Now that I’ve hit thirty years of age it seems more silly than ever to create all kinds of New Year’s resolutions. After all, what would I resolve to do other than what I’ve resolved to do every other year in recent memory: spend more time reading the Bible, more time praying, more time with my family and, of course, shed a few pounds by dedicating more time to exercise. And yet there is something valuable about resolutions, I think. At the very least it is useful to reflect on the past that we might think more deliberately about the present and the future. In a biography of Roger Nicole I read some godly wisdom on the importance of musing about the past:
There is a biblical injunction about musing: Deuteronomy 8:2 – “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way…” More than fifty times in Scripture, we are challenged to remember, perhaps supremely in the Lord’s Supper: “in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:24-25). Thus our knowledge of the past must serve us in our decisions in the present. Our experience in the past is an important element in our preparation for the future. It should help us to avoid repeating the mistakes that we made previously. Memory is the bond that unifies the series of experiences and decisions that constitute our life.
If resolutions are made on the basis of memory and the basis of truly wanting to serve and honor God, I am sure that they can be valuable, even if they do not last a full twelve months.
A couple of years ago, as I reflected on the dawning of a new year, I came across Psalm 90, a prayer of Moses, the man of God. It may perhaps be a strange choice to begin a new year and some would even consider it a depressing Psalm that speaks of the brevity of life and the inevitability of death. Yet primarily it speaks of the power of God, that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the same now as He was two thousand years ago when His Son was on the earth and He is the same now as He was the day He brought forth the world by His word.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You return man to dust
and say, “Return, O children of man!”
For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.
You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.
For we are brought to an end by your anger;
by your wrath we are dismayed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
For all our days pass away under your wrath;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Who considers the power of your anger,
and your wrath according to the fear of you?
So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!
I spent a part of yesterday wondering what Bible verse would serve as an appropriate reflection to begin yet another year. And then I was treated to a wonderful sermon by my friend Julian who preached at our church yesterday. His text was Matthew 6:19-24:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
These three sayings of Jesus provided an excellent basis for meditation. Any goals I set for the new year must involve laying up treasures not here, but in heaven. They must involve serving my heavenly master and not any earthly one. And they must involve looking towards that master and heavenly treasures rather than looking towards and dreaming of earthly treasures and earthly masters. Surely such resolutions cannot go far wrong.
I wish you and your family a blessed new year. May 2007 bring you many rich blessings as you seek to honor and serve the Lord. Maranatha! Come quickly Lord Jesus!