In two days, we’ll officially ring in the year 2024.
Does that scare you?
For some, the last 12 months have been nothing but pain and heartache.
For others, it’s been a boon. The best twelve months of their life, they would argue.
I would say that most of us fall somewhere in between. 2023 was great at times, and surprisingly awful in other ways. As Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 3:1, there is “a time for everything.”
Perhaps the best part of the New Year is the opportunity to start fresh. Many people will make New Year’s resolutions, such as losing weight, spending less time at work, or reading more.
Even if those resolutions are broken, at leas there was the intention to start off strong. That’s what New Year’s resolutions are all about, though — hope.
A “Nehemiah Moment” For the Exiles
The people that returned from captivity in Babylon must’ve felt a similar feeling of hope and optimism when they returned back to Israel.
After the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., the nation went into captivity for nearly 70 years. A remnant returned by decree of Cyrus, but much of the city was still in disrepair by the time Nehemiah arrived on the scene nearly 80 years after that.
As he surveyed the landscape, going through the entire wall and building system, he returned back with a simple proclamation: “Let us arise and build.”
According to the rest of the story, the people were able to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in only 52 days because “they had a mind to work.”
This is Your Nehemiah Moment
The new year presents an opportunity for you that is exactly like what the Israelites had. It’s a time to take stock of what’s already been done, what your current assets are, and what your goals are for the future.
It’s also a great time for you to have “a mind to work” — to position your mind for future spiritual success by being laser-focused on the task at hand.
Here are a few areas to think about.
Whatever church you attend, ask yourself a few questions:
Is this a place that values the Bible and it’s authority, or am I listening mainly to the advice and opinions of man?
Is this a place where I am challenged spiritually? A place where I can increase my understanding and am held accountable for growth?
Is this a place where I can serve others in the image of Christ?
If you find the answers to those questions aren’t to your liking, then you need to take action now. If not, you’ll be at this exact same spot this time next year —- or worse.
It’s no secret that the last few years haven’t really been a picnic for anyone. If we’re not facing a global pandemic, we’re dealing with political division, a tanking economy, and an increasing global conflict.
So yeah, not really fun times for many people these days.
Instead of retreating into a hole and waiting for the world to get better though, seize the opportunity to help your family spiritually.
Maybe institute a daily Bible reading as a family, or a group devotional, or make an effort to pray more together.
Or maybe your goal could simply be to attend services more often. That’s one of the best habits you could possibly get into and will pay off huge in the future. Make it a priority now so your kids don’t have to struggle to make it a priority later.
In Philippians 2:12, Paul tells the church at Philippi to “work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling.”
That doesn’t mean to make up their own path to Heaven — a sort of “choose your own adventure” type of salvation.
What it does mean is to take stock of your spiritual condition, right now. Think about where you are, what you need to work on, where you need to strengthen, where you feel like your strengths are.
Then, with an understanding that God is watching and will also help, move closer to Him.
That means that if you haven’t been living the life you need to, today’s the day. If you haven’t forgiven others, today’s the day. If you haven’t beep baptized, today’s the day.
Don’t let another year go by without thinking deeply about your soul and your relationship with God. Start today.
This is Your Nehemiah Moment
Use the New Year as a time to make great physical resolutions. Get healthier, travel more, tidy up your finances — whatever you want to do.
But use it also as a time to take stock of your spiritual life. Evaluate honestly your condition before God, and make the changes you need to make.
We would love to help any way we can.