I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. However, being the contemplative that I am, I do spend time reviewing the year and asking God to give me a scripture…a vision, if you will, for the upcoming year.
Many years ago now, I sat in church a week before the new year, taking notes on the obligatory end of the year sermon. But this one was different. This one challenged me to look behind, but also to look forward. To look forward, not with vague ideas of self-improvement or lists of impossible goals, but by once again surrendering my life to the molding, shaping hands of my Savior. I seek His direction as I embark on a new year.
To guide this process, I ask myself these five questions:
#1: What do I need to celebrate?
What has God blessed me with this year? Where have I most clearly seen His hand at work in my life? Where have I seen answers to prayer?
Read: 2 Timothy 4:7; Luke 15:11-24
#2: What do I need to confess?
For what attitudes or failings–sins–do I need repentance? Is there someone from whom I need to seek forgiveness?
James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” (HCSB)
“The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
#3: What do I need to change?
Have I been resisting the urging of the Holy Spirit? Have I let my time with God dwindle? Have I been honorable and Christlike in my dealings with others? Am I running the race to “gain the prize” or am I running aimlessly?
Matthew 16:24 says, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.”
“Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
See also: Ephesians 2: 1-5
#4 What do I need to conclude?
Am I struggling to stay when God is saying it’s time to go? Am I holding on to a relationship…a season…a hurt…a job…when it’s time to move on? God, help me uncurl my fingers and release what is holding me back from moving forward in what He has called me to do.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time for war, and a time for peace.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV)
#5 What do I need to contend for?
Do I have a loved one or a neighbor who needs salvation? Has God given me a dream, a promise, a mission that I must pray into reality? Have I prayed regularly and earnestly for my community and my nation? Am I ready to step out in faith?
James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Eph. 1:15-17) NIV
Only one life, ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last. (Missionary C. T. Studd)
What will you do in 2018?