Happy New Year. I pray that at the very beginning of this New Year your heart and soul are encouraged in Christ. It is by Christ’s grace that we are given a new year and it will be by his merciful power that we will be sustained another year for his glory. Every time I come to a time like this, having seen all that God has done, I cannot think a higher thought than of Christ nor can I think a deeper thought than of Christ. He is the loftiest, grandest, and supreme thought for any and all mankind and a new year is the perfect time for us all to evaluate our lives and how urgently invested we are in the work of Christ Jesus and his kingdom.
When a new year rolls around, we will often reevaluate the ways in which we are lacking and set out to make improvements. For instance, the most common “resolution” we strive toward is to “get healthy”, which includes things like regular exercise, eating healthy, and eliminating bad habits. We always start strong, with genuine determination to get fit and better ourselves. But by this time next month, our determination is waning, and by March most of us have “worked out” enough and those donuts are just too hard to resist. This isn’t meant to be a downer for you; but it is an all too common reality. We can truly relate to the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 7:15 – For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
One of the ways that Christians seek to better our spiritual lives is to set goals for ourselves in regards to bible reading, prayer, and ministry service. There is really no better place to start for any one of us than to commit ourselves to regular study of God’s word (Hebrews 4:12), sincere prayer (Ephesians 3:16), and service to our church and community (2 Thessalonians 3:13). In fact, I encourage every one of you reading this article to take a moment today and write out a plan for how you will restart your efforts to know God in his word. Read your Bible and study your Bible; it’s not just a book to read, it is a book to live out in obedience (Colossians 3:16). The more you learn the better equipped you will be to honor God with your life (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
But let me be frank with you about your efforts: There will be days of struggle and there will be days of failure. There will be times when you will not do what you want to do (read God’s Word) and you will do what you do not want (watch TV). We are easily distracted and led off course by the simplest things aren’t we? Do not despair or give up! The way to spiritual health, as we see in Isaiah 57:10, is “lengthy. . . but it is not hopeless.” Satan is so quick to tempt us with the thought that our efforts to draw closer to Jesus are pointless and so when we struggle, it feels as though we are falling too far behind, and so we give up in discouragement. Don’t quit what you begin for the glory of God. The “new life” we have in Christ cannot die because it is the resurrected life of Christ residing in us. It is imperishable and eternal (1 Peter 1:23) Therefore you can be encouraged that God is working in you always, even in your failures, to draw you closer to him. So as you look out onto the possibility of another year, be encouraged that you do not face it alone. It may seem like the end of 2014 is a long way off, but remember you thought so in 2013 and here we are! We will walk this road toward spiritual maturity together this year and we will undoubtedly need to call on one another for encouragement, prayer, and support along the way. We will get weary at times, but God promises that by his grace “we will not faint.” He will see us through another year, if it be his will. So heed the call to growth in God’s Word this year and take up the challenge to apply your mind and soul to knowing more of our great God as you dig deeper into His Word.
May God bless you this New Year and may he reveal himself more and more to us and through us for the good of our city and for the glory of his name.