The New Year is here, and it’s a time when many people are making resolutions that they’ll fail to keep come the end of January. Some people succeed, but even then they find another goal to go after come the end of the year. But, for most of us, it’s a time to reflect on what failed and what worked in the past year. It’s a time as Christians where we can prepare ourselves for action and repent, turn away from the sins of yesterday, and move forward.
Keep in mind, this is not something we should do once a year, or at the beginning of a calendar year, but something we should do every day. Every day we have an opportunity to “rediscover” God, to see the gospel again and again revealed to us in Scripture- to see it in a way we hadn’t before. We have countless opportunities before us and in order to see them we must have our eyes opened by knowing the truth and savoring it, and obeying it. How do we do this? By, “setting your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-3). To look unto Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:1-2).
To help pave the way and encourage you to do so, I’d like to share with you some words of wisdom from Francis Schaeffer, John Piper, and John Owen to put a spark in this first day of 2018.
- Remember the world is lost without Christ, and we who are in Christ have real answers to the real problems people face. From Francis Schaeffer:
Every man is in tension until he finds a satisfactory answer to the problem of who he himself is. (The God Who Is There, 93)
Love is not an easy thing; it is not just an emotional urge, but an attempt to move over and sit in the other person’s place and see how his problems look to him. Love is a genuine concern for the individual. As Jesus Christ reminds us, we are to love that individual ‘as ourselves.’ This is the place to begin. Therefore, to be engaged in personal ‘witness’ as a duty or because our Christian circle exerts a social pressure on us, is to miss the whole point. The reason we do it is that the person before us is an image-bearer of God, and he is an individual who is unique to the world. This kind of communication is not cheap. To understand and speak to sincere but utterly confused twentieth-century people is costly. It is tiring; it will open you to temptations and pressures. Genuine love, in the last analysis, means a willingness to be entirely exposed to the person to whom we are talking. (The God Who Is There, 131)
- God is the most important reality person in the universe. Don’t ignore Him and His word. From John Piper:
Where is God in your daily newspaper or in your talk radio show or the network TV programming or Time or Newsweek or the theater or the public school classroom? God is the most important reality in the universe. But he is almost totally ignored. And if not, he is as likely belittled as reverenced. Yet he is the most crucial factor in every issue facing the nation. There would simply be no nation without God. But he is disregarded by our cultural leaders in almost all they do. Disregard for God is the greatest evil in the West today. It is as though an ant on his anthill should disbelieve in the earth.
If the church is going to reassert God’s rightful place in the soul of a man and the center of all life, we will need a sharpened focus of who He is and what He is like. One of the reasons our witness to God’s reality is minimal is that our understanding of God’s reality is minimal. In the name of quick and relevant impact we minimize the very greatness that would he his renown. Without this, we will not boldly and graciously assert his rightful place in all of life. (The Exuberant Omnipotence of God)
- Sin is pursuing you in order to kill you and your joy and God. Will you fight it? Words from John Owen:
How can we possibly believe the promises concerning Heaven, immortality, and glory, when we do not believe the promises concerning our present life? And how can we be trusted when we say we believe these promises but make no effort to experience them ourselves? It is just here that men deceive themselves. It is not that they do not want the Gospel privileges of joy, peace and assurance, but they are not prepared to repent of their evil attitudes and careless life-styles. Some have even attempted to reconcile these things and ruined their souls. But without the diligent exercise of the grace of obedience, we shall never enjoy the graces of joy, peace and assurance.
May these serve you well this coming year,