At one time in Israel’s history, when they faced the Philistines, Samuel and Israel fasted, prayed, repented, and offered a sacrifice. God answered their plea by confusing and defeating the enemy that pursued them. To commemorate the fact that Israel was victorious and recovered all the territory the enemy had taken, Samuel set up a stone as a marker of remembrance.
When he did this, he exclaimed, “Up to this point the LORD has helped us!” (1 Sam. 7:12 NLT) Samuel, whose name meant ‘heard of God,’ knew the Lord would hear them and be on their side in the future.
The Lord’s hand remained against the Philistines and the enemy never came into the territory of Israel. Peace reigned throughout the land all the days of Samuel.
Did the enemy pursue you this past year? Did you experience the Lord’s presence with you? Were you aware of His canopy of care covering you? Did He provide shelter and sustenance, even if in quantities less than desired?
Through all the contrary times, through sickness, through loss, through poverty, through grief, through trials, through temptations…the Lord has provided up to this point.
To celebrate and remember all the Lord’s goodness to my family and me during this past year, I will set up an Ebenezer stone of remembrance. That stone is the Lord. He is “The Stone of Israel,” (Gen. 49:24 NKJV), in Hebrew, the ‘eben’ of Israel.
Will you set Him as your commemorative stone over the victories of the year that has just drawn its last breath?
He stands poised, firmly fixed between the years. His presence casts a shadow over the year now passed, concealing its troubles, sorrows, and disappointments and transforming all the old…the old attitudes, the old habits, and the old ways…into something new.
As God said through Isaiah, “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Is. 43:19 NKJV) May we not halt or destroy God’s plans for the future, for, out of the old, a newness arises through His regenerative grace, creating all things afresh.
As the light of the Lord’s guidance beams across the New Year, it illuminates the passage into the land of the unknown. His path will take us through each dry wilderness to streams of fresh, flowing water.
Therefore, on this virgin trek, let us not carry with us the baggage of regrets, unforgiveness, resentments, failures, ungrateful hearts, or disappointments in others or in ourselves, all of which weigh down our usefulness.
Will you stand bravely at the threshold of the unknown, ready, willing, and obedient to follow the Lord, no matter where He may lead? Will there be room in the New Year for the Lord to do a new thing in your life, or will it be filled with more of the same from last year?
Will you enter the New Year’s portal, remembering the Lord’s goodness and mercy over the past year and asking His blessings over the coming year? Will you make it a year of praise and worship from a grateful heart to its Maker? Will you resolve to serve God greater than the year that has faded?
Instead of making resolutions, ask yourself these questions and set goals to answer them:
* How many lacking souls can I replenish?
* How many grieving hearts can I console?
* How many lost ones can I introduce to salvation?
* How many heavy-ladened spirits can I encourage?
As “the LORD Himself watches over you,” I pray that the His hand will be upon your household “from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year,” that His comfort and blessings fill every room of your home so that the sounds of joy can be “heard far in the distance,” and that He will “preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.”
May the Lord’s shadow of forgiveness conceal the disappointments and troubles of the year behind you, while His light is cast as a beacon of guidance to His safe haven of the days yet to be explored. May His hand be against your enemy and His peace reign all your days.
May His servants Goodness and Mercy pursue you throughout the days to come.
Have a very happy New Year!