Written by Billy Dickinson
Although heaven is a place where they count not time by years, and “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet. 3:8), we have marked the passing of another year. 2012 is gone, never to be seen again, and 2013 is upon us. The old year with all its failures and accomplishments, as well as times of joy and grief, has emptied itself into the sea of eternity. Indeed, it’s time to look to the new year with faith and confidence in God.
It’s true, of course, that we don’t know what 2013 has in store for us because each year always brings a certain amount of uncertainty with it. Will 2013 bring prosperity, health, and happiness or will it bring sickness, pain, and sorrow? Only time will tell. However, in spite of all that may be uncertain about the future, it is certain that God is sitting upon His throne and caring for His people! Let us not forget that God is still in control of this old world, ruling in the affairs of men and seeing to it that His will and purposes are fulfilled (Dan. 4:17). Yes, Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings, even in the 21st century, and it is certain that we need to renew our commitment to serve Him.
For the most part, wasn’t 2012 what we made it to be? While a year always brings circumstances and events which are beyond our control, even then we have a choice as to how we react to those things. So it will be in 2013! The new year will bring to us in large measure what we choose to bring to it. Hence we need to learn how “to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalms 90:12). If we want to have a prosperous new year, we must not trivialize the meaning and purpose of life, but we must look to Christ as our helper and guide. Let’s notice some things that will accompany the new year.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR GOOD
Paul exhorts us in Eph. 5:16 to “redeem the time.” That means to make the most of every opportunity and to use our time on this earth wisely. Each year brings with it opportunities to do good or evil, to grow stronger in the Lord or weaker in faith, to add to our Bible knowledge or continue in ignorance, and to lead souls to Christ or act indifferently toward evangelism. As you look back on the old year, how would you rate yourself in those areas of your life? Are you a stronger Christian today than you were a year ago? Do you know more about God’s word? Did you lead someone to Christ last year or at least tried to be a wise soul winner (Prov. 11:30)? If you can answer those questions in the affirmative, 2012 was a prosperous year for you. However, if you had to answer in the negative, you need to resolve to do better! As Heb. 6:9 puts it, “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation . . .”
Joel 3:14 speaks of “multitudes in the valley of decision.” As with last year, decisions will be made which will have far-reaching consequences for both time and eternity. In fact, all of us will make decisions this year which will help to determine where we will spend eternity! People must decide: Will I obey the gospel or refuse salvation? Will I continue in sin or repent and change the direction of my life? Will I remain faithful to the Lord or quit walking in the light of God’s truth? Will I come out of denominationalism and simply be a Christian or will I continue to live by the creeds and dogmas of men? Will I continue in digression and false worship or will I promote unity in the church by standing upon a “thus saith the Lord?” If you made the wrong decision in regard to any of those matters, hopefully in 2013 you will have opportunities to make things right.
WHAT ABOUT THE LORD’S RETURN?
This could be the year when Jesus comes again to “judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:31). Do you doubt that could be the case? Jesus warned in Matt. 24:44, “Therefore be ye ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” If our Lord were to return before the end of 2013, would you be found ready? Certainly how we decide the crucial decisions of our lives determines if we are ready for death and the judgment. Let us remember that when one chooses to travel a certain road, he also chooses to accept the destination to which it leads. “Whither have ye made a road today?” (1 Sam. 27:10) is a great question to consider as we enter the new year!
Which road of life did you choose to travel last year and did it take you in the direction you wanted to go? While we might like to think otherwise, the only two roads available are the broad way which leads us away from God and the narrow way which leads us to God (Matt. 7:13-14). Therefore, if you continue on the path you are now on, just where are you headed? Where are you going to end up? The Bible says in Isa. 55:6, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” If that doesn’t sum up the aim and purpose of your life, you are surely headed in the wrong direction and need to make a turnabout!
Where are we headed? I can tell you where. Like it or not, we are all marching toward eternity. As Paul wrote in Rom. 13:11, “it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Yes, this is where we are headed– toward the judgment seat of Christ (2Cor. 5:10)! In view of that, it is certain that men need to obey the gospel in 2013. The gospel is still God’s means of saving the sinner (Rom. 1:16). Men need to believe in Jesus (John 3:18). Men need to repent of their sins (Acts 17:30). Men need to confess their faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10). Men need to be baptized into Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). It is still true in 2013 that when Jesus comes again, He will take vengeance on those who have not obeyed the gospel (2 Thess. 1:8). Do it today while you have the time and the opportunity.
“The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed. To lose one’s health is more. But to lose one’s soul is such a loss that no man can restore.”