Don’t Start 2024 with a Clean Slate

A Clean Slateswept clean

January 1 started out with our often-repeated routine: taking down the Christmas decorations and storing them away. Once they were out of sight, we turned our attention to cleaning and re-staging the living area. The last 2023 task to put behind us was preparing for filing income tax records. Closing the box on 2023 felt like I had swept away the past year, leaving 2024 as a clean slate on which to create new experiences. That concept jarred me. I knew the new year was not supposed to start with a clean slate. Not everything is to be swept off and away.

For us, 2023 marked a period in our lives when the Lord did several deep works in our hearts. He planted truths—not necessarily new theological concepts—deeper in our hearts than any other year can claim. Don’t misunderstand me. Previous events and lessons have redirected our lives, but this past year expanded our boundaries and strengthened us for the battles I believe we’ve yet to face.

A New Declaration

So, my declaration is—we will not sweep all of 2023 out of sight and mind. A lesson learned then forgotten has to be learned again, and we don’t want to use our time in repeat activities. We will purpose to review what He has shown us this past year in our meditations and prayers—and share and claim them again. In that, I challenge all who are reading this to do the same. While I will share here some of what impacted us in 2023, I don’t expect you to have had the same “aha” moments, nor even expect you to glue my insights into your 2023 scrapbook. What you have experienced the past year is His unique coursework for you.

Take the time now to secure those life lessons. Remember this principle that I realized: each special moment might have been a stepping stone for us, but their purpose was (and is) to launch us to greater heights in His kingdom experience in 2024. For that reason, we can’t sweep them away.

A new heart toward the goodness of God

Several times last year, the last part of Romans 2:4 intersected my thoughts, “…the goodness of God leads to repentance.” Goodness. The concept seems so contrary to our way of thinking. My initial reaction to opposition or conflict is to want to see a grand action to silence others. I would have been right there with the disciples—asking Jesus if I should call down fire. The first tool of correction that comes to my mind is the rod, forgetting the purpose of the staff as in Psalm 23. I can’t tell you how many times I prayed for God, if necessary, to strike my Dad down with an illness to get him to stop drinking.

Paul also wrote in Romans 12:20 “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head,” (NKJV). Again, I understood the words, “coals of fire” to speak of harshness, judgment, or punishment of some sort that would turn someone around in their thinking and actions.

A new look at it

That was my thought until I heard a teaching that reminded us that fire was a great commodity in that age. To heap coals of fire on someone’s head (as in a canister to carry it home) would have been to pile on them abundant blessings. Doing so would bring a unique type of conviction that could cause repentance.

As valuable as that understanding is, that is not what the Lord ministered to us this year. The Lord instructed us that our willingness to pray a blessing for those who have offended us worked in us a heart of forgiveness. No longer wanting to sit on the judgment seat in place of God, we mourned for the impact sin was having in their lives and compassion swelled in our hearts. We found new freedom to make ourselves available and with that, a desire to minister to their needs when opportunities arose.

a picture of care

Our new understanding also changed our prayers. We now pray for God’s goodness to be poured out on those we know are resisting Him. We ask for an abundance of His mercy and grace to overtake them like a tidal wave. Give them, oh Lord, a taste of the sweetness and perfection of your love that will keep them asking for more.

We are not removing that with the waste of 2023.

Apostle’s prayers/God-breathed

Our new understanding also changed our prayers. We now pray for God’s goodness to be poured out on those we know are resisting Him. We ask for an abundance of His mercy and grace to overtake them like a tidal wave. Give them, oh Lord, a taste of the sweetness and perfection of your love that will keep them asking for more.

As my wife and I began to practice this type of prayer, I noticed how often the emphasis and frequency in the apostles’ prayers was on experiencing God’s love. Recognizing the Lord prayed for the apostles to experience this intimacy ignited our faith to believe such a love-filled relationship is obtainable, emboldening us to move toward it with solid determination.

With His love poured out came God’s knowledge, wisdom, and discernment, This is a launchpad we are definitely keeping.

Invisible God/invisible kingdom/visible display in us

The last insight of 2023 I will mention here is a truth that seems so simple that we easily overlook it. Our salvation experience is often simplified to our saying, Jesus comes into our hearts. However, the New Testament doesn’t stop there. The Holy Spirit—that part of the godhead most often related to the miracle-working power of God—is also said to be in us. Moreover, Jesus said even God would abide in our hearts.

We have the full godhead in us. Where the King is, there His kingdom is as well. That means that wherever we go, wherever we find ourselves, the kingdom of heaven is there—complete in its wisdom, authority, and resources. Of course, we can’t waste any of them on our fleshly desires. But, He can accomplish His purpose regardless of our weakness or timidity if we will just get out of His way to let Hin work through us.

The account of Jesus sending the disciples out by twos to give one message—the kingdom of heaven is at hand—always struck me as odd until I got a real grasp on the concept. The disciples were just simple tradesmen who had walked with Jesus for a season or two. They listened to Him preach, witnessed His miracles, and were perhaps a little astounded or befuddled when He told them to go do the same. Now, as in those days, Jesus is doing it again.

Jesus is reminding His church that wherever we are, the kingdom of God is there with everything we need to impact a dying world. Be bold and declare it!

Share life

We received many more lessons in 2023 than these three, but these are the ones we are launching into the New Year with. I am interested to hear how the Lord spoke to you in 2023. What truth’s will launch you to a better start in 2024?

Charles Huff

Charles Huff is a Bible teacher, minister, speaker, husband, father and grandfather. He and his wife have held pastors seminars and taught in various churches, including remote mountain churches in the Philippines. His writing has appeared in, The Upper Room; articles in three anthologies: Gifts from Heaven: True Stories of Miraculous Answers to Prayer compiled by James Stuart Bell; Short and Sweet Too and Short and Sweet Takes a Fifth, both compiled by Susan Cheeves King.

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