But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. – Deuteronomy 8:11 NLT
As we stand on the brink of yet another new year, we stand the risk of blowing past the old in our hurry to get it behind us. Many of us have already begun making New Year’s resolutions, in the hopes that the next 365 days will be markedly better than the ones we are leaving in our wake. That’s not to say that all of us had a lousy 2013, but most of us approach the New Year in an aspirational manner, forgetting what lies behind and looking forward to what might be in store for us. Which, while not necessarily bad, tends to illustrate an underlying attitude of ungratefulness and a lack of understanding of God’s sovereignty.
One of the things I would recommend that we all do is take a few moments to reflect. Ask yourself a few important questions:
“What has God done this past year?”
“Where has He been active in my life, family, work, church, etc.?”
“In what ways has He blessed me in the last 12 months?”
“Of those blessings, which are the ones I have taken for granted or for which I have attempted to take credit?”
One of the frequently occurring words in the Old Testament Scriptures is “remember.” God was constantly encouraging His people to remember all that He had done for them. They were to recall His activity in their lives and recount them to their children. They were to live with a sense of eager anticipation for what God was going to do in the future, but never forget what He had already done in the past. God’s past activities in our lives should be the basis for our faith in His future actions on our behalf. What He has done He will do again. But we must remember.
As the people of Israel stood ready to enter into the Promised Land under the leadership of Moses, he warned them:
The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give you when he made a vow to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is a land with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant. When you have eaten your fill in this land, be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. – Deuteronomy 6:10-12 NLT
And he wasn’t done:
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills. It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey. It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills. When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. – Deuteronomy 8:7-10 NLT
Don’t forget the Lord. Be sure to praise Him. Remember what He has done and give Him the credit He deserves. Before you start planning for the New Year, take a look back at the old one. Look for God in it. See where He was at work. You may have to look closely. Sometimes His efforts are hidden and overlooked. Far too often, we mistake the hand of God for nothing more than fate. Most of us live in nice homes, drive reliable cars, enjoy relatively good health, and eat far more than we need. We can easily begin to believe that we deserve what we have and that God owes us even more. But the Scriptures would tell us to remember.
“But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God…” – Deuteronomy 8:11 NLT
As we enter into another New Year, let us be careful to give God the gratitude He deserves. He has been active in our lives. He has blessed us in ways that many of us have failed to recognize or appreciate. So before you start setting your New Year’s goals or making any New Year’s resolutions, take a few minutes to look back and look up. Thank God for all that He has done.