December 28

Preparing for 2019

“Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.” (Proverbs 24: 27)

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Every year, between Christmas and New Year’s, I pray to God for particular guidance in the new year. Then I keep a journal with the passage or verse at the top, to remind myself of my focus for walking with the Lord during the year. My focus verse for 2018 is 2 Corinthians 13:5; I was helped by it to remember whose I am, to pay particular attention to my identity in Christ. When I saw the verse today (for the first time in about a month), I realized how many ways I felt tested this year, to know where I place my trust and hope. And in Paul’s words, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

We mark December 31st and January 1st as arbitrary milestones in our lives, but they are only dates on a calendar—a convenient way to keep our schedules straight and plans coordinated. Our sanctification is continuous, rather than some goal or task we might accomplish, like a resolution for the new year. God’s work in us, with our participation, hopefully builds us up, one step at a time. While we may want to start fresh every January, we know that we can only start from where we left off on December 31st. Our slates are cleaned by our confessional life, not by our accomplishments, and even those, in one sense, are preparation for some future work. And it is in that sense that we are always building on what Christ has started in us, as He continues his work to conform us to His character. Proverbs 24:27 emphasizes the need to take care of necessities by preparing fields for food crops, before building a house. The progression of the work is to “prepare” and “get everything ready,” and only then “build.”

How will you prepare for what the Lord is going to do in you, for you, through you, and in your life in 2019? What has he done in 2018 to help you be ready for the new year? Will you take some time to examine yourself and test yourself, to see if you rely on your identity in Christ, or on something else or someone else, which may lead you astray in 2019?

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