy toward prayer, meditation and the study of God's Word, we can move forward and leave those negative aspects behind us. Again, not easy, but God has promised in Philippians 4:13 that we "can do all things through Christ who strengthens us."

What must we do? We must teach our children to honor the Lord. As parents and guardians, we cannot feel that our only responsibilities are to feed, clothe and provide a good education. These things are important, but we cannot overlook the divine tasks of nurturing our children and imparting the ways of God and the love of God into their lives everyday. God tells Moses in Deuteronomy 6:6: "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you lie down and when you get up."

Children are blessings from God. We must take time to raise them, protect them, teach them and discipline them in love.

What must we do? Above all, we must have faith. Not weak, feeble or shabby faith, but a strong, mighty and sustaining faith. We must be confident and not panic when things are uncertain or do not immediately fall into place. We must believe and trust in the power and might of God. In Matthew 21:21, Jesus teaches His disciples that "if you have faith and do not doubt . . . you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done."

The same is true for us. When we wholeheartedly and unconditionally put our trust in God, He not only gives us the power to move any and all mountains, but He also blesses us exceedingly, abundantly.

It is my prayer that you will ring in the new year with abounding joy and great expectations. God really does have great blessings in store for us and we can receive them all if we align ourselves with Him. In other words, we must obey His Word, let go of pride, old grudges and self-destructive habits, teach our children to honor Him, and we must have faith. We stand on tiptoe in anticipation of the hope and promise of the New Year for we know for certain that God is with us today and always. *