Time is running out. Four days left to fulfill your New Year's resolutions for 1995--unless you followed the guaranteed path to success and didn't make any resolutions at all. The beginning of a new year is like having a fresh start. When the calendar rolls over to January 1, 1996 we have a milestone date--a new chance to improve ourselves, to break old habits and develop good ones, to put past mistakes behind us and to try to avoid similar mistakes.
Yet self-improvement doesn't come without work, and when we see that we actually need to make changes in our lives, sometimes painful changes, often our resolutions fall by the wayside within the first few days or weeks of a new year. That doesn't bother us too much. There's always next year. There will always be another January 1 and another chance to start over.
Or will there be? Will we always have another chance to start over? We might like to believe that life will always go on just as it is today, but the facts tell us something different. New years will come and go, but our lives are limited. Life comes to an end. We don't have all the time in the world, but God only gives us a few years on this earth. It's a fact of life.
Yet that fact doesn't need to upset us. Instead, God urges us to use our years wisely. Moses once wrote, "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). As this year comes to a close and the new one begins, consider your own life and how you can use it wisely. Think about how you can best use your life to serve God and others.
Many look at the fact that life is short and feel hopeless. Yet God is the one who gives us hope, who gives us reason to live and to live wisely. Without the Savior God sent us, our lives would be hopeless. We would have a few meaningless years on this earth and then face an eternity of God's anger and punishment for our sins. Our lives would be nothing but a few decades of desperately seeking God's favor through our own imperfect efforts, of trying to convince ourselves that in the end everything would work out. Yet as sinners we would have no reason for that hope. At the end of our lives we would face our holy God, who would judge us to be unholy and sinful, and who would send us away to punishment forever.
Two days ago Christians celebrated the birth of the one who gives their lives meaning--Jesus, the Savior of all. Out of love for us God sent his own Son to rescue us from the eternal punishment we deserve. Jesus lived a holy life in our place and gave up that perfect life for us sinners, to earn forgiveness for us. With Jesus as our Savior, we don't have to fear God's anger or his punishment. Our lives have meaning, because we know that when our lives are over we will have life again--life forever with God in heaven. We don't live our lives to please ourselves, but to serve the God who saved us from our sins.
That gives our lives meaning for the coming new year and every year God gives us. Moses asked God, "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." By showing us our Savior, God teaches us how to use our days wisely. Make it your New Year's resolution to use your days wisely. Read and study God's Word daily, to learn more about your Savior and to find God's wisdom. Make it your practice to worship God often, and to serve him with your life and actions. Through God's Word and his wisdom, learn to number your days. Learn to know your God and resolve to use your life to serve him because Jesus has come to serve you.