December 31, 2018
/ Silver Spring, Maryland, United States
/ Ted N.C. Wilson, president, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Greetings and Happy New Year! We are standing at the beginning of a brand new year of life that God has graciously granted to each of us. How will we spend the upcoming 365 days—or however many days the Lord sees fit to give to each of us?
In First Corinthians chapter 6, verse 19 we are reminded that we “are not our own.” Everything we have, including life itself, is a gift from God. How then, shall we live? What will we write upon the new blank pages for the year 2019? For you see, the choice is ours.
It has been said, “If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.” And Jesus Himself said “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” from Matthew 6 verse 34.
Now, does this mean that we shouldn’t plan for the future? No, not at all. But it does mean that we are not to worry and fret and be in anxiety about what may happen in the future; instead, we are to trust God and follow His leading day by day, spending our time wisely.
The way we choose to spend our time is determined by our priorities—the things that are most important to us.
Now, looking back at the year 2018, how satisfied are you, how satisfied am I, with the way that we spent our time? Now that the year is over essentially, do you believe your priorities were in the right place, or is there room for some adjusting?
May I suggest, if you haven’t already done so, that you put God and His priorities at the top of your list for 2019? The Bible assures us that “As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” Marvelous promise from Psalm 18 verse 30.
So, what are God’s priorities? The salvation of every person on earth—and amazingly, He invites us to participate with Him in winning others for eternity. This is a chiefpriority for the Lord.
More than a century ago, Ellen White gave, through the pages of the Review and Herald, the following inspired counsel for all Seventh-day Adventists, and I quote:
“For Christ’s sake, my brethren and sisters, make the most of the hours of the new year to place the precious light of present truth before the people. The Angel of the covenant is empowering His servants to carry the truth to all parts of the world. He has sent forth His angels with the message of mercy; but, as if they did not speed on their way fast enough to satisfy His heart of yearning love, He lays on every member of His church the responsibility of proclaiming this message. “Let him that heareth say, Come.” “Every member of the church is to show his loyalty by inviting the thirsty to drink of the water of life. A chain of living witnesses is to carry the invitation to the world. Will you act your part in this great work?
“Jesus is calling for many missionaries, for men and women who will consecrate themselves to God, willing to spend and be spent in His service. . . . Shall we not move forward step by step, letting God use us as His helping hand? Shall we not place ourselves on the altar of service? Then the love of Christ will touch and transform us, make us willing for His sake to do and dare.” What incredible words of encouragement from The Review and Herald, January 27, 1903.
And in a letter to her son, Edson White, Ellen White urged the following:
“Oh, be earnest! be zealous and persevering in the work. Watch unto prayer. Cultivate humility and meekness. This will meet the approval of God. Hide yourself in Jesus; let self-love and self-pride be sacrificed. . .
“Seek for thorough heartwork. A surface work will not stand the test of the judgment. Seek for thorough transformation from the world. Let not your hands be stained, your heart spotted, your character sullied, by its corruptions. Keep distinct. . . “When God sees us doing all we can on our part, then He will help us. Angels will aid us, and we shall be strong through Christ strengthening us.”
She continued her plea:
“Do not neglect secret prayer. Pray for yourself. Grow in grace. Advance. Don’t stand still, don’t go back. Onward to victory. Courage in the Lord . . . Battle with the great adversary only a little longer, and then release will come, and the armor will be laid off at the feet of our dear Redeemer.
“Press through every obstacle. If the future looks somewhat clouded, hope on, believe on. The clouds will disappear, and light again shine. Praise God, my heart says, praise God for what He has done for you . . . Commence the new year right.” What a marvelous series of inspiring testimony from Ellen White. It comes from Testimonies for the Church,vol. 1, p. 663, if you would like to look at it yourself.
Although God’s last day messenger wrote that letter on December 27, 1867, it is as relevant today as it was then.
Jesus is coming soon, my dear friends. Very soon. How will you, how will I, use the time, in 2019, that we have been given?
I want to pray that we will seize the opportunities each day to make God’s priorities our own, and that we will be “zealous and persevering” in the work He has given us to do.
May God bless and keep you in the new year. Maranatha!