18 for '18
Every December 31st seems to bring the same flurry of opinion pieces. One camp celebrates the accomplishments of a year gone by and welcomes another adventure; another rejoices at the conclusion of a terrible season and stumbles bloody into the new year. There is endless commentary on how to make resolutions, how to keep resolutions, and why resolutions don’t matter at all. Articles praise the arrival of a fresh beginning and hail the time to make a change; other articles retort that January 1st is a Monday and, if you really want to alter something, you don’t need a new month to do it.
It is important to acknowledge that neither of these points of view is “wrong.” To rejoice is just as warranted as to grieve in its season, and neither should discount the other. The key is understanding that there are indeed different points of view, because regardless of how you observe the New Year, you do observe it. Whether with joy or indifference, relief or expectation, it is impossible and, I dare say, unwise to ignore the significance of one year giving way to another. The camp you currently identify with probably hinges largely on your recent experiences. Was the last year triumphant or wrought with defeat? I find myself somewhere in the middle.
In 2017 I celebrated the first anniversary with my wife, started a journey into a calling for full time ministry, and saw “Hamilton” live on stage. (Any other theatre fans out there?) But I also broke my back, grieved at too many funerals, and, even as I write this, sit isolated on the couch with the flu instead of enjoying my one vacation of the year with my family.
I could wax poetic on the cyclical nature of life, or offer my own opinion piece and hope it resonates among all the others, but, honestly, I don’t think that’s what any of us need. Instead of a formula or fix or musing about the future and the past, I want to offer you a promise. Eighteen promises, in fact. Eighteen promises from God’s word that you can claim on January 1st, July 11th, December 24th, and every day in between. These are promises for all people in all places at all times who would call on the name of the Lord. No matter what kind of 2017 you had, these are for you in 2018 and forever.
1. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. (Psalm 86:5)
2. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8:28)
3. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)
4. The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still. (Ex. 14:14)
5. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (Is. 40:29)
6. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed. (Is. 54:10)
7. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
8. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
10. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)
11. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24)
12. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
13. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19)
14. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps. 37:4)
15. The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Ps. 9:9)
16. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)
17. So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Luke 11:9)
18. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matt. 6:33)
Authors note: There are eighteen promises listed here because it seemed appropriate to match the new year, but the Bible is FULL of promises like these. If you would like to explore the whole Bible, you can find an excellent reading plan by Robert Murray M’Cheyne here. My wife and I have started doing this plan together and quite enjoy it.