From The Pulpit Making the New Year Count Psalm 90:10-17
There are many different ways to approach a new year. Some engage in the tradition of New
Year’s resolutions, which usually involve a whole lot of good intentions but very little follow
“I am going to lose weight… I am going to get out of debt… I am going to find a mate… I
am going to start a business…” The New Year is an exciting time of new beginnings and fresh
starts. Some get so excited at the prospect of a new year that they begin to proclaim that this year
is “their year.”
If you’re like me, you can remember last year around this time, when 2016 was “my year.”
And a year before that when 2015 was “my year.” And when 2007 was “my year.” And when
1994 was “my year.”
As we consider this text, prayerfully we will discover a way of approaching this New Year
with a new perspective on what we hope to see happen in our lives over the next 365 days.
The first thing we need to recognize is that we are living on God’s time.
Moses, the author of this psalm, begins by considering the eternal existence of God in the
first verses, declaring that the Lord has been “our dwelling place in all generations” and that
“from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” After meditating on that glorious reality, he
turns his attention to the temporality of man.
Living on God’s time means that our time is limited. This in and of itself is a deeply
troubling idea for many of us because we love to feel like we are in control of our lives. We want
to be in the words of the poet, “the master of our fate” and “the captain of our soul.”
Even when it comes to how long we live, we think we can control that. We run and we
stretch, and we kickbox and Zumba, and we purge and we cleanse, and we juice and we detox,
and we P90X and “Sweat to the Oldies,” and we do all of this thinking that we can somehow
determine our own longevity.
Now, as important as it is we take care of our bodies, and as desirable as it is that we
maintain a healthy diet and make sure we get some exercise every day, none of that changes the
reality that our times are in God’s hands, and ultimately He is the One who determines how long
we stay here.
He goes on to express the fact that not only is our time limited, but our times are hard. He
says that if by strength we make fourscore years—if we make it to 80 years old— “yet is their
strength labor and sorrow.”
One of the things I love about the Bible is it does not try to sugarcoat life. It does not give us
a false view of life as one unbroken stream of happiness.
Life is not easy. Life is good—but it’s not easy. Life is a blessing, but it is not easy. Not
only is life hard, but it’s short. As our Pastor Emeritus, Dr. Solomon Drake would say, “life at
its longest, is short.” It is soon cut off, and we fly away.
In light of this sobering reality that Moses makes the request in verse 12 of our text. He says,
“Teach us to number our days...”
The psalmist asks God to “teach” us to number our days, because our natural tendency is to
not number our days—to not consider how fleeting, how precious, how wonderful our days are,
even the hard days. So Lord, teach us to number our days.
Lord, teach us to value our days and help us to recognize that all of our days are numbered.
All of us are living on borrowed time. But not only do we live on God’s time, but we linger by
I need to recognize that nothing I do is going to keep me here. Nothing I can accomplish or
achieve is going to lighten the load when life gets hard. What I need is mercy and God’s
unfailing love. I need the help and kindness of a God who is not obligated to help or be kind to
me. I also need for God not to treat me as my sins deserve. What I need is mercy.
Mercy is what meets our needs. Mercy is what suits our case. Mercy is what satisfies us. It
was mercy that kept you all night long. It was mercy that prevented your house from burning
down around you in your sleep. You and I are living by God’s mercy—that’s why Jeremiah said
in Lamentations 3:22 “It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his
compassions fail not. The only thing that has carried us these few days into this New Year is the
mercy of God.
I don’t know if you know it or not, but you’ve already done enough in these few days to be
consumed. In these few days you’ve already said enough to be condemned. In these few days
you’ve already thought enough to be destroyed by the holy wrath of God. But we linger by
If we want to make this New Year count, not only must we recognize that we are living on
God’s time and are lingering by God’s mercy. We must also have a longing for God’s glory.
The psalmist says that this life is limited and it’s hard. I’m only here by God’s mercy. So let
me see God’s work in my life. Let His glory be manifested through me.
I don’t know what you are pursuing today, but if it is anything short of the glory of God, you
are wasting your time. We must say, “Lord, get the glory out of our life.” That’s how we make
the New Year count. When we submit ourselves completely to the will of our Holy God and say,
“I turn it all over to You—all of my dreams, all of my aspirations, all of my desires, all of my
problems, all of my pitfalls, all of my issues, all of my fears, I turn it all over to You. Whatever it
is, use it for Your glory God.
I can tell you right now that 2017 is not your year. 2017 is the Lord’s year. Every year is
God’s year because we are living on God’s time.