From God’s perspective, however, 2020 was a year of great success. Every challenge and hardship that comes our way – from the economy to health issues to relationship concerns – has as its purpose to draw us closer to him, to get us to look to him for help and comfort and strength.
People are learning once again that the answers to the really big questions in life and death and beyond are not to be found on this earth but in God’s Word and in God’s gracious heart. God’s will has been carried out all throughout the past year. The Gospel has been proclaimed, the sacraments offered, and hearts changed and, I’d like to add – no matter what the pundits say, Christmas was a huge success! Success not measured in sales but in souls saved by the sending of God’s Son in human flesh to be the Savior of all.
May I suggest that we take back the initiative of agenda-setting, and hand it over to God? Rather than be taken in by the doom and gloom of a self-centered, self-pitying world, and wracked with anxiety and worry over things we can’t control, let’s view life from God’s perspective, through God’s eyes. He is the One who is in control of all things. His is a grace-driven agenda.
The question is, are we on board? Christians, we can do things one of two ways. God’s way or our way. Psalm 1 puts the first item on our 2021 agenda in simple terms: God’s instruction or self-instruction. Will you plant yourself firmly in the Word this New Year or will you place more trust in the word of others: the Federal Reserve, Congress, President, or yourself?
Each of us needs to acknowledge our failings in this area. We do not always take God’s Word as seriously as we should. Even when we do attend worship or Bible study or spend time in study on our own, we easily get distracted. And Satan smiles…because our roots are not digging more deeply into the Word, our trust in the Lord is decreasing rather than increasing, and the words of others, of self, of Satan, enter our hearts and minds and do their damage.
Psalm 1 lays it out for us, plain and simple. There are two ways to do things: we can either dig into the Word or jump into the words/plans/schemes of others. The contrast is clear: it’s not that both ways are OK and one just happens to be a little better. One is the way of the blessed and the other is the way of the wicked! The word “blessed” literally means, “Happy.”
A number of years ago, US News and World Report magazine offered “50 ways to improve your life in the New Year.” Suggestions included everything from renovating your local park to unplugging the television and learning to print better photos. Also suggested: starting your own blog and upgrading your vacuum cleaner. The number one way to improve your life was to “Get happy,” whatever that means.
Well, here it is. Here’s what that means in spiritual terms to be happy, to be blessed, rather than to be “unhappy” and “unblessed.” Be in the Word in this New Year. Heed the guidance of Psalm 1…
How blessed is the man
who does not walk in the advice of the wicked,
who does not stand on the path with sinners,
and who does not sit in a meeting with mockers.
But his delight is in the teaching of the Lord,
and on his teaching he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted beside streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season,
and its leaves do not wither.
Everything he does prospers.
Not so the wicked!
No, they are like the chaff which the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
Yes, the Lord approves of the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
A Blessed New Year to you and yours!
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand