The last week of the year is a good time—with God's help—to reflect on the past 12 months, do a little self-assessment, and decide what things to repent of and reach for in the next lap around the sun.
At the end of his first year as pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, John Piper led his people in doing this through his sermon "I Have Kept the Faith."
Below is the conclusion of that sermon. Just plug in "2010" and "2011" where you read "1980" and "1981," and the content is still relevant 30 years later.
So, how did we do in 1980? If 1980 were the whole of our life, could we say with Paul, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness"? My guess is that there are people here who can give three different answers to that question.
- One will say, "I fought no fight because I felt no great desire to follow Christ's counsel and trust his promises. Satan and my own flesh got no resistance from me."
- Another will say, "I felt some desire to trust Christ and go his way, but whenever a conflict arose, I was defeated every time. I really didn't fight a very good fight."
- And a third will say, "Praise God, it was a hard but glorious year. The Word of God came alive for me and helped time and time again to overcome temptation and hold to Christ. It wasn't always easy, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Whichever one of those groups you are in now, remember this: by the grace of God, this day is only a rehearsal of the end. His mercy is opening before you a new life in 1981, and you can enter it and finish as a victorious fighter if you will declare yourself from your heart as one who now renounces Satan's power and self-reliance and who trusts Jesus Christ for all his word.