Have you noticed that no matter how resolved we can be with our plans for the new year the unexpected can happen? So it may be helpful to ask yourself the following questions as your answers will be an indicator of how your year will go.
· Will you base your decisions on fear or seek and trust God in faith?
“The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverb 29:25, 2 Tim. 1:7).
· Will you walk in weakness (your own strength) or God’s Almighty power?
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).
· Will you look to your own limited and fallible thoughts or God’s infinite and righteous wisdom?
“The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile” (Ps. 94:11). “Don’t be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones” (Prov. 3:7-8).
· Will you live according to the world’s Godless ways or God’s grace and Word of truth?
“…the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:16-17).
Have you observed that no matter how hard we human beings try, we can’t control the weather, eradicate sickness or disease, or fix the problems of the world? We’re even incapable of bettering our own selves enough to stand before a righteous God. True wisdom acknowledges that we are in an evil age (Eph. 5:16) with corruption in our nature and condemnation as our rightful end. Just like a computer drive that’s become infected with a virus, humankind’s original ‘drive’ has been corrupted with the SIN virus. All born into the world default to a self-drive setting that programs them to run with commands of ‘be your own god’ and ‘direct your own life’ (Gen. 3, Rom. 3:5, 23, 5:12, 14). No amount of man-made tech support will help to eradicate it (Rom. 7:7-25). If anyone could fulfill all the requirements spelled out in God’s laws and commandments they’d have all the reason to trust and glory in themselves—but that’s not the case (Ex. 20:1-17).
God established the law to be a tutor to bring us to Christ (Gal. 3:24-25). By the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20). The apostle Paul said that he would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. He wouldn’t have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” Yet still he wanted to covet.
The Creator already had a brand new program in mind providing access through Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:24, Col. 3:10, John 14:6). There’s no cost involved—just a willingness to receive it. (Rom. 3:23-26, Eph. 2:4-9). A new identity is issued in this program with new instructions for living and God’s continual grace and support (Rom. 12:2, Eph. 4:24, Col. 3:10, 2 Cor. 12:9, 1 Tim. 1:14, 2 Tim. 2:1).
A word of caution: the old corrupt program will still be in our ‘system’ so precautions need to be taken to continually keep it in ‘disabled’ mode. Signs that one has fallen back to the old default settings will be apparent when they switch into self-drive—becoming ’selfie’ focused, self-promoting (outwardly virtue signaling), as well as self-pitying (which is also self-centered). The Trojan Horse trying to access, enable, and execute the corrupt program is no stranger to fraudulent activity as he first introduced the SIN virus to mankind (Gen. 3, John 8:44). He’ll never be able to gain access to affect the believer’s eternal security, but he can thwart the execution of the good works that God has prepared for us to walk in while on earth (Eph. 1:13-14, 2:10, Phil. 2:13, 2 Tim. 1:9, 1 Pet. 5:8). Satan knows that diverting believers to self-driven mode is effective, especially when it’s under the guise of ‘good works’ that are not from God (2 Cor. 11:3-4, 14, Matt. 23:5, 28). These may look outwardly good to the world, but bring glory to the work in the believer rather than glorifying Christ and His finished work in them. The true work of the Holy Spirit produces Christ-consciousness, not self-consciousness and humility, not selfish ambition (Phil. 2:3-4).
All labor is profitless if it doesn’t yield treasure in heaven. (Matt 6:19-20) “For what is a man profited if he will gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Matt. 16:26) The Christian passes through trials so that he/she may learn to lean harder and more completely upon the Lord. When God said, “Be still” in Psalm 46:10, He meant “Desist—cease your efforts”, adding “and know that I am God” (and you aren’t’). The beautiful picture in Matthew 11:28-30 shows us that when we look to Christ and come to Him, He provides us with rest. When we take His yoke upon us and learn from Him, there will be true rest for our souls for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. When resurrection is realized as the goal of God and the entrance into true life, then one can patiently perform God’s good works and endure with all patience, suffering, and joy.
The believer can only run in ‘safe mode’ when they continue to turn to and have faith in God’s written Word. Satan owes so much to technology as it’s the perfect vehicle to distract and divert the believer’s mind, focus, and time (Eph. 2:2, 2 Cor. 10:3-5). So many use the excuse that they have no time to read or study God’s Word, yet they spend hours listening to others on podcasts, YouTube videos, TikTok, scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, online shopping, online gambling, playing games where they reach levels and receive artificial prizes, as well as binge-watching TV shows (Matt. 13:22). What a waste of time and an empty return on investment.
Time spent reading, studying, and learning God’s Word is never in vain as it’s profitable not only in this life but in the life to come (2 Tim. 3:16, 2:15, 1 Tim. 4:8, 1 Cor. 15:58). Without the knowledge of God’s Word, one will not be able to discern God’s perfect will (1 Tim. 4:1, 1 Cor. 2:14, Phil. 1:9, Heb. 4:12, Acts 17:11). Sadly without truly knowing God’s Word many are being led astray. A helpful guideline for assimilating information that we hear from others (especially when it comes from God’s Word) is to search for ourselves to see if it lines up with what the Scriptures actually say—rightly divided, and in proper context (Acts 17:11, Rom. 15:4, 2 Tim. 2:15, Phil. 1:9-11).
God’s Word is clear that a time will come when the crooked will be made straight and every work will be brought into judgment. God has a purpose and a work that transcends all our thoughts so we need to trust and wait patiently for Him (Eccl. 3:14, 12:13-14, Ps. 37). Have faith and be encouraged that no matter the plans and devices that man has in mind, ultimately the Lord’s counsel will stand and His purposes will prevail (Prov. 19:21, Ps. 33:11).
May you be resolved to “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy…” (Colossians 1:9-11).