I have had a scripture jostling around in my brain since New Year’s Day. Let me tell you about it, and maybe it will stick in your mind too.
I long to obey your commandments. Renew my life with your goodness.
Psalm 119:40 – NLT
Is gift giving one of your love languages? It’s one of mine. I adore giving gifts to those I love. I enjoy the process of finding the perfect gift for someone special to me. Even better, I love watching the person open their gift. It’s so fun to witness that beautiful blend of surprise and pleasure in their voice and on their face.
I also love receiving gifts. My enjoyment of the gift has little to do with the nature of the present or the lavishness of its expense. In fact, I tend to love the little, inexpensive gifts the best. Still, the best part of receiving a gift is the surprise. I get such a kick out of the act of opening the gift and seeing what someone picked out for me.
Some of my best gifts have no material value. They are the unexpected pleasures I stumble across on any given day. They are the little things, like the morning birdsong floating down from the trees, or the golden glow of a winter sunset. Definitely, it’s the little surprises that account for some of my best gifts.
I received one of those little gifts when I opened up my inbox on New Year’s Day. Years ago, I signed up to receive a ”Verse Of The Day” email from the radio station, K-Love. Each morning, one verse arrives in my inbox, and it always feels like a little gift. Over the years, I have been amazed by how many of these daily verses Hit home with me, their content speaking directly to some concern or reflection that’s on my mind.
It should have come as no surprise to me that the selected verse for New Year’s Day would be right on target. Still, when my iPhone’s cute little automated Australian voice began reading the scripture to me, I caught my breath in surprise. “I long to obey your commandments. Renew my life with your goodness” (Psalm 119:40, NLT).
“Wow!” I thought to myself, my mind latching onto the second half of that beautiful verse. “Renew my life with your goodness.” What a powerful thought for the beginning of a new year. Renew my life. Renewal, a fresh start, a do-over, a reset, all these themes floated through my mind. But the verse expressed even more than just a spiritual reboot. It says, ”Renew my life with your goodness.” It’s not pointing to any goodness that happens to be lodged inside me. No, this is pointing to God’s goodness. It’s a prayer, a heartfelt request for God to pour out His goodness on us. It’s a plea for His goodness , His mercy, to wash over us and renew our lives.
I remember thinking, “What a beautiful thought! How wonderful it would be to have my life renewed by His goodness! Yes, I want that! I certainly want that on this first day of a new year.”
But then I paused, considering the whole verse once more. My mind had snatched up the second half of the verse, even as it had skipped over the first half. ”I long to obey your commandments” (Psalm 119:40a, NLT). Hmmm…I had leapt for the gift of spiritual renewal, looking toward God for a generous gift, but totally missed that I had a role to play in this process. I couldn’t expect God to transform my life with a blessing of goodness if I wasn’t willing to obey His commands. I need to keep his commandments. I need to do the good work He has called me to do. I need to keep my eyes focused on Him and His will before I can expect to receive a gift of renewal.
My spiritual health is not dissimilar from my physical health. I cannot expect to lose weight without changing my eating patterns. I cannot achieve a higher level of fitness without making the effort to exercise more. If I want spiritual renewal, I have to do my part. I have to invest in my spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, worship, and service. I have to follow the good way and choose the path of righteousness.
Those are some deep thoughts to ponder on a Monday morning, aren’t they? Dear friends, God stands ready to bless us, but we need to get our focus on the right things. We need to do our part so God can do His. When our thoughts and attitudes are focused in a right and godly direction, then our lives can be fully renewed. God’s goodness can flow over us, washing us clean, and readying us for a fresh start. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a new year’s gift I surely want to open!
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10 – NLT
O Gracious and Loving God, meet us here on this Monday morning. Find us wherever we are. Heal the hurts that weigh us down. Wash our sin-laden souls clean. Set us on a new and right path. O Dear Lord, create in us a clean heart, and a right spirit. Help us to walk in the good way, following where You lead us. For we long to obey Your commands. Renew our lives with Your goodness.
In the Gracious Name of Jesus, we give thanks and pray,
New Year’s Blessings,