Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Another New Year

The Pastor’s Perspective
“Another New Year”
First Published: January 8, 2008

In the beginning of a new year, we often devote ourselves afresh to important principles and goals for our lives and families. We also look back, reflecting on and reassessing the events of the year past: happy and sad, triumphant and tragic, and asking ourselves “where is our treasure?” C.H. Spurgeon has some wise words for us along this line. He is meditating on the words of Song of Solomon 1:4 (“We will exult and rejoice in you”), and applying them to Christ. He says:

"We will be glad and rejoice in thee. We will not open the gates of the year to the dolorous notes of the sackbut, but to the sweet strains of the harp of joy, and the high sounding cymbals of gladness. “O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise unto the rock of our salvation.” We, the called and faithful and chosen, we will drive away our griefs, and set up our banners of confidence in the name of God. Let others lament over their troubles, we who have the sweetening tree to cast into Marah’s bitter pool, with joy will magnify the Lord. Eternal Spirit, our effectual Comforter, we who are the temples in which thou dwellest, will never cease from adoring and blessing the name of Jesus. We will, we are resolved about it, Jesus must have the crown of our heart’s delight; we will not dishonour our Bridegroom by mourning in his presence. We are ordained to be the minstrels of the skies, let us rehearse our everlasting anthem before we sing it in the halls of the New Jerusalem. We will be glad and rejoice: two words with one sense, double joy, blessedness upon blessedness. Need there be any limit to our rejoicing in the Lord even now? Do not men of grace find their Lord to be camphire and spikenard, calamus and cinnamon even now, and what better fragrance have they in heaven itself? We will be glad and rejoice in Thee. That last word is the meat in the dish, the kernel of the nut, the soul of the text. What heavens are laid up in Jesus! What rivers of infinite bliss have their source, aye, and every drop of their fulness in him! Since, O sweet Lord Jesus, thou art the present portion of thy people, favour us this year with such a sense of thy preciousness, that from its first to its last day we may be glad and rejoice in thee. Let January open with joy in the Lord, and December close with gladness in Jesus."

There will be many within our congregation for whom 2007 was filled with inexpressible grief. These may have been private griefs known to few (or none), but which have broken the heart, or public griefs, in which we found support in the midst of our losses and crosses from friends and family. Surely, these folk must be wondering what the future holds for them.

Others in our church family may recount the victories and blessings of 2007 among the sweetest in life: answered prayers for which we had never dreamt how wonderful God’s answer would be, the gift of children, or marriage, or meaningful vocation, or financial prosperity, or family love and tranquility. And those blessed, too, will be wondering: what next in God’s plan?

For most, however, 2007 was somewhere in between: filled with favors and difficulties, but neither the best nor the worst of times. Whatever our individual circumstances may be, all of us do well to reconsider our Spiritual priorities in the dawn of this new year. And while we do so, we also do well to reevaluate our dependence on God’s grace.

Many years ago Robert Hawker said: “I am every day more and more convinced that the lack of living wholly upon Christ is the sole cause why so many of God’s children go lean from day to day.” In your prosperity or poverty are you going lean? Are you finding joy in the midst of hardship, because of the sense of Christ’s presence? Are you unimpressed with the best of the world’s treasures because your treasure is hid away in Christ? You see, one key to joy and contentment is complete dependence on Christ.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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