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New Year Priorities

Duke Jeyaraj’s practical study of the word ‘annual’ found in the Bible

An annual master health checkup is recommended by many. What the things that God’s Word says we must do year after year?

The word yearly or annually occurs quite a few times in the Bible. Some of these Bible references give us indications about things that the Lord wants us to do on a yearly basis. These would give us a clue as to what kind of New Year resolutions we should be taking. These Bible passages talk about the priorities we must have as believers year after year.

THE YEAR OF GOD-WORSHIP

This New Year we must resolve to worship God more. Judges 21:19 which tells us that there was an annual festival of the Lord in Shiloh, gives me the specific inspiration for this New Year resolution. It was in that festival that a dance was a noted feature (Judges 21:21). The people of Israel could not sit in one place when they thought of the good things the Lord had done for them. They, especially the women, had to get up and dance in the Lord’s presence! In this year, we must resolve to be people who worship God!

A devotional reading from Our Daily Bread reading made this fabulous suggestion which will help us practically execute this New Year resolution: During daily family prayer each family member could talk about the blessings God gave them on that day. This could be jotted down in a small sheet of paper. On a typical day, a family may have four or five points for praising God, if each family member spoke up. Each such point should make into a fresh chit of paper. These chits should be rolled and tossed in a ‘thanks giving bowl’. An empty fish tank bowl can be used. This should be done daily through the year. And when 31 December comes you can fish out these chits from the bowl and read them out in mega family thanksgiving prayer once again, praising God for the wonderful way, He graciously took care of us in that particular year! If Eric Yuan, the founder of Zoom was a believer, and if he wrote out these kinds of thanksgiving chits, this would been an entry on the April 30, 2020: ‘God enabled the company I founded, Zoom, to jump 10 million daily meeting participants in December 2019, to 300 million’ (Time, December 21-28, 2020, p.72).

THE YEAR OF FAMILY-WOWING

The New Year should be a year in which you resolve to be a more responsible family person. The Lord has graciously added the New Year into our life so that we can take good care of our families. When I read this portion of Scripture, this New Year Resolution inspiration came to me: ‘Now Samuel was ministering before the LORD—a boy wearing a linen ephod.  Each year his mother would make him a little robe and bring it to him when she went with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice.  And Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “May the LORD give you children by this woman in place of the one she dedicated to the LORD.” Then they would go home’ (I Sam. 2:18-20). We know that Samuel’s mom, Hannah, was barren for many years. And God did a miracle and gave her a son. After Samuel, Hannah’s son, was weaned, he was left in the house of the Lord. He assisted the priest Eli in God’s house. Every year, Samuel’s mom made a little robe, travelled to where he was and gave it to him. Wow! This act of Hannah inspires each one of us who are part of a family to unselfishly do loving acts that will put a smile on the faces of other family members. As husbands, we must resolve this New Year to do something special for our wives! As wives, we need to resolve this New Year to do something special for our husbands! As children, we need to resolve this New Year to do something special for our parents! As siblings we need to resolve to do something special for your other siblings! Taking good care of our families must be part and parcel of our annual New Year resolution list! Why not place a carefully planned and cheerfully executed family holiday in the list of ‘to do’ things this year? We can learn from Virat Kohli in this regard. He decided to take paternity leave early in 2020 should the time of his wife Anushka’s delivery come even during an important Cricket tour!

THE YEAR OF SIN-BEATING

What are pointers in God’s Word when it comes to New Year resolutions? The New year should be a year of Satan-beating! The God-given New Year should be a year when we win over Satan!

I get the inspiration to form this resolution from the book of Esther. Here we read the following: “Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to all the Jews in all the provinces of King Xerxes, both near and far, to establish among them an annual celebration on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the days on which the Jews gained rest from their enemies and the month in which their sorrow turned to joy and their mourning into a holiday” (Esther 9:20-22).  There was an enemy of the Jews. His name was Haman. Haman tried to harm the Jews, because of his negative experience with one Jew – Mordecai. But the enemy of the Jews, Haman hung in the nearly 23-meter-high gallows he prepared for Mordecai (Esther 7:9). God turned the tables on the behalf of the Jews, the apples of his eyes (Duet. 32:10; Zech. 2:8). This event eventually led to the passing of this decree where “letters the king (of Persia) permitted the Jews in each and every city the right to assemble and defend themselves, to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people or province hostile to them, including women and children, and to plunder their possessions” (Esther 8:11). “Each and every year” this celebration of God-orchestrated miracle victory over their enemies was done among the Jews (Esther 9:24-27).

Our primary enemy is Satan. We sometimes think a certain individual is our enemy. We do not think of Satan who is perhaps behind that individual, instigating that individual to act against us and discourage us (see Math. 16:23). Satan often uses human instruments to work against us. Our main agenda in the New Year that God has graciously added to our lives, should be to win over Satan. Satan’s main agenda is this: to make us sin! So, our New Year resolutions should involve a plan and program to have victory over sin! In the New Year we must, enabled by the Spirit of God, seek to win over the “sin that so easily entangles” – the sin that we often feel like repeating, be it porn-watching or outbursts of anger or whatever (Heb. 12:1). Our New Year may not be pain-free, but it can be porn-free! Our New year may not be agony-free, but it can be anger-free (I am talking about sinful anger here). So, in the New Year, we need to win over sin. This can be done when we have an ongoing cooperation with the Spirit of God who enables us to put to death the misdeeds of the body (Romans 8:13).

What should be our priorities in the New Year? The book of Leviticus gives us another clue. If a well-off foreigner who lived in Israel hired a slave from Israel, the people of Israel needed to pay money to the foreigner to have him released, even if the year of Jubilee when all slaves would be eligible for a free release was still far away. Why? God’s children cannot be slaves year after year. This I understand from my reading of Leviticus 25:47-53.

We must get involved in the work of releasing people from bondage to sin through our giving of our time, talents, treasures and truth. We must make this task a priority in the New Year that God has graciously added to our lives.

What I have talked about in this essay should be our priorities, year after year! Do a review at the end of the day/week/month/year as to how much time you have given to the activities that God’s Word is saying that we must make as our priority “year after year”.

(This article by Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj was originally published in the Aim Magazine published by Evangelical Fellowship of India in its January 2021 edition. Duke is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org.)