Monday, December 26, 2022

Beginning Again

At the stroke of midnight on December 31st one year ends and then one second after midnight a new year begins. Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City’s Times Square at the stroke of midnight. Millions of people around the world watch the event, which has taken place almost every year since 1907. Over time, the ball itself has ballooned from a 700-pound iron-and-wood orb to a brightly patterned sphere 12 feet in diameter and weighing in at nearly 12,000 pounds. For many, celebrating New Years is similar to one celebrating their birthday. Like a birthday, for many, New Year’s Day provides the chance to celebrate having made it through another year. However, for many, New Years day means a new beginning. We see this played out through the many resolutions that people make on New Years.

A New Year's resolution is basically a decision to do or not do something in order to accomplish a personal goal or break a habit. It comes at a time when people look back at the past year and make an effort to improve themselves as the new year begins. Unfortunately, statistics reveal that only 8% of people who make New Years resolutions succeed in keeping them. This means that 92% of all New Years resolutions fail. Why? Mostly, people make unrealistic resolutions and or they are not really prepared mentally to fight off doubt and continue with their goals. But what about believers? Should they make New Years resolutions? There is certainly nothing wrong with making New Years resolutions, but the same conditions that bring failure still exist, unless believers put their trust fully in the Lord.

The Bible tells us, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6) Even the Apostle Paul learned a lesson of trusting the Lord in a greater way while he was being buffeted by a messenger of Satan. The Lord revealed to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12: 9) Paul's response is quite interesting, "Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10)

All believers, like the Apostle Paul must rely upon God's grace to get them through every area of life not only New Years resolutions. Grace is defined in Philippians 2:13 (AMPC) "[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight." And in Ephesians 3:20 (AMPC) "Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]" in a condensed way, God's grace is the power, strength, ability and energy of God at work in the believer to accomplish His will.

Another area to consider is understanding who believers are in Christ. When believers come to a full knowledge of no longer being identified with who they were before they were born again and know who they are in Christ, then they will understand what Jesus meant when He said, "nothing is impossible to those who believe." (Mark 9:23) Knowing who one truly is in Christ sets believers free from shame, condemnation, guilt and inferiority. They will walk in a freedom that will cause them to not simply make a resolution(s) but find the grace and power in God's Word to overcome and live victorious. For instance, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ.." (2 Corinthians 5:17-18) The old nature, the old person that you were prior to your salvation is gone. You have been made completely new in Christ and have right standing with God. (Keep in mind that it is one's spirit, not their soul, ie, mind, will and emotions, and not their body that has been recreated)    

Finally, you must have and use your own faith. What does this mean? All believers one day must come to the place where their own faith has grown and has brought them to know without doubt, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." (1 John 5:14-15) This is actually a realm of Christianity that few believers come to. Not because they do not desire to have this level of faith, but, it is mostly due to a lack of studying and meditating on God's Word which builds the believers faith and renews their mind. (Romans 10:17, 12:2)

When believers apply these things in their life it will change their behavior and thought patterns which in turn will cause them to accomplish their personal goals, but moreover the goals and or vision that the LORD has given. These things are not self imposed, but Holy Spirit inspired. The apostle Paul tells us to, "...Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16) So, you see we do not have to make New Year resolutions to only have them fail. We can live in the power and ability of God everyday through faith in Jesus Christ to overcome every obstacle of life and do the impossible where others may fail. So this New Years, do not make a New Years resolution per se, but, "...lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of you." (Philippians 3:12) My prayer for you, as the Apostle John said, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers" (3 John 2) HAPPY NEW YEAR...  

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