Ring in 2023!6
It is time to turn the calendar again from one year to another. As I grow older, I become more and more aware of the change of the year – even if I am far less likely to stay up long enough to celebrate it at the moment! The dawn of a new year is a time for us to take stock of our lives and what the Lord has done, both in us and for us. It’s not that January 1 brings about some kind of magical transformation, but it reminds us to both look back and look ahead.
Take some time this week to look back at your life and the Providence that God has given to you. I recommend making a list (either “old school” on paper or on an electronic device) and setting forth for yourself all of the struggles, accomplishments, and changes that have come to you. Even the little things matter. Then ask yourself a question: have I been in prayer about these things during the year? Have I asked the Lord for strength in my struggles (Psalm 118:14), or have I just tried to muddle through? Have I given the Lord praise for all I have accomplished this year, knowing that every good gift is from above (James 1:17) and that my accomplishments come from God’s blessing (1 Cor. 4:7). Looking back also prepares you to face the future. The future is unknown to you, and while you can prepare for various eventualities, you are sure to face unexpected challenges, sorrows, and joys. Reminding yourself that the Lord has promised never to leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), and that He has kept that promise in the past, is the surest way to have confidence for the future.
But the new year is more than just a retrospective on life. It is also an opportunity to think about the future and make preparations for how you want your life to be better. That starts with a commitment to cling to the Lord. I write this almost every year, but it remains true: the new year serves as a spur to recommit to spending time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer. Do you have a daily Bible Reading Plan? There are many available on our ministry partner, Ligonier Ministries’, website. Find one that works for you. There are New Testament-heavy plans, Chronological reading plans, and even plans that run for two or three years! Don’t think that you must be able to accomplish a goal to start; it is the reading itself that is important. So if you know you have not been able to read the whole Bible in a year, make the effort to read it in two or three. One Bible “reading” plan that I have found helpful is a podcast from Crossway Publishers. There are several versions that you can subscribe to and download to your device. You can then listen to the Bible as you drive, exercise, or even do chores. You may not think it will be as effective as morning quiet time with a Bible, a highlighter, and coffee, but it certainly is better than nothing (which is often the alternative)!
Look for Opportunities
A final encouragement I would like to give to you is to look for opportunities in 2023. The Lord gives us opportunities to use our gifts, share the gospel, and be a blessing to others. Don’t get so busy in the everyday that you fail to recognize when someone needs an encouraging word. The Christian life is meant to be active and a blessing to others. Find opportunities to serve, ministries to get involved in, and times to get together with others. The Lord will bring such opportunities to you – you simply need to recognize them and act on them. May the Lord bless you richly in 2023.