SCOTTY SMITH|5:51 AM CT
Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:14-15
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of a new year. Tons of confetti still cover the streets of Manhattan from last night’s party, gratitude fills my heart with the breaking of this day.
I’m thankful to begin this year with a little better understanding of the gospel than I had last year and the year before and the year before. I’m already praying that I’ll be able to say the same thing this time next year, and ten years from now; for the gospel isn’t merely good news for people getting ready to die—it’s good news for people who are now ready to live.
In the gospel you lavish us with your love, liberate us by your grace, and launch us into your transforming story of redemption. What more could we possibly want or hope for, in life or in death?
Because the gospel is true, I don’t respond to Joshua’s bold charge with a list of New Year’s resolutions—promises of what I’m going to do for you. Rather, I begin this year resolving to abandon myself to everything Jesus has done for us. Jesus is the promise keeper, not us. He’s the one who has promised to make all things new, including us, including me. Hallelujah!
Father, that’s why serving you is the greatest privilege conceivable and the purest delight imaginable. For Jesus is our Joshua—the one who has saved us, is saving us, and one Day will completely save us. Without any hesitation or fear of sounding cliché, I gladly affirm: Jesus saves! What other Savior died for us that we might find life in him? What other god bears scars that we might bear his beauty? What other god sacrificially serves us that we might gratefully serve him?
Because of the gospel of your grace, throwing away my idols feels less like a painful sacrifice and more like a liberating dance; for all my “empty nothings” have ever given me is momentary pleasure and lasting regrets. Remind me of this all year long when I’m tempted to think otherwise.
Father, may this be a year of considering our lives worth nothing to us, if only we may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given us—the task of testifying (by word and deed) to the gospel of your grace (Acts 20:24). So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ loving name, with great anticipation and much thanksgiving.
I hope you will feel lavished by God's love, liberated by His grace, and transformed by the story of redemption in this new year.