Wow! It is hard to believe that another Christmas has come and gone and 2018 will be no more except in our memories and the historical records. We come into 2019 with hopes, plans and anticipation, but in reality we have no idea what it will hold for us, our families, our communities, our country, or the world--whether good or bad.
There are many uncertainties, anxieties, fears and apprehension about the unknown circumstances and events that this new year will bring our way. On the other hand, there are hopes that will be fulfilled, dreams that will come true, prayers that will be answered, and blessings that are awaiting us this year that will forever change our lives for the good.
It is always important that we take adequate time to look back and count our blessings one by one, thanking God for all that He has done in our lives: for those things He has given us, for those things we wanted that He did not let us have because He knew they were not His best for us, and for the many trials, temptations, experiences and failures that He was so faithful to forgive, and to carry us or lead us through.
We also need to look back on 2018 and ask the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts, minds, motives and actions and show us what we need to confess to God, ask His forgiveness for, and need His help to turn away from to make 2019 a better year. In Psalm 139: 23-24, David prayed: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
Earlier in the same prayer, David said: "O Lord, You have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely......Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens you are there; if I make my bed in the depths you are there....... For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you." (......indicates that some verses omitted. Please go back and read the entire prayer).
David made it clear in the beginning of the prayer, that God had already searched him and that there was no detail about his life that God did not already know about: God knew David before he was conceived. He knew the moment he was conceived in the secret places. He knew what every day of his life would hold for him. He knew David's thoughts before he thought them. He knew his words before he could say them. He knew where he was at any given time, and He knew when he would be born and when he would die. There was nothing about David that God did not know, and David knew it!
Why then would David pray at the end of the prayer: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."? David was absolutely sure, and rightly so, that God had already searched him and knew every detail of his life, mind, heart, body and soul. In these closing verses, David was asking God to search his life and to help him see himself as God saw him!
To paraphrase so that I can understand it, I think David was saying: 'God you created me, you see me and you know everything about my past, present and future. You know my strengths, my weaknesses, my failures and successes. You know where I am at any given moment in time. You know what circumstances, trials and temptations that lie before me in life that I do not see. You know your purpose for my life on earth and in the Kingdom. Help me to see what you see. Show me myself not in the way I see myself or as others see me, but in the way that I really am. Show me what Your will is for my life and help me to walk in it. Do not let me wander again outside your will, but lead me in the way of salvation and eternal life.'
This is a prayer that we all need to pray don't you think? We need to pray it not just as we begin a new year with all its uncertainties, but we need to pray this prayer every day. This needs to be a daily prayer if we really want to live in the center of God's will and avoid unnecessary failure, hurt, pain and misery in our lives, but also in the lives of others. We need to pray this prayer daily if we do not want to miss the many blessings He has for us as we walk with Him on a daily basis.
If we are serious as individuals, as families, as congregations, or as the Church universal about living our lives in light of eternity, we must maintain an intimate, close relationship with the Lord Jesus so that we can hear His voice, know His will, and live our lives accordingly. We must see ourselves as He sees us if we are serious about living our lives to please Him and to point others to Him. If He is indeed our Lord and our Savior--and I do not see Biblically how we can separate the two--we must live our lives in submission to His will for our lives.
Not all sin we are guilty of is something we do, say, or think: (sins of commission). Much of our sin that is so easily overlooked are things that we do not do, for words that we do not speak, for relationships that do not have, for prayers we do not pray, for gifts that we do not give, for talents that we do not use for His purposes, and for our ignorance of God's Word and our failure to do what He has commanded us to do. (sins of omission).
Sins of commission and sins of omission are equally damning. Both separate us from a holy, loving and just God. Both affect not only our life but the lives of others. Both will either positively or negatively affect the Kingdom and who is there. Both are also forgiven and washed away when we put our faith in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus the Son of God as Emmanuel (God with us). Jesus died to pay the price for all our sin, but He also has a purpose and a plan for lives that are to glorify Him, to share the love and the Good News of Jesus Christ with all the world, and to grow the Kingdom.
God knows you! Ask Him to let you know what He sees and to lead you in the way everlasting! Life is short and then the judgment! Let us not live our lives or use our gifts and resources in vain. "Therefore, we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done; whether good or bad." (2Cor5:9-10).
Make no mistake: Our salvation is by grace through faith in the completed work of Christ alone, not by our works. He will however judge our works, (our lives on this earth), and will determine whether we glorified Him or if we lived for ourselves. Faith that is without good works that God has ordained and created us to do, is not real or saving faith. Martin Luther once said: "It is as impossible to separate works from faith as it is to separate burning and shining from fire." A follower of Jesus does not work to be saved, but he works because He is saved!
Search our hearts oh God, and show us ourselves as we really are. Forgive us as we turn away from our sin and follow you. Lead us in the way that we live in the center of your will in this life on earth and for eternity in Heaven. Amen.