By Scotty Smith, Everyday Prayers, 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith
Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Josh. 24:14–15)
Gracious Father, as I sit here sipping fresh coffee and watching flames dance in the fireplace, it’s early into the first day of a new year. Tons of confetti cover the streets of Manhattan, and gratitude fills my heart.
I’m thankful I’m beginning this year with a little better understanding of the gospel than I had last year and the previous years. I’m already praying that I’ll be able to say the same thing this time next year. For the gospel is not just good news for people getting ready to die—it’s good news for people who are now ready to live.
In the gospel you lavish us with your love, liberate us by your grace, and launch us into your transforming story of redemption. What more could we possibly want or hope for, in life or in death?
Because the gospel is true, I don’t respond to Joshua’s bold charge with a list of New Year’s resolutions—promises of what I’m going to do for you. Rather, I begin this year resolving to abandon myself to everything Jesus has done for us. Jesus is the promise keeper, not us. He’s the one who has promised to make all things new, including me.
Father, that’s why serving you is much more than merely “desirable”; it’s the greatest privilege conceivable and the purest delight imaginable. For Jesus is our Joshua—the one who has saved us, is saving us, and one day will completely save us. Without any embarrassment or fear of cliché, I gladly affirm: Jesus saves! What other savior died for us that we might find life in him? What other god sacrificially serves us that we might gratefully serve him?
Because of the gospel, throwing away my idols feels less like a painful sacrifice and more like a liberating dance. For all my “empty nothings” have ever given me is momentary pleasure and lasting regrets. Remind me of this all year long when I’m tempted to think otherwise.
Father, may this be a year of considering our lives worth nothing to us, if only we may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given us—the task of testifying (by word and deed) to the gospel of your grace (Acts 20:24). In Jesus’ loving name we pray, with great anticipation and much thanksgiving.