I think you would agree, there is something quite special about the gift of new beginnings God gives to us. Of course, each day is a new beginning where God gives to us the opportunity to live life in a way that brings greater glory to Him than we did the day before. God also gives us a variety of new beginnings contained within each new day:
- A new goal
- A new vision
- A new calling
- A new address
- A new friendship
- A new relationship
- A new opportunity
- A new possibility
- A new year
We are standing at the threshold of yet another new year. 2017 has run its course and come to an end, and 2018 is calling us forward. So here is a great question to ponder as you get ready to launch out into another year of life: how will this year be better than last year? The answer is quite simple: it will better because you have chosen to be a better you, growing more and more into the person God is calling you to be.
For far too many, the disappointments from the past year carry over into the new year, casting a shadow over all that God is calling them to do for His glory. Does this resonate with you? When you look back over the past twelve months, do you see a past littered with disappointment? If we are honest, we can all look back and see portions of our lives that did not turn out as we planned. We see the times we fell short. We see the times we failed. We see the times we stopped short of the finish line. Because this is simply a fact of life, living as broken people in a broken world, we must keep the gospel before us each and every day. The truth of the gospel frees us from our past, regardless of how broken it is. “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me” (Psalm 138:7). The gospel frees us to fight, fall and fail because the God of the gospel is both for us and forgiving.
Jesus did not raise you from death to life to live a perfect life. He raised you from death to life to live a promised life. “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). You see, Jesus has promised to get you home, safely and securely, regardless of how many mistakes you make along the way. The past was never meant to define your present and has no power in determining your promised future. Only those who give power to their past and allow their past to imprison them find themselves being defined by it. But this is not for you.
The truth of the gospel will encourage, equip and empower you to live your Christian life “on earth as it is in heaven” in 2018. Let me challenge you to think about the first four words in the Bible, “In the beginning God…” and keep that thought before you throughout this year. Because God is a God of new beginnings, not only is this the beginning of a new year for you, this is the beginning of a new life for you. But this will not just happen. God is calling you to participate proactively in your plan in order to produce a new life. I never met anyone who planned to fail, but I have met far too many who have failed to plan. So what’s your game plan for this new year and a you new? Remember, insanity is defined as, “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Now I know this resonates a bit with all of us. The psalmist provides many keys in putting together an effective and empowering game plan that will impact your life and the lives of all those you impact this new year.
Key #1 ~ Seek your Savior whole-heartedly
“With my whole heart I seek you” (Psalm 119:10). Not a quarter of a heart, not a half of a heart, not three quarters of a heart, but seek the Lord with your whole heart.
Key #2 ~ Store up sacred Scripture whole-heartedly
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). If you had a sickness and the medicine to cure it would you take it? Of course you would. Well, we all have the same sickness (sinful, self-centered and self-absorbed hearts), and we all have the medicine to cure our sickness. The more we get into the Word of God, the more the Word of God gets into us. And the more we are filled with the Word of God, the less we are full of ourselves.
Key #3 ~ Serve your Savior whole-heartedly
“Deal bountifully with your servant” (Psalm 119:17). The psalmist asked for blessings from God because he was a servant of God. We cannot expect God’s blessings when we are busily engaged in serving ourselves and satisfying our own selfish ambitions.
So, in the beginning of this new year, as you get ready to hit the ground running, remember the three keys to putting together an effective and eternal game plan: Seek God, Store Up His Word and Serve Him only. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and in the beginning of this new year, God is committed to creating a new you. Praying God’s special blessing and anointing upon you throughout 2018.
This is the gospel. This is grace for your race. Never forget that… Amen!
Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach. He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com .