I remember the first time, as a young boy, that I stayed up until midnight on New Year’s Eve. In all honesty, I was expecting something mystical to happen. But the hour came and went and one day became another.
We make much ado over the passage of time. We mark life’s milestones by celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and New Years.
Today, we stand at the threshold of a New Year…2024. We stand with hope in our hearts, because the days of a New Year are like clean sheets of paper on which nothing has yet been written.
2023 is now a book whose pages are full. Some of the pages are filled with joy, some with sorrow, some with fulfillment, some with discouragement, some with success, and some with failure. But all 365 pages of 2023 have been filled and we cannot change what has been written.
Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions. We’re going to lose weight, exercise more, watch less television, read more books, right priorities, spend more time with the family, finish that project, and maybe, for some, draw closer to God.
In his devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers wrote the following on the first day of a New Year, “The Apostle Paul wrote, ‘…my earnest expectation and hope, that I shall not be put to shame in anything…’ In other words, he says, ‘My determination is to be my utmost for His highest.’ To get there is a question of will, not of debate or of reasoning, but a surrender of will. Keep yourself before God for this thing…My Utmost for His Highest. Determine to be absolutely and entirely for Him and Him alone.”
My dear fellow believer in Christ, on this first day, of this New Year, what part of you is not yet, “Absolutely and entirely for Him?” Are there places in your life where you have erected “Keep Out” signs, or “Not Yet” signs, as far as surrender to God in that area goes. An attitude, a prejudice, a habit, a reconciliation, an idol?
Those, my friends, never change by wishful thinking. They must be deliberately crucified by an act of your own will.
Revelation 19:7 says, “For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.” As Christians, our ongoing sanctification is a process in which we have a part to play (His bride has made herself ready). And, if we will take the first steps of obedience, regarding a fuller surrender to Him, God promises the empowering presence of His Holy Spirit to take us to the finish line.
Remember this, the battles of the spiritual walk are not won when we find ourselves up to our chins in the waters of temptation, they are won in the secret place before God.
Overcoming is a matter of our will covenanting with God’s will. The Apostle Paul’s covenant with God was that Christ would be exalted in his body, whether that be by living or dying, his utmost for God’s highest.
As you press on into the New Year, I pray that it will be with a renewed determination to draw closer to your Savior. “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).