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As the old year is dying we, as cove­nant Young People, are again placed by our heavenly Father at the dawn of a New Year. But really, is it a NEW year? Do we not see through the door­way of this coming year, as we stand at the threshold, the same old world of sin and darkness, toil and labor, war and destruction, sickness, sorrow, and death? Isn’t it true that also on New Year’s morning we will awaken in our bodies of this earth earthy, with the same old sinful human natures which are so very, very difficult to overcome? Yes, indeed within us we have an old sinful nature and all is old and sinful round about us for there is nothing new under the sun and old things have not passed away.

How then must we enter this coming year as Young People? What shall our attitude be?

Shall we choose the path of least re­sistance which blindly turns us away from reality and then, in a superficial way, shall we extend to our young friends an empty, shallow “happy new year” greeting? Are we perhaps too young to trouble ourselves with the sin and misery that lies within us and in this present world? Would not life be far more worthwhile for ourselves and others too, if we would make a noble at­tempt to forget all that which is dis­tasteful and put forth a positive effort to find some so-called good that wicked men can do? Should we join with those who are aiming to make this world a better place to live by striving for earth­ly peace and prosperity? Or if we are of the opinion that such is impossible shall we just hopelessly resign our­selves to uselessness and passively wait for the end of all things to come? If in 1952, young friends, we assume any of these attitudes then either our hope is anchored in men and things of this passing world or we are completely with­out hope and can only give up in despair.

But we are covenant Young People and therefore this cannot be—for God is ever faithful and plenteous in mercy.

Do you experience this blessedness? Then on the dawn of the first day of also this coming year you will bow your head with the Publican of old and pray, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

Much is implied in this brief and beau­tiful prayer for it is the expression of one who has been taught from above to know himself as he really is, and when, young friends, this prayer is also our prayer, we do not turn away or try to forget reality but humbly we confess before our God that we are sinners. We realize as we still stand at the thres­hold of 1952 that in our selves we are incapable of following the right road and can only stumble, falter and fall far short of the goal. We are afraid to travel on into the year by ourselves and therefore, cry for His mercy and also this plea gives evidence that within us there is a feeling of complete unworthiness. In this prayer we do not approach God and ask to be dealt with according as we deserve for we know that we are entitled to nothing but death and destruction. We acknowledge that of ourselves we can earn nothing in God’s good favor and therefore we pray, only on the basis of Christ’s merits, that God be merciful. Furthermore, in this prayer there is the expression of an attitude of childlike trust and confi­dence that if only God will be merciful all will be well with us. How often throughout this old year which is slip­ping away into history have we forgot­ten this blessed truth, and, being dis­satisfied with the way of the Lord, even petitioned from Him things which to our thoughts seemed much better and yet were not? How often have we failed to completely trust in His mercy and in­stead placed our hope and confidence in ourselves and the things which can be seen and touched? Think of the many times that, because of our weak­ness, we failed to see the goodness of the way of the Lord. When in this past year we were led over paths of trouble or sorrow were we able as covenant children to put our trust in Him who ruleth over all things and causes them to work to the good of us who were called by Him from before the founda­tions of the earth? Oh, to be sure, even as regenerated children it is so extreme­ly difficult to wholly confide in God and experience the blessed assurance that although our way may be along roads of sorrow and distress yet that it is the road of mercy which alone leads to eternal life and true happiness.

Let us, young friends, throughout this coming year evermore strive by God’s grace to join in prayer with the Publican by -confessing in every thought, word and deed our own emptiness and God’s overflowing fullness. Let us fight the good fight of faith ever striving to place our whole hearted trust and confidence in God for in this way He gives us to taste of the peace that passeth all un­derstanding. It is through true humble prayer that we have hope for the coming year, for Christ has spoken in His word that this meek and penitent Publican went to his house justified, and if we are justified, then all is well.

What a blessed and happy new year will be ours if only we can be assured in the midst of all earthly sorrow and dis­tress that God is well pleased with us. Then in sorrow we have joy, in war we have peace, in adversity we have pros­perity and in very death we have life— for if God be for us who can be against us?

The Christian is placed in many different circumstances while on this earth. Some are characterized by hardships and trials, and others are full of joy and peace. How should the Christian respond? Throughout the Bible there are numerous times where God’s people sang in response to their various circumstances. Singing in response to God’s ordering […]

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The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon to his young adult son. Solomon’s purpose in writing Proverbs was “that the generation to come might know them [God’s wonderful works]…that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:6–7). Throughout the book, Solomon […]

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The group of churches that John writes to in this trio of epistles had recently experienced a split because of doctrinal controversy. We do not know the exact content of the error that these false teachers were spreading, but it is apparent from John’s writing that their teaching somehow denied the truth of the incarnation—that […]

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Jael: An Example of Christian Warfare

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]

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Indiana Mini Convention Review 2021

One of this year’s “mini conventions” was hosted by Grace and Grandville Protestant Reformed Churches at Quaker Haven Camp. Located just over two hours away in northern Indiana, the camp was a perfect fit for the 120 kids and 15 chaperones who attended. A total of twelve different churches were represented: Byron Center, Faith, First […]

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]

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Tennessee Young People’s Retreat 2021

The 2021 Tennessee young people’s retreat was held August 9 to 13 by Providence, Hudsonville, Unity, and First (Holland) Protestant Reformed Churches. The retreat took place at Eagle Rock Retreat Center in the city of Tallassee. It was about an eleven-hour drive, give or take a bit due to stops for food and restrooms. Though […]

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