New Year, Same God, Same Commitments
As we enter a new year, there is always anticipation. What will 2023 hold? For some of us there may be new life, with the birth of children or grandchildren. Others might find new love and the desire for a spouse that has gone unmet. Still more, could get a new job or promotion, build new friendships, buy a new house, or start a new chapter in life, with high school or college graduation. 2023 holds exciting prospects. However, with the turning of the calendar, there can also come anxiety. Will I lose a loved one? Will my health deteriorate? Will my bills increase? Will my job continue? Will I make it through another year? Because we live in a fallen world, the uncertain nature of the future can distress us.
How can we move forward into the next 12 months without being paralyzed by fear? We need to remember God does not change. The psalmist says, “But you are the same, and your years have no end” (Ps. 102:27). James communicates, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). Even the unrighteous Balaam knew, (Num. 23:19) “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”
As we move into 2023, such truth regarding God’s immutability should give us confidence in him, and, therefore, especially in his Word. Due to the LORD’s unalterable nature, “the word of our God will stand forever” (Is. 40:8). What he says he will do, he will do. And we must understand, he does not promise 2023 will be ‘cupcakes and roses,’ but, as Isaac Watts writes, he does pledge to be “Our God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.” Given his abiding character, the Ancient of Days will continue to show faithfulness to us (Jer. 31:3), his steadfast love will never cease (1 Chron. 16:34), his mercies will be new to us each morning (Lam. 3:22), and he will not abandon us (Ps. 94:14). It is comforting to know “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
How should we respond to God’s unchangeableness? Year after year, we keep the same commitments outlined in Scripture. No matter what comes our way in 2023, we trust in the LORD with all our hearts (Prov. 3:5). We center ourselves on Christ and gratefully imitate Christ (2 Cor. 5:14-15). We fill our days with prayer (1 Thess. 5:17). We order our lives around the means of grace in corporate worship (Acts 2:42), family devotion (Deut. 6:7-9), and personal piety (Ps. 119:11). We seek to be in fellowship with other Christians (Heb. 3:13), and we pursue the lost with Gospel hope (1 Pet. 3:15). These are to be our undertakings every year. These are the same commitments CPC will seek in 2023.
Every Sunday we have morning worship, and every other week, there’s an evening service. These times of public worship are pillars that root this congregation in the primary means of grace (Word, sacrament, and prayer), which God has promised to bless. Not everyone can be a part of everything, but these worship services are central. Without commitment to them, CPC and our lives personally, are at best weak, and at worst fall apart.
In addition, each month there are prayer meetings, men’s groups, ladies’ studies, a Calvin’s Institutes discussion time, small groups, and there’s opportunities to invite lost friends and family members to game nights. There are formal and informal discipleship and evangelistic opportunities. And as we move into the new year, there is much more we hope to do with, for example, children and youth ministries and outreach into our local community. Pray for these things, regularly, and be involved where you can. Regardless, pray that we would be faithful in the ‘small things,’ the daily and Lord’s Day duties to which God has called us. And cry out to the LORD regarding the ‘big things,’ the work that is beyond us—converting lost loved ones and neighbors, overcoming sinful habits, and growing individually and as a church downward, outward, inward, and upward. We may be going into a new year, but we have the same God, and the same commitments. Praise be to the LORD!