It’s the final day of the year 2023. Opportunely, it has fallen on the Lord’s day. So we have a morning worship service and an evening watchnight service to round out the year on a high note – glorifying our God alongside our spiritual family.
If not already done, today will no doubt be occupied with planning for the year ahead. We plan for our physical necessities, for our financial budgets, and perhaps even for our holidays. We plan for all these and more because as the adage goes, “failing to plan is planning to fail”.
On this note, let us be encouraged by John Piper on how to plan for the most important things in the new year.1
My plea to you this new year is that you take time to plan the most important things in your life.
Plan for the Most Important Things in Your Life
Plan how you are going to spend time with your spouse to deepen and strengthen the relationship. Plan how you are going to spend time playing with and teaching the children. Plan how you are going to get the amount of exercise you need to stay healthy. Plan how you are going to get enough sleep. Plan how much you should eat and how you are going to limit yourself. Plan your vacation so that it really gives rest and spiritual renewal.
And most important, plan how prayer and meditation on the Word are going to be significant parts of your life. Without a plan these most important things always get pushed aside by urgent pressures.
Make Planning a Regular Part of Your Life
But it won't work just to plan something tonight or tomorrow. Planning must be a regular part of your life. I expect that the pastoral staff at Bethlehem will take a full day each month away from the church office just to pray and plan their ministry. This is in addition to the time I expect we are all taking each week to plan our week's work.
So my plea to you is that you set aside time each week to plan, especially to plan your life of prayer and Bible study. For example, since Sunday is the first day of the week (not the last day of the weekend!) and belongs to the Lord, take ten or fifteen minutes each Sunday and think through when you will pray and what you will study that week. Give some thought how God might want to use you that week in a special way. Plan the letters you need to write, the Bible verses you want to teach your children, the visit you want to make, the book you want to read, the neighbor you want to talk to, etc.
The Proverbs teach us to plan. The greatest missionary who ever lived was a planner. God is a God who does all things according to plan. And Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem because of the most loving plan ever devised.
He planned for our joy; we ought to plan for his glory.
1 Adapted from an article by John Piper, (1984, December 31). A New Year's Plea: Plan!.
Ps Luwin Wong