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 Samuel 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 as peace reigned throughout the land. The enemy never came into the territory of Israel again all the days of Samuel.
Did the enemy pursue you this past year as he did me? In the midst of all the raging storms against my life, God’s hand was evident to me. Did you experience the Lord’s presence with you? I felt His canopy of caring covering me. Were you aware of it over you? Did He provide shelter and sustenance, even if in quantities less than desired? Yes, He did for me.
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.
May we not halt or destroy God’s plans for the future, for, out of the old, a newness arises through His regenerating grace, creating all things afresh, 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)
Will there be room in the New Year for the Lord to do a new thing in our lives, or will we be filled with last year’s leftovers? Therefore, let us not carry into the New Year the baggage of regrets, unforgiveness, resentments, failures, ungrateful hearts, or disappointments in others or in ourselves, all of which weigh down our usefulness.
As He stands in the present, He is poised, firmly fixed between the years, His presence casting a shadow over the past year, 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 the light of His guidance beams across the New Year, illuminating the passage into the land of the unknown, His road will take you through each dry wilderness to streams of fresh, flowing water.
Will you stand bravely at its threshold, ready, willing, and obedient to follow the Lord, no matter where He may lead? Will your attitude be to enter His portal with thanksgiving, remembering His goodness over the past year, and to ask His blessings over the coming year?
Instead of resolutions, set goals and ask yourself these questions:
* How many lacking souls can I replenish?
* How many heavy-ladened spirits can I encourage?
* How many grieving hearts can I console this year?
* How many lost ones can I introduce to salvation?
To commemorate your year of the Lord’s goodness and your victory and recovery of all the territory the enemy has tried to take from you, set up an Ebenezer stone…the Lord, “The Stone of Israel,” the Rock of your salvation.
May the Lord’s shadow of forgiveness conceal the disappointments and troubles of your year now past, 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.
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 His servants Goodness and Mercy pursue you throughout the days to come.
Have a very happy New Year!