Amazingly, it’s that time. A new year is approaching right on schedule — again. This is the time of year so many of us start making resolutions to change a certain area, or multiple areas in our lives. Maybe we have some extra pounds to shed. We might be committed to changing a specific, harmful behavior. New Year’s resolutions range from simple desires to seemingly full-proof-plans for extensive life change. What we all have in common is the hope that something will change, and life will be different (and better) in the year ahead.
Every year, people ring in the New Year with goals to live differently on some level. However, a few short weeks later, many of these very same well-wishers end up discouraged and filled with shame and remorse over their failed attempts to make their resolutions come to pass. Who knows? This may be the second, third, fourth, or 15th year someone has tried to “kick the habit.” After so many misguided attempts, why would they even want to try again?
That’s a good question. First consider a few additional questions…
- What if every spring, the flowers just gave up on blooming?
- What if the local birds that have migrated to some faraway place just decided to stay put on that tropical island?
- What if the sun chose to hide behind the clouds all summer long?
- Worse yet: what if Christ had not come to earth as a baby or hadn’t risen from the dead?
I don’t know about you, but I love fragrant flowers, sweet singing birds are pretty nice, and, oh, how I love that summer sun smiling down on me! But the thought of Christ not defeating death is downright terrifying. Without his resurrection power, we really would have no hope for permanent life change — ever.
However, He was born. He died. And he most definitely did rise again.
That means this year, this month, today, or even this moment, is filled with hope for a better future — in him. We don’t have to white-knuckle it anymore. Whatever your “it” might be, you too can turn from your sin, and release it into the capable hands of the ultimate Life-Changer.
When we desire change, we have the perfect example to follow: Jesus Christ. When we are ready to implement change, we have the perfect guide book: His Word. Finally, we have the perfect companion to strengthen our resolve: his Spirit.
As we pursue change God’s way, hope for a better future is no longer a dream; it becomes our reality. We truly can experience freedom in our lives today, tomorrow, and forever. With Christ, we don’t have to wait for another New Year to roll around, or for the big glittery ball to drop in Times Square. His mercy is new every morning. We can pursue our own new beginning right now.
FREEDOM is an acronym that will assist you as you start your new journey. For it is in our relationship with a loving, redeeming God, where we will find the freedom we so desperately yearn for.
Follow him forward:
"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus…" (Romans 15:5).
We are to follow Christ. As we pursue him and seek to imitate his ways, we move forward in our process of change. No more slip-sliding backwards. When we truly follow Jesus, we are on the path that moves forward and upward, one prayer at a time.
"But if they repent of their wicked lives, I will think twice and start over with them" (Jeremiah 18:9, MSG).
When we repent, God will start over with us. A new beginning… exactly what we are seeking. When we admit and repent of our shortcomings, and sinfulness, God is faithful to forgive and make us white like snow. Clean. Fresh. New. Don’t wait another moment — repent.
"Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere" (Ephesians 6:18, NLT).
Prayers are incredibly powerful. They are the foundation for any life change we desire. As we earnestly pray, we will find ourselves empowered by the one true source of power. There is no better time to pray than right now. Let us pray persistently, remaining alert, and consider our Christian brothers and sisters everywhere. After all, we are on this journey together.
Enjoy the journey:
"Then Hannah prayed: 'My heart rejoices in the Lord! Oh, how the Lord has blessed me! Now I have an answer for my enemies, as I delight in your deliverance'" (1 Samuel 2:1, NLT).
As we travel down the road of renewal, receiving answers from God along the way, we will have a number of reasons to rejoice. Many times we are so focused on the destination, that we forget to enjoy the journey. When we take a road trip, even though the driving might be daunting, dangerous, or just plain boring, if we take the time to truly see the unique beauty of the surrounding landscape, we may discover the journey can be enjoyed almost as much as the destination. Enjoy God’s journey. He has planned a perfect path just for you.
Devour His Word:
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).
God’s Word is the ultimate food for our thoughts, nourishment for our souls, and the map we must follow on our journey down the path of new beginnings. We know when our stomach growls, it is a signal for us to nourish our body with food. So it is when our spirit's “growl,” we need to dive into God’s truth and devour his Words like the sustaining substance they were created to be.
Open your heart and mind to his truth
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5).
In order to grasp God’s truth, we need to pray for an open heart and an open mind, in order to better receive the truth, know the truth, and obey the truth when we hear it. Be prepared to hear the Lord speak. He will.
Make new friends and move mountains:
"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:12-13).
As we walk in godly love for one another, by forgiving, encouraging, and helping, we will find the strength to do what one person alone could never, ever accomplish. We need the Spirit’s empowerment, and the encouragement we gain from each other. Together, we can move mountains! Often, our new beginning and long sought-after freedom rests just on the other side of the highest peek. But together, we can make it through the roughest terrain. We were never meant to “go it” alone. Jesus had 12 disciples. He knew the value of loving and supporting relationships. Let us learn from his example.
As we’ve discovered, change can be challenging, but this New Year, as we journey together down the road to freedom, let’s stay focused on the One guiding us: Christ.
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! And happy new beginnings!