Saturday, December 30, 2023

New Year, New Hope

New Year's Day is observed on January 1st, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar. New Year's Day is probably the most celebrated public holiday throughout the world. It is often observed with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts in each time zone. Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on the evening of December 31st, New Year’s Eve, and continue into the early hours of January 1st, New Year’s Day. Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, and watching fireworks displays. 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.

Another tradition that has emerged from the celebration of New Years is making what is called "New Year Resolution(s)." A New Year resolution is a tradition described as a person making a promise to do an act of self-improvement in ones life. Although New Year resolutions are numerous, the ones on the top of most lists are, improve physical well-being; lose weight; exercise more; eat better; quit smoking; get out of debt, save money; volunteer to help others; spend quality time with family members; be closer to God; be more spiritual. Basically, people are looking at making a new start, establishing a new beginning. Although the thought behind a New Year resolution is somewhat commendable, according to statistics, only eight percent of New Year resolutions made are accomplished.

In the list above the last two resolutions mentioned are what all believers should not only consider as a New year resolution, but make them a daily lifestyle. The Apostle James tells us, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you..." (James 4:8) The believers greatest desire should no doubt be to to have a close intimate relationship with God, daily. The Apostle Paul exhorts us a number of times to "Know or have the knowledge of God." "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." (Colossians 1:9) "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him." (Ephesians 1:17) In the John 17 prayer, Jesus says, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:3)    

Not only should believers have a desire to "know" the Lord, but they should act upon it. The prophet Hosea tells us, "My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me." (Hosea 4:6 NLT) Many believers today are dealing with issues that are not from God, but from Satan such as poverty, sickness, inability to break free of ungodly habits and sin, simply because they do not know the Lord. The word "know" and "knowledge" are defined as having intimate, complete, full, precise, correct knowledge. God has given us His Word, the Bible, for that purpose. He has made Himself known to humanity through His Word. It is unfortunate though, that most believers are limited in their knowledge of God. Notice, that the Apostle Paul tells us, "that you may be filled with the knowledge (precise and correct knowledge) of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." (Colossians 1:9)            

We are to have intimate knowledge of God not by-way-of intellectual or theoretical knowledge, but in all spiritual knowledge. It is the knowledge of God that is revealed to the recreated spirit, not the mind. Spiritual knowledge is what sets to flight all the erroneous doctrines created by the intellect that contradict God's Word. Spiritual knowledge builds ones faith (Romans 10:17) and connects us to God in the spirit. Jesus tells us, "For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24) which means, we can only connect with God through the recreated spirit. All the intellectual knowledge that one can gather, will not connect us in an intimate way with God. Jesus also tells us, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63)  

So, this New Years, let us not make a resolution to be closer to God or be more spiritual and then let it fall away in a short period of time, but let us permit the grace of God to work in our lives daily giving us the strength and ability to know Him. The Apostle Paul reveals his desire to know Jesus in an intimate way when he said, "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:7-11)

May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you all throughout this new year. May 2024 be a year of knowing God in such an intimate way that our lives "are being transformed into the image of Christ from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:18) Have a wonderful, healthy, prosperous and fruitful New Year for His glory...

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