On January 6, 1867, Charles H. Spurgeon preached a message on Deuteronomy 11:12 titled, “Good Cheer for the New Year.” Drawing from this passage in which Moses testifies to God’s providential watchcare over the promised land of Canaan, Spurgeon proceeded to issue a series of exhortations and encouragements to his congregation in light of the new year.
Though 2020 has in some ways seemed unique, in other ways, the challenges facing followers of Christ entering 2021 are no different from those that have beset Christians through all ages—anxiety over temporal needs, the temptation to prayerlessness, and the allure of the world. We need bold biblical reminds to press on in Christ and to say “no” to worldly worry in the year to come. To this end, Spurgeon’s words remain instructive for us 154 years later.
What follows is an excerpt from the conclusion of the sermon. Minimal edits have been made to provide for paragraph breaks and modern spelling.
The way to use [Deuteronomy 11:12] is this. If the eyes of the Lord will be upon us his people, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, what shall we do? Why, let us be as happy as we can during this year. You have your trials and troubles to come—do not expect that you will be free from them. The devil is not dead, and sparks still fly upward. Herein is your joy, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ will never leave you nor forsake you. Up with your standard now and march on boldly! In the name of the Lord set up your banner, and begin to sing. Away with carking care, God cares for us; the sparrows are fed, and shall not the children be? The lilies bloom, and shall not the saints be clothed? Let us roll all our burdens upon the Burden-bearer. You will have enough to care for if you care for his cause as you should. Do not spoil your power to care for God by caring for yourself.
This year let your motto be, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” By taking thought you cannot add a cubit to your stature, nor turn one hair white or black; take then no anxious thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Lean upon your God, and remember his promise, that as your day is so shall your strength be. “I would have you,” says the apostle, “I would have you without carefulness.” He does not mean, I would have you without economy, without prudence and without discretion, but he means, I would have you without fretfulness, without distrustful care, I would have you be without care for yourself, because the Lord’s eyes will be upon you.
Further, dear friends, I would have you use the text by the way of seeking greater blessings and richer mercies than you have ever enjoyed. Blessed be God for his merciful kindness towards this church; his loving-kindnesses have been very many; his favors new every morning and fresh every evening; but we want more. Let us not be content with a February blessing, though that is generally the month in which we have had our refreshings; let us seek to get a blessing to-day.
I hope you will get it this afternoon in the Sunday-school you workers there, and I hope you will obtain it in the senior classes from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. Let there be no dullness, lethargy, and lukewarmness in the classes this afternoon. The brother who has to address the school will I hope speak to you with fervor and earnestness; there must be no coldness there. And I hope you who are preaching in the street, if it be possible in such weather, or going from house to house with tracts, or doing anything else, will have a blessing on this first Sunday of the year.
But then shall we grow cold next Sunday? Not at all. It is from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. Shall we endeavor to get up a little excitement, and have a revival for five or six weeks? No, blessed be God, we must have it from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. While we have a spring which never grows dry, why should the pitcher ever be empty? Surely gratitude can find us fuel enough in the forests of memory to keep the fire of love always flaming. Why should we be weary when the glorious prize is worthy of our constant exertions, when the great crowd of witnesses hold us in full survey?
May our Lord by his Spirit bring you and me to a high pitch of prayerfulness, and then let us continue in prayer from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. May God bring you and me to a high degree of generosity, and then may we be always giving from the beginning of the year to the end of the year every week, from the first to the last, always laying by in store as God has prospered us for his cause. May we be always active, always industrious, always hopeful, always spiritual, always heavenly, and always raised up and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. So may our gracious God deal with us from the beginning of the year to the end of the year through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.