This past week as I’ve been thinking about the winding down of 2017 and a brand New Year looming ahead, a passage from the Book of 1 Samuel came to mind. The book is named for Samuel who was born in answer to the fervent prayers of his mother, Hannah. He grew up to be a prophet and a judge in Israel. But when he grew old, the people decided they wanted to be like all the other nations and have a king rule over them. So they asked Samuel to appoint a king over Israel. No, actually they did not just ask, they demanded a king! So God gave them what their hearts desired. But after anointing Saul as the first king of Israel, Samuel addressed the people and pointed out their rebellion against God. After all, it was God who was to be their king. Their rejection of Him was sin.
In Chapter 12, Samuel reminded the people of God's mighty power in caring for them and their forefathers over many generations. He also confronted them with their rebellion. When their eyes were opened to realize their demand for a king was wrong and a sin in God's eyes, they were fearful. Here is what Samuel said to them: "Do not fear. You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart....Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you" (12:20,24).
Looking ahead to a New Year, we see a clean slate of 365 days upon which to write another year of our lives. It is also a time to leaf back through the pages of 2017 and consider what great things God has done for you. The changing of the calendar from 2017 to 2018 is both a time for reflection and a time for resolutions. It is a time to remember all of God’s blessings in your life, His mercies, and His grace and then, with grateful heart, commit to following and serving Him. As Samuel told the Israelites, it is not a time for fear or regrets. It is a time to remember God's grace, mercy, and mighty power that has protected and fortified you and your family in the past. And it is a time to turn away from lesser things and set your face in His direction with strong resolution to follow and serve Him with all your heart.
As far as New Year’s resolutions go, it is said that most people who make them will abandon them by February. But as Christians we are not "most people", and we do not just "make resolutions". We make a commitment to our calling. Remember, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). By His grace we have been chosen, predestined, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, lavished with grace, and sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:1-14). And, as the apostle Paul also wrote, I am confident that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
No matter what trials and troubles you and I endured in 2017 and no matter how many times we messed up and sinned, each one of us has much to be grateful for. And we have all good things to look forward to in 2018 as we follow and serve our King of kings! When you make Him the desire of your heart, all your desires will be fulfilled.
Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).
Happy New Year
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.