Start the Year with Praise

1 Timothy 1:17

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen (CSB).

At the conclusion of every year, most people conduct at least a casual evaluation of what kind of a year it was for them. Answers range across the whole spectrum from “horribly terrible” to “most excellent”. I can understand the reasons many say, “I’m glad this year is over! I hope the new year will be much better!” My wife and I went through a series of years (2010-2015) that we were glad to see end. Looking back now, I think we can see the hand of God’s blessing on us at all times during those years, even though we suffered. Our Sovereign God was very merciful when it was hard to discern his hand of blessing. And we’re thankful!

Regardless of how you and I evaluated the past year, I know how we ought to begin 2020: with joyful praise to the Lord our God! If you had a difficult year, remember to keep the living God in your focus in the new year. If you think last year was great, don’t forget the Father in heaven who has loaded you with benefits.

Wherever you are on this spectrum, a godly response will require ongoing repentance and faith. By this I mean that we will need to have our thoughts of the true and living God transformed by his word, and then to trust him each step of the way. It is important to both have our minds renewed (Rm 12:1-2) and to commit ourselves to the Lord. It doesn’t do any good and even is spiritually harmful to say, “I will trust God better this year,” if we have wrong ideas and thoughts about God. For example, can you trust God if you have doubts about his wisdom or control over all things or his kindness or his love? The answer should be obvious. Can you trust God if you wrongly imagine that you have the right to decide what is best for you, or if God is required to make your life pleasant? Not at all!

So then, how can we have right ideas of God and attitudes about him, so that we desire to praise the true and living God? I think our text highlights some characteristics of God that will transform our minds and hearts.

  • God is King. He’s the Boss. He directs all things according to the counsel of his own will. While he joyfully includes us in his work, he doesn’t ask for our advice. This is rather difficult for people to accept who want to be directing life in this world. I hear too much about people asserting that “we have a free will”. I’ve never heard anyone ask, “Does God have a free will?”
  • God is immortal. He’s not affected by time, human events, and human opinions about him. He never changes in his glorious, holy essence. He is God, and there is no other. He will be the same holy and loving God for us throughout the year.
  • God is invisible. He is spirit, and we cannot perceive his presence with our physical senses. People long for various physical signs that God is present. That makes idolatry extremely popular. Too many contemporary churches try to make the spiritual physically apparent by the use of lights, fog machines, and the interior design of their buildings. This is not different from churches in the past that used paintings, sculpture, stained glass windows, and soaring architecture to try to achieve similar results. But God is invisible. You must trust his revelation of himself. The Spirit of Glory resides in every believer, but we do not have halos or a supernatural glow!
  • God is the only God. He has no equals or competitors. He is unique; he is holy. This truth demands that we set our minds and love on him above all. It also requires us to rejoice that he is God and not we ourselves.

May God give us the grace to think and live in conformity with his revelation of himself. Then we will be able to praise him during 2020.

Grace and peace, David