Fresh Start (published in print 12/29/13)

There’s something about a new year.  It’s a time to start over.  Every year, scores of people wake up on January 1st with high hopes for change in their lives.  Resolutions, from one to many, are posted in various places to remind them of the changes they want to make.  Unfortunately, for most of us, our resolute nature rarely lasts very far into the month of January, let alone the year.

As we face this new year, with its opportunities and challenges, how can we hold fast to our hopes and wishes?  The main question is how you did you make your resolutions.  What things do you want to do?  Have you prayed about your choices, asking God what His plan for your year might be?  We all have hopes, but we need to take time to seek God’s will for our lives. 

Second, it is important to realize that every journey is a compilation of many small steps.  Once you have decided on a resolution, it is best to break down your goal into smaller steps.  Wanting to lose weight?  Setting goals at increments of 5 or 10 pounds at a time will make your goals seem more achievable. 

Third, while you shouldn’t plan for setbacks or failure, you should understand that problems do occur from time to time.  You might have a bad diet day or have to spend some of that money you were trying to save, but don’t let momentary problems cause you to give up on your goals. 

Another suggestion is to find someone to help you on your resolution project.   We are reminded of this in Ecclesiastes.  “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up” (3:9-10).  Find an accountability partner, someone who can help you when you are falling down or who can encourage you when you are ready to give up. 

Most importantly, remember that you are not perfect.  Whatever your goals or resolutions, you will most likely find yourself missing the mark.  The apostle Paul knew about that.  “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  No matter how hard we try, we do fall short of God’s plan for our lives.  In those moments it is imperative to remember that our value isn’t found in what we do, but in what Christ did for us.  “And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (v. 24).

Paul also knew about frustration.  He struggled with his tendency to do the things that he didn’t want to do but reminded himself that it isn’t in his own strength that he would overcome, but I the grace that comes from God.

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:21-25).

By the time you read this article you may have already broken a few of your resolutions, or you might still be holding strong and making changes.  Whatever the case, remember that every minute you breathe and every morning you wake the mercies of the Lord are new once again.  The old adage from the 60s and 70s—Today is the first day of the rest of your life—is true, you know!  No matter how many times you fall short, or how long you succeed, each moment is a new opportunity to overcome with the help of Christ.  Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Do you have a home church?  Have you found a place to worship with like-minded believers? Visit us at Ebenezer Presbyterian.  We have a place for you every Sunday at 11 a.m.

Blessings!

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