The beginning of a new year is such an interesting time—I see it as the cusp between the past and the future. We often think back over our experiences of the past year, as well as look ahead to what the new year will bring. It can be encouraging to see the challenges met, the victories won, the progress made, the commitments carried through, and the blessings we’ve had throughout the previous year. It’s also a time to assess areas where we had hoped we’d make headway and yet didn’t quite live up to our aspirations. Perhaps there were hard times and difficulties, or even some outright failures, that we experienced and learned from.
The new year is a time when we make resolutions, or commitments to ourselves, for the year ahead. I have recently been thinking and praying about what commitments I want to make in this year ahead. One conclusion I’ve come to is that I need to make specific commitments regarding my relationship with the Lord, my faith, my discipleship, and the commission of sharing Him with others.
It seems that with the busyness of life, needing to keep up with all that must be done, it’s so easy to let our relationship with the Lord get relegated to a lesser position, unless commitments are made to keep it first. Everything important in life requires time and resources, and when our lives become super busy, the time and resources we put toward our faith, the Lord, and the mission can easily diminish. The next thing we know we’re praying very little and reading His Word even less. With so little time to do all the things that need to be done, it’s easy to push our relationship with God down the ladder of importance.
It’s also easy to excuse ourselves for neglecting the mission. “Life’s too busy,” “I’m focusing on my studies, my work, my kids, my life.” This morning I was reading in Luke’s Gospel and came upon Luke 10:2, which says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
In short, this verse tells us that there are plenty of people who need salvation and who would receive it, but the problem is that there aren’t enough laborers to tell them all. We’re instructed to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth more laborers. Not only should we pray for that, but we should also put feet to those prayers by committing to participate to whatever extent we can to make a difference in the lives of those whom the Lord brings across our path. But of course, to do so requires a commitment on our part.
The tasks of supporting ourselves and our families, raising and educating our children, taking care of our daily needs, are all vital responsibilities and are part of what builds a better future in this life and world; yet we are also reminded of what Jesus told His followers: Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
Making commitments to our relationship with God, to the mission, to living our core values based on His teachings, can and will make a difference in our daily lives throughout our lifetime and in the hereafter as well. The result of such commitments will make us better individuals, more godly human beings, more Christlike in our interactions with others, and a greater blessing to our families, friends, and loved ones. That’s worth committing to!
A time to take stock
The end of the year is always a good time to look back and take stock, to examine the victories and even the defeats of the past year, to thank the Lord for all His blessings and all the triumphs, and to see what changes you might need to make for the year ahead. Remember, what the new year brings to you depends a lot on what you bring to it.
So try to take time for reflection. Take a little time to review the commitments you’ve made to the Lord. Take some time to ask Him how you’re doing and to hear His voice. And then take action to make the new year an even better one!
You don’t have to be bound by the past, whether it’s the past year or just yesterday! Today’s a new day, a new chance, full of new opportunities to be a brand-new person. Be a “new you” today and see what new things the Lord will do for you! Happy New Year!
—David Brandt Berg
The New Year like a book lies before me;
On its cover two words, “My Life,” I see.
I open the covers and look between—
Each page is empty, no words can be seen,
For I am a writer, I hold the pen
That’ll fill these pages to be read by men.
Just what kind of book will my book be,
My life written there for others to see,
Each day a page written, one by one—
Will it be worthwhile when I am finished and done?
Lord, help me keep the pages clean and fair
By living the life I’d have written there.
—Gertrude Laura Gast
The year-end is a good time to look back and thank the Lord for all that He helped you to do. The end of one year and the beginning of another is also a good time to look ahead, to get the vision of what the Lord wants to do in the months to come, and there’s nothing like His Word to provide that vision!
My desire, to be like You, Lord,
My desire, to be like You.
Your Spirit fills me,
Your love o’erwhelms me,
And helps me, Lord, to be like You.
At the beginning of a new year, what we want the most is to be like Jesus and to help others to know Him and be like Him too. But others can’t be like Him if we don’t help to show them how; that’s the Lord’s plan. Like Saint Paul said, “And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14) And unfortunately, if we don’t follow Him as we should, others may not have the chance to hear and believe.
On the last night of the old year before the New Year comes in, it’s a good time to sit down and think, “What have I accomplished this past year? I wonder if I have done my best for Jesus, when He has done so much for me!” Has it truly been His year lived for Him, by His power and His strength and His guidance in His will, having the fruits of His Spirit and the fruits of obeying His Word? Has it been a year that you’re thankful for because you’re sure the Lord is pleased with it?
Thank the Lord and count your blessings. What are you most thankful for during the past year? What prayer or hope do you have for the New Year? What verse do you claim for the New Year?
Help us, Lord, as we start this New Year to look forward with faith. Give us strength to do what You want. Lead us and guide us and keep us in Your will, Lord. Give us a good year, whatever comes, that it’ll be one that we’ve lived to the fullest for You!
Another year is dawning, dear Master let it be, in witness and winning, another year with Thee.
—David Brandt Berg
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