The celebration on New Year’s Eve at most churches includes a pot luck meal and games and fellowship on this last night of the year. Makes for good times and great memories as we close out the year in a safe place among good people.
Those of us old enough to remember have very special memories of church services on New Year’s Eve. Those services were called “Watch Night” services. The people came to church at 7:30 and stayed until after midnight. Oh, it was glorious! We sang together out of the hymnal, someone sang a special song or two, people gave testimonies, a preacher preached, then everyone got onto their knees – around the altar, or they knelt at their pews – and prayed together. The volume of prayer rose and fell, swelled and softened. When the prayer time finally ended, we sat back down and started again with songs and testimonies and preaching and ended the service at midnight, praying in the New Year. Children were asleep under the pews, and saints were encouraged and empowered through the precious hours of corporate worship. We had been in the Presence of God, and we knew it. Precious memories, indeed.
Those services included time for soul-searching, for closing out the old year with clean hearts right with God. A time for lamp-trimming, so that our lights could burn even and bright for Christ in the new year, ready to meet Him should He return for His bride.
Paul speaks of “watchings”, and the word in the Greek has the same meaning as the watch night service had for us in the past: “to be sleepless so as to keep awake and watch; not merely awake, but watchful with purpose and intent; to be purposefully awake, praying in the night instead of sleeping.”
Perhaps you and I could make some time amid all our frantic activities as this year draws to its close for some lamp-trimming, for some soul-searching of our own. David prayed, “Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; test my heart” (Psalm 26:2). Paul instructs us: “Examine yourselves; prove your own selves” (2 Corinthians 13:5). And Jesus told His disciples to “watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation” (Matthew 26:40&41). We can use these questions from a very old devotional book to help us in our pursuit of a clean heart – a trimmed lamp – at end of year…
- How is your soul prospering?
- Are you walking as close to God as you one time walked?
- Are you sure there is nothing between your soul and the Savior?
- Have you any faults or sins which you need to confess to God or others and seek forgiveness?
- Have you wronged anyone? Make it right.
- How deep is your love for God? For His children? For His Word? For private prayer? For corporate worship?
- Do you have the Spirit’s witness right now that you are saved and walking in all the light He has given you?
- How well do you resist temptation to sin?
- Are you careful about obeying the checks of the Spirit?
- Are you doing your best not to grieve God in any manner?
- Is your temper sweet and Christ-like?
- Are you doing everything you know to grow in grace?
- Do you have a zeal for the conversion of sinners?
- Are you careful about sins of the tongue such as gossip, slander, criticizing, complaining, boasting, quarreling, and any kind of filthy communication?
- Do you always speak the truth?
- Are you careful to keep your eyes on Jesus and not on people?
- Are you diligent to dismiss evil thoughts when they come?
- Are you careful to seek God’s will in all decisions?
- Are you kind and considerate of your spouse and children?
- Do you commit to God all things you cannot understand?
- Do you have a Spirit-filled heart and a God-centered life?
Wow. Talk about being trimmed. But it’s what we need and want as we prepare our hearts for the New Year and Christ’s imminent return for His bride. “Keep your lamps all trimmed and burning. For the Bridegroom watch and wait.” Burn clean and consistent in anticipation. He’s coming back for you and me! And may this be a blessed and happy new year for everyone!
1 Timothy 1:17