This is the last e-newsletter you’ll get from me in 2023. Next week, like many of you, I’ll be enjoying some family time.
Of course this weekend, our focus will be on the birth of Jesus as we gather for worship Sunday morning and Sunday evening.
But with 2024 now just 11 days away, I want to take this opportunity to turn your attention to the new year and any resolutions you might be considering.
For a decade now, I’ve had the same three resolutions at the top of my list year in and year out. I’ll tell you what they are before I’m done here.
But first, I want to pass along some thoughts from Scotty Smith about resolution making. Scotty was for many years the lead pastor at Christ Community Church in Franklin TN. He’s written a number of books, including a book called Everyday Prayers, where he reflects, as a prayer, on a different subject for each day of the year.
I think his prayer for January 1 is worth your time. It comes under the heading A Prayer about the New Year and the Gospel. And he begins with this passage from Joshua 24:
Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Josh. 24:14–15)
Gracious Father, as I sit here sipping fresh coffee and watching flames dance in the fireplace, it’s early into the first day of a new year. Tons of confetti cover the streets of Manhattan, and gratitude fills my heart.
I’m thankful I’m beginning this year with a little better understanding of the gospel than I had last year and the previous years. I’m already praying that I’ll be able to say the same thing this time next year. For the gospel is not just good news for people getting ready to die—it’s good news for people who are now ready to live.
In the gospel you lavish us with your love, liberate us by your grace, and launch us into your transforming story of redemption. What more could we possibly want or hope for, in life or in death?
Because the gospel is true, I don’t respond to Joshua’s bold charge with a list of New Year’s resolutions—promises of what I’m going to do for you. Rather, I begin this year resolving to abandon myself to everything Jesus has done for us. Jesus is the promise keeper, not us. He’s the one who has promised to make all things new, including me.
Father, that’s why serving you is much more than merely “desirable”; it’s the greatest privilege conceivable and the purest delight imaginable. For Jesus is our Joshua—the one who has saved us, is saving us, and one day will completely save us. Without any embarrassment or fear of cliché, I gladly affirm: Jesus saves! What other savior died for us that we might find life in him? What other god sacrificially serves us that we might gratefully serve him?
Because of the gospel, throwing away my idols feels less like a painful sacrifice and more like a liberating dance. For all my “empty nothings” have ever given me is momentary pleasure and lasting regrets. Remind me of this all year long when I’m tempted to think otherwise.
Father, may this be a year of considering our lives worth nothing to us, if only we may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given us—the task of testifying (by word and deed) to the gospel of your grace (Acts 20:24).
In Jesus’ loving name we pray, with great anticipation and much thanksgiving. Amen.
Whatever thoughts you have about new habits or new disciplines for the new year, I trust the good news of the gospel will guide your plans for the new year.
As for my three resolutions, here they are:
To daily, consciously reaffirm the Lordship of Christ over my lifeTo daily, consciously repent of my sinTo daily, consciously re-believe the gospel
No surprise there, right?
As I shared last week, I’m planning to start each day in 2024 in the Bible, using the McCheyne daily Bible reading plan and DA Carson’s accompanying devotion.
If you want to join me, you can download the book as a free PDF here. Or you can do it the way I’m doing it. I’m signing up here to receive an email each morning that will tell me what chapters to read each day, and will provide me with Carson’s devotional message for that day.
I know you’re busy thinking about the holidays, but let’s make sure we have a few things on your calendar for January.
Like the first First Tuesday of the new year on January 2!
Yes, that’s right. It’s on January 2.
We’re also planning a Saturday morning Men’s Breakfast in January. Make sure you have the date locked in.
For students, the first Game Night of 2024 is right around the corner.
And our students also have a big event coming February 2-4.
D-Now is a weekend where students will spend time away from their homes and “unplugged” from their devices. The goal of the weekend is for students to see how God has called them out of their darkness and into His marvelous light.
D-Now 2024 will include worship and teaching, times of fellowship and a service project to help your student cultivate humility and an outward focus. Students can sign up now for what will be a spiritually impactful weekend!
And for those of you who have been attending Redeemer for a while and who are interested in joining with us as members of our church, we have our New Members Get Together happening in January.
If you’ve been coming to Redeemer for a while and you’re not yet a member, you may be hearing from Pastor Matt Gurney with an invitation you to join us.
Please continue to pray for our financial needs at year end.
And if you’re interested in making a special year end gift, you can bring a check with you on Sunday and put it in the giving box. Or you can click here to make an online year end gift.
We’ll finish our study in Jude on Sunday morning and see how the last verse of the letter includes echoes of the first Christmas.
And of course, on Sunday night at 5:00, we’ll gather for candlelight, carols and tidings of comfort and joy.
Is there someone you should invite? It’s the perfect time of year to bring a friend with you to church.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!