Happy New Year!

A prayer for everyone launching out into unknown waters of 2013, from The Valley of Vision:

O Lord,

Length of days does not profit me except the days are passed
in thy presence, in thy service, to thy glory.
Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains,
sanctifies, aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from thee,
but may rely on thy Spirit
to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire
to show forth thy praise,
testify thy love,
advance thy kingdom.

I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with thee, O Father, as my harbour,
thee, O Son, at my helm,
thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.

Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to thy calls,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.

Give me thy grace to sanctify me,
thy comforts to cheer,
thy wisdom to teach,
thy right hand to guide,
thy counsel to instruct,
thy law to judge,
thy presence to stabilize.

May thy fear be my awe,
thy triumphs my joy.

On New Year’s Resolutions

Tis the season for talk of resolutions, and before you pooh-pooh the idea of resolutions, or before you start listing out your resolutions for 2013 in a personal journal, consider a few words from the Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:11–12:

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

From this text, here are a few bulleted points to meditatively ponder:

  • By his power (δύναμις) God is eager to fulfill (πληρόω) the totality (πᾶς) of our faith-filled resolutions (εὐδοκία). Which means …
  • God cares about our resolutions, all of them — and he sets no limit to their number.
  • Our resolutions are legit only because God, by his power, is resolute on our eternal good in all things (Romans 8:28).
  • True godly resolutions focus outward: on God, on Christ, on divine glory, and on the good of others (2 Thessalonians 1:3–4, 11–12).
  • Shortsighted resolutions, resolutions with me as their end, are powerless and destined to fail.
  • True resolutions should fit within the context of our eschatological hope (2 Thessalonians 1:5–10).
  • True resolutions should fit within the reality of our union with Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:12).
  • True godly resolutions — “works of faith” — focus on God’s enabling power, thus they seek for what only God can provide.

And of course if you’d like help starting your list of resolutions, I find this one to be very helpful: “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2, NIV).

As an aside, I appreciate what John Piper wrote about resolutions in his 2009 article:

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Well, the examined life is not worth living either if the examination produces no resolutions. What examination and experience teach us is that the unplanned life settles into fruitless routine. The drifting life — the coasting, que-sera-sera, unreflective life — tends to be a wasted life. The opposite of this is self-examination — life-examination, routine-examination, schedule-examination, heart-examination — followed by “resolves for good.”