January is named for Janus, the two-faced Roman god who could look into the past and the future. So far, however, 2024 is a new year only the one true God could have foreseen.
A Japan Airlines jet was engulfed in flames at Tokyo’s Haneda airport this morning after a possible collision with a Coast Guard aircraft. The airline reports that all 379 passengers and crew were safely evacuated. The previous day, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck Japan, collapsing buildings and leaving at least forty-eight people dead at this writing.
When the college football season began, Michigan was ranked second and Washington ninth. After yesterday’s playoff game victories, the two will play next week for the national title.
This time last year, who predicted that the US military would engage with Houthi militants again yesterday? Or that Israel would begin withdrawing several thousand troops from Gaza in a war they did not anticipate just three months ago? Who knew that WeWork, once the nation’s most valuable start-up, would go bankrupt in 2023 along with Bed Bath & Beyond, Tuesday Morning, and Party City? Or that Taylor Swift would pass Elvis Presley as the soloist with the most weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200?
I could go on, but you get the oft-quoted point: We can predict anything except the future. Nonetheless, I am making a prediction today in absolute confidence that you can build your new year upon its truth.
Powered by RedCircle
We have all of God we want
I have often said that in our secularized culture, God is a hobby. He is for Sunday, not Monday. He is what we do with our discretionary time, an elective choice we have no right to force on others. I enjoy classical music, but I would be wrong to insist that you agree with me. I trust in Jesus, read his word, pray, and seek to serve him, but I would be wrong to insist that you do the same—or so our relativistic culture insists.
However, I’ve come to believe that for many, God is not just a hobby—he is a commodity. Our consumeristic culture has consumerized our faith.
Those of us who pray, read Scripture, worship, and serve God are convinced that doing so is to our good, while those who do not, are not. Like any other commodity, we pay a transactional price to acquire what we want commensurate with the reward we expect.
When last did it cost you something truly significant to obey God?
Consequently, many Americans have all of God we want. Not all we need, but all we want. Lost people do not seek to be saved because they do not believe they are lost and resent anyone who tells them they are. Many Christians do not tell them because they don’t want to risk rejection if they do.
At the same time, Christians who are not unconditionally submitted to Christ as their Lord cannot experience the fullness of God in Christ. As a result, they are not experiencing enough of his abundant life to be different from the world, so even if they share the gospel in word, their lives do not compel people to believe they are true.
Billy Graham said it well: “Many people are willing to have Jesus as part of their lives—as long as it doesn’t cost them anything. They may even profess faith in Jesus and join a church. But Jesus to them is almost like an insurance policy—something they obtain and then forget about until they die. But Jesus calls us to follow him every day.”
Then he asked, “What keeps you from being his disciple?”
“He will tax the remotest star”
His question leads to my prediction: Your character will determine your destiny this year.
If God’s favor is a commodity you “purchase” with enough spirituality to earn the blessing you seek, your self-centered transaction will fail. The King of kings will not be a means to your ends.
But if you decide that you want God to have all of you there is, you will experience more of your Lord than you have ever known before. Oswald Chambers was right: “When we choose deliberately to obey him, then he will tax the remotest star and the last grain of sand to assist us.”
His Spirit will manifest the character of Christ in your life: his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23). He will make you more like Jesus every day (Romans 8:29) and then continue the earthly ministry of Christ through you as his “body” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
So, make this the year of the Holy Spirit. Begin every day by surrendering your life and day to him (Ephesians 5:18), giving him control of your thoughts, words, and actions. Ask him to manifest the character of Christ in you more fully than ever before. Decide now that you will serve Christ whatever he asks, wherever he leads, whatever the cost, then ask the Spirit to empower you to keep your commitment.
The result will be a life lived fully to the glory of God in the power of God. You will be led where you never thought you would go and do things you never thought you would do. The world will see Christ in you as Jesus advances his kingdom through you.
Settle for nothing less.
Your character will determine your destiny this year.
What destiny do you choose?