by Pastor David Nkenchor
Time is life, we say, and that, truthfully so. God the giver of life measures life by time; and that time (life) is mainly in years. So our lives are measured by the years we live. Therefore, years are important, even in the Gregorian calendar, because how we spend our lives tells the quality of the life we live.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”
This goes to say that how our year ends is more important than how it started. How your 2017 would end is more important than how you started it, because you can recover anything you lost in the course of the year.
If someone was an unbeliever, he can become a child of God before the end of the year. Each end of year is a subset of the overall end of every man’s life.
We as believers have faith that we would live long and go to heaven in the Rapture, but the prerogative is not in our hands, it’s in God’s hands. What we need to do is take every month as part of the cumulative result at the end of the year.
Year-ends for individuals and families usually signify time for:
1. Relaxation and celebration after the travails of the year; people go for retreats, just to unwind.
2. Reflections (Looking back). Reflections are also a common thing during year-ends too. The end of year forces many people to reflect and ask themselves: what have I achieved this year?
3. Stock-taking: This is objective assessment of different areas of life. Ask yourself, “How did I fare this year as an employee or an employer, as a husband or a wife, as a father or a pastor”; what did I achieve and what did I not achieve?
4. Evaluation of values: this is a thorough check on governing or guiding principles. If you failed this year, how can you excel next year? Evaluation of values helps you to set goals for the next year. You cannot continue to do the same thing and expect a different result. Ask yourself, “Did my spiritual life grow?” “What level of intimacy did I have with God this year?”
5. Plan for consolidation or termination (Either you build-upon or do-without). Pull out the values that have not worked and build on the ones that have worked.
6. Setting goals and priorities (Core targets) for the coming year. Some people seek God for their goals, some seek strange gods, and some seek their “godfathers”. Whichever way, there is a seeking. Seek the Lord for your goals if you have to, and strategize how to execute them.
7. Strategizing Execution (How, when and where)
If you are not doing these, then something is wrong. You may not follow this outline, but you must be able to plan for the coming year at year end. These steps apply to godly and ungodly, spiritual and sensual, eternal and ephemeral pursuits, irrespective of the side of the divide that any man falls into. Some do it more consciously than others. Since this is the case, let’s take a look at four major events the Bible records that happened at the end of a year.
1. Nebuchadnezzar—Daniel 4:1-37
At this point, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of all the earth, sent a letter to all the people of his time. He begins his greeting with “Peace be multiplied unto you…” sounding more like the Apostle Paul writing. How could an ungodly ruler use biblical terminology to write, if not that he has had an encounter with the divine?
“Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation. I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace: I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. . . This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee. . .Belteshazzar answered and said, . . . It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth. . .This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king: That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. . . Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity. All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the king’s mouth, . . . The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, . . . and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.”
Nebuchadnezzar was such a great king, with an established kingdom that even heaven recognised it. He had this dream in the course of the year, and he also had time to make amends, to perhaps avoid its fulfillment. At the end of 12 months (end of the year) it is recorded that he took stock to see what he had achieved through the year. But after he took stock, he got lifted up in His heart; he prided himself in all his accomplishments, and he incurred God’s wrath immediately.
Nebuchadnezzar became an animal for seven good years. And this happened after he had taken stock of his life at the end of the year. Why did he wait till the twelfth month (or end of the year) to take stock?
Usually at the end of the year people want to take stock, relax and let down their guards. Probably in the course of the year, Nebuchadnezzar was still focused and mindful of the dream and still ordering his steps aright. But at the end of the year, a spirit came upon him, which did not allow him to be humble and to regard God in his heart, and that spirit is still very much around.
Usually at the end of the year all over the world, while God is looking for people to accomplish more for Him in the coming year, the devil is also looking for a way to make people to forget God, to believe in self, to look at their accomplishments, and just have fun. The end of the year provides for fun, and our own end of the year is December.
It is wise that we look at the life of Nebuchadnezzar and other case studies to see how the end of year affected their lives. In that time in history, kings usually take count of their spoil at year ends, just as a farmer take counts of harvest for the year, or even begins the harvest season for Jews.
Year ends has a spirit that can make one to be spiritually insensitive if one is not careful, and ungrateful. It presents people with a time to have unbridled celebration and passion, robbing them of sobriety, thereby making them to consider themselves as the main person on the driver seat of their lives.
December or end of year is one of such times when there is a concentration of atmospheric pressure. Church attendance usually increases in December, because that is when prophetic declarations come forth such as, “you will recover all!” including the ones that the Lord has not given you.
Jamborees, partying, clubbing and wastefulness increase at the end of the year, because people just feel that they are entitled to it. Even believers in Christ tend to cut down their standards at the end of the year.
Here was a man that heard the word of the Lord and received the interpretation of it. I don’t think he did what he did in his right senses. Same goes for Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus openly. No man betrays his master openly. Ordinarily, he wouldn’t have done that in his right senses. I think the god he served took over him at that point. And that is atmospheric pressure.
2. The Rich Fool—Luke 12:17-20
“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”
This happened at the end of the year too, being the time for the Jewish harvest too. This man had laboured all year and done well, his heart was not lifted. But at the end of the year, he was careless and his heart became lifted up. What is wrong in having a field and reaping a bountiful harvest? Why did he fail at the end of the year?
Year ends are slippery periods and call for serious attention. You may have been strong through the course of the year, but you still need to be careful at the end of the year. For this man to be called a rich man shows that he had labored over a period of time, because riches are not gotten in one day.
3. David, a Man after God’s Own Heart—2 Samuel 11:1-12:10; 1 Kings 15:5
The case of David is one that we need to learn a lot from, because he was a guileless man after God’s heart, until he committed the adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband.
Usually, kings lead wars, but at the time of year end when he was supposed to go to war, he chose to stay back at home.
Some people have faulted Uriah for leaving the roof of his wife’s bathroom without covering, causing King David to see her naked and to lust after her. But on the other hand, it is not unusual for women to take liberties when they believe that they are alone. Perhaps Bathsheba had thought that the king had gone to war, because it was only the king that had access to that rooftop (it was a relaxation point for him).
Why didn’t David go to war at that end of year? Why did he choose to relax at that point in time? The end of the year is a time when the orchestrations of the gates of hell prosper. Good and evil prosper easily during year ends.
Let’s look at the sequence from when David saw and lusted after Bathsheba, to the point of killing her husband and taking her for himself. Count the Sequence:
Wrong position (straying) → seeing → looking → inquiries → processing feedback → sending messengers → taking her → her coming in → lying with her → her return → processing her message of pregnancy → deciding on 1st plot → sending for Uriah → discussion with Uriah → sending Uriah home → Uriah’s query → deciding on 2nd plot → getting Uriah overfed and drunk → deciding on 3rd plot and Uriah’s death → death-sentence letter to Joab → sending Uriah back to battle → receiving news of Uriah’s death → 4th plot → fetching for her → her becoming his wife = 25 STAGES!!!
Just one wrong decision at year end, and sin ensued.
NOTE: This does not diminish David’s value in God’s sight one bit, as he has repented and received pardon, but, it sure flawed his spotless record, provided for and set on course troubles in the Davidic lineage and remains canonized in the Holy-Bible for our example. Remember, just a little leaven leavens the whole lump (Galatians 5:9); no one can take fire in his bosom without being burnt (Proverbs 6:26-27).
LESSONS TO BE LEARNT FROM DAVID
• “I am not as strong as I assume”. Don’t think that you are that strong.
• My ease/relaxation must be confined within Godly boundaries. You can relax, but;
• Remain on guard, the tempter, adversary, devil, is still at work
• Idleness and being at wrong places tend to make us yield to the power of temptation and the flesh over God’s grace upon us. Idleness does not necessarily mean doing nothing; it could also mean doing things that are counterproductive, or doing things that are contrary to purpose.
• The bed of sloth often proves the bed of lust – Mathew Henry’s Commentary
4. Esther—Esther 3: 7-15; 8:12; 9:1
Why would Haman, a high official in the Persian court, in his plot of revenge for Mordecai’s “supposed insubordination” to him, wait till year-end (12th month) to decide on his plot against Israel? Because he wanted to shame the people of God since he knew that was usually a period of celebration of God’s goodness. He was looking for something to do against the people of God so that they would say that God had not been good to them.
And why would he wait till first month/new year to circulate his plot? The content of the letter for the intended plot also indicated that it was to be carried out at the end of the year too. Why did he not just execute the plot in the 2nd month after circulating it in the first month? Because he wanted to kill their joy and to put them to shame.
As God is calling us at this time (year-end) for sober reflections, thanksgiving and sharpening our spiritual edges for times ahead, the adversary – the Devil – seeks it for unbridled passion (fun), discontentment and sensualisation, telling us to throw away all guard. This underscores our need to be more alert and watchful against the devil’s devices this season (See Revelation 3:2; 2 Corinthians 2:11b).
10 NUGGETS FOR FINISHING THE YEAR STRONG AND WELL
Psalms 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”
1. Be true to yourself. No matter how strong you are, the case of Samson is instructive here (See Judges 13-16). Samson thought he would always be a strong man. He fell for Delilah because he underestimated her prowess, while overestimating his power.
2. Remain watchful unto prayers.
3. Stay in God’s presence by walking in the Spirit, in addition to prayers. Like the Jews in Esther’s days, who fasted and prayed for God’s deliverance, take advantage of end-of-year fasting meetings in your local church, as a family, or just by yourself. Take time out to stay in God’s presence.
4. Bond with family, especially your spouse. Don’t be on the mountain all through. Married men should be with their wives, sporting with their wives. Physical intimacy is important at year ends too. Catch up on moments of love you both have missed due to busyness. Remember, the strange woman is out there too, and year ends are a peak period for them (See Proverbs 6:26; Proverbs 5 & 7). If you have exploited your spouse by denying him or her of physical intimacy, make it up during the end of the year. Bond with your family and let them enjoy your presence. But don’t let it end there. Your family is your first point of call, when you miss it there, you have missed it. There are still women like Delilah lurking around, and there are hunting men too, so stay on guard!
5. Watch your steps, activities and company (internal and external) this season, because atmospheric pressures are strong and crucial.
6. Be grateful and thankful to God and men
7. Set affection on things above, even while praying and believing God for the good things as promised, like father Abraham. There is a wisdom that Abraham had, that despite how he was so blessed, yet his affections was on heavenly things
8. Beef-up your guard/discipline, like a true Soldier at the hottest part of battle (2 Timothy 2:3; Galatians 5:1)
9. Propagate the gospel of Christ anywhere, everywhere, anytime and as occasion presents before you. Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 4:1-2.
10. Complete abstinence as much as possible cannot be over-emphasized – (1 Thessalonians 5:22)
SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE STILL STRONG AND WELL, Shalom.