New Year New Me
And he who was seated on the throne said,
“Behold, I am making all things new.”
Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
We've all heard them, and probably even said them. The catch phrases of the New Year.
"New Year New Me"
"This is going to be MY year".
"I resolve to"
These are certainly healthy mindsets. After all, they say that a positive attitude shapes how we view life and circumstances. And certainly, setting goals helps us to strive towards continuous improvement.
But I was stopped in my tracks on New Year's Day when I read from a new devotional, Fixing My Eyes on Jesus, by Anne Graham Lotz, where she describes attending an event where the speaker asked those in the audience what they thought God expected from them. Anne thought to herself, "righteousness", "holiness", "love for neighbor and God", "Bible reading", "prayer", "service" and "obedience". Anne then shared that the speaker said something shocking - "All God expects from you is failure." I shared in Anne's stunned amazement. Anne stated that she wanted to raise her hand wildly and say, "I can do that!" "I can live up to God's expectation!". lol.
Because let's face it, most people won't make New Year's Resolutions because they know they will fail within the first week or two.
My supervisor at work gave me a book for Christmas called, The Power of Moments, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. It's actually a very interesting read about what causes memorable moments in our lives. In the section regarding life's "landmark" moments, the authors stated that we have a natural hunger for these landmarks in time, specifically mentioning New Year's Resolutions. The author's quoted Katherine Milkman who said, "at the start of the New Year, we feel like we have a clean slate. It's the 'fresh start effect'... all of my past failures are from last year and I can think, "Those are not me. That's old me. That's not new me. New me isn't going to make mistakes."
But to "God's point", the Apostle Paul stated the following:
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh;
for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
And we certainly know this to be true...
But does that mean we just give up?
The Apostle Paul continues...
Wretched man that I am!
Who will set me free from the body of this death?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Anne didn't end the devotion with the speaker's stunning proclamation. She continued by saying that he went on to say "But He has given you the Holy Spirit so that you need never fail."
Does this mean because we have the Holy Spirit we will never fail? Not at all. What it does mean is that we have a God who is compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love.
I recently read through the Book of Exodus and was so struck by God's incredible patience with Moses, Aaron and the Israelites - time, after time, after time... Talk about a God of second chances!! Wow! That kind of patience can only come from Everlasting Love!
For those of us who acknowledge that Jesus death on the cross has satisfied the punishment for our sins and failings, and that our sins have been removed as far as the East is from the West, need not be discouraged when we do fail because we have been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. When God looks at us, He sees Jesus righteousness.
Does this mean we accept our sinfulness and failings? I join with the Apostle Paul and say, "May it never be!!"
Instead, we don't let our sins and failings cause us to spiral nor do we accept that this as our lot in life.
...but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
As Believers, we don't need to wait for the New Year for a "new me". Instead, we have the Holy Spirit to daily teach and RE-new us. We need only to ask...
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in My name,
He will teach you all things,
and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
Instead of waiting for January 1st to proclaim "New Year New Me", every hour of every day pray "Lord, RE-new me."
Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.
and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
to be renewed in the spirit of your minds;
and to put on the new self,
created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
May you walk in that freedom as you enter 2018 and throughout the year.
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