We stand at the brink of a new year. The cliche-police would rise up as one if we said that while we do not know what it holds, we know who holds it. Yet the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in the parable of Luke 13:6-8 remind us of the responsibilities and potentials which are contained in the year ahead. In the imagery of the parable, it is a year for gospel work. It is a year for renewed prayer and intense labor to beget fruit. The potential for souls for Christ is real. What a thrill to look back at its close and count the souls reached and saved, the number of believers restored, and the blessing known by our assemblies!
But it is a year made up of months, days, and hours.
When God redeemed Israel (Exodus) He told them that “this month shall be unto you a beginning of months” (Ex 12:2, 3). As we turn the calendar and face a new January 1, we can remind ourselves of a fresh beginning. For some the past year may have been marked by failure and disappointment in self. “This month” is a fresh beginning with God and for God. For others, the past year may have been marked by spiritual advancement. For you as well, this is another fresh beginning. God does not intend us to live in the grip of the past. Recovery and restoration are possible at any moment in time if we come in God’s way.
When God told Israel through Haggai, “From this day, I will bless you” (Hag 2:19), He was promising to respond to a people who had put His interests first. Years had been marked by discouragement, neglect of divine things, and the disciplining hand of God (Haggai 1). When the people were stirred up, they rose to the moral challenge of Haggai, going up to the mountain and bringing wood to build the house of the Lord. God’s interest became paramount.
Assembly testimony is what brings pleasure to the heart of the One who walks in the midst of the lampstands (Rev 3:9). Are we willing to begin from this day forward to put His interests and the assembly first? In the rush of life with all its demands and pressures, many of us have “fit” the assembly into our schedules. Can we rise to the challenge as Israel did under the searching preaching of Haggai?
When the Lord Jesus committed His mother to the care of John, we read that, “from that hour that disciple took her unto his own.” Ready and willing surrender of all we are and have is the only response we can have to His will and Word. It is God’s way to always deal in the “now.”
This year, this month, this day, and this hour – may we rise to the challenge of each.