New Year 2013
If you love me, you will obey what I command. — John 14:15
I believe the first prayer of the new year is an important one. I think of it almost like Solomon right before he was about to rule as king. God asked him “what do you want me to do for you?” He could have asked for anything, but he wisely asked for wisdom. Solomon knew that if he had wisdom, the rest would fall right into place. So, this morning (1/1/2013) I got up a little later than usual (7:00 a.m.) because I watched the ball drop in Times Square. I went to my usual “study spot” in the house and knelt to pray the first prayer of 2013. What should I ask for?
For the past 8 years Ezra 8:21 is a non-negotiable starter for me. God’s people were about to take a long journey through some dangerous land. Ezra declared a fast so they might humble themselves and have a safe journey for all the Israelites who were returning back to their homeland along with their children and possessions. This has always been the basis of my beginning of the year fasts. I fast and pray for God to allow me to pass safely through another year along with my family and possessions. To me, it is like placing my life in a bubble that the devil cannot penetrate. I want to be like Job. If the devil wants to come after me with anything, I want to be so well protected that he has to negotiate with God to even touch me or anything that God has given me. Then, when a trial begins, I know that God has allowed it and He has only allowed it because it will ultimately increase my faith and help me love Him more.
I started my prayer off this year by asking God for wisdom and knowledge. I mean, Solomon did…sounds noble, right? Then, it was like God hushed me and said “think about this.” I thought for a while. After a few minutes of silence I thought of John 14:15: If you love me, you will obey what I command. I thought of all those years as a beginning Christian when I tried to obey His commands and failed repeatedly. Then, I remember when I began to fall in love with His Word I automatically started obeying more and more commands that I had previously struggled with. The more I loved the Word, the less I sinned. As my love for Him went up, my number of sins went down. For my math students reading this, that is a negative correlation. As love for Him increases, sin decreases. The best part is you don’t desire to sin. When God takes it away…it is GONE! However, if your love for Him begins to wane, don’t be surprised when those old sinful desires, or even new ones begin to manifest themselves.
So, after careful contemplation, I simply prayed “Lord, help me love you more this year.” Then, I understood. God certainly could have given me wisdom and knowledge, but what if I have wisdom and knowledge without love for Him? That sounds like a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, if I love Him more, won’t I want to spend more time with Him in prayer and in His Word? Of course I will. If I love Him, I will grow in knowledge and wisdom and I will be obedient to His commands.
Isn’t that just like God? I always seem to gravitate towards making Christianity about doing better, being better, learning more, following Jesus closer…but it always comes back to one simple thing. Simple, but definitely not easy.
It always comes back to love.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.
Let’s all pray that we might fall crazy in love with the living God this year.
Happy New Year