New Year 2003

New Year’s Day arrives with many traditions like football games, viagra prescription parades, patient and forgettable parties.   It also marks the day we do our best to make a quick review of the way we lived our lives during the past year.   We usually make New Year’s resolutions, announcing either to others or ourselves the changes we will bring forth.   By February, though, these resolutions have, for the most part, gone by the way side.   And by March we are back to our old pattern of living.

The reason for this inability to change is power.   Most of us do not have the power to change our own lives for any length of time.    The Bible, which is God’s written Word, agrees with our assessment.   It tells us that we cannot change unless we make a huge resolution; and that is the decision we need to make about Jesus Christ.   The Bible tells us that if we repent of our sins (abandoning our own lordship) and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (asking Him to take over the lordship of our life) we will have the power to make change.  This personal decision invites the presence of God, and with that presence comes His power and gifts to make lasting change.

Below are some key Bible Scriptures that guide in making this huge resolution.

Luke 9: 23-25 23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  24      “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.  25  “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?

John 6:28-29 28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

John 7: 38-39 38  “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ 39        But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Here are the gifts from God you receive when you make that decision for Christ.  This is what I call the lopsided Christmas.  In exchange for your gift (giving up your lordship for His), you get these from God.

  1. You are in God’s family and are considered a close friend. (John 1:12 and John 15:15)
  2. You receive justification; from God’s point of view He holds nothing against you.  (Romans 5:1)
  3. You are united with God through the Spirit.   You are on the same team with Him and all other believers. (I Cor. 6:17)
  4. You belong to God; no one can separate you from Him.  (I Cor. 6:20)
  5. You are a member of His church.    Your membership is set when you believe in Him. You don’t have to take any classes.   (I Cor. 12:27)
  6. You are a saint.   Do not hesitate to refer to yourself as one; you were canonized when you received Christ.  (Ephesians 1:1)
  7. You have direct access to God via the Holy Spirit.   You do not need a go-between to talk with God.  (Ephesians 2:18)
  8. All of your sins have been forgiven (past, present, and future).(Colossians 1:14)
  9. You are complete in Christ.  Even though you may still fall short while on earth, He will make up for every fall you make. (Colossians 2:10)
  10. You will not be condemned for you sins.   God recognizes that you will sin, and He is committed to helping you sin less.    He will not hold your sins against you when judgment comes; He paid for them on the cross. (Romans 8:1)
  11. God will work everything in your favor, even the disappointments and setbacks.  He does this because He loves you so much. (Romans 8:28)
  12. You will never be able to be separated from the love of God.   He loves you just as much when you obey Him as when you revert back to old practices of sin. (Romans 8:35)
  13. You are anointed by God because you are very special to Him.   He will never cease to establish you. (2 Cor.; 1:21)
  14. God will continue to work His plan in you.   You were created from the beginning to accomplish many things for Him, ministries and effects no one else was created to do. He will help you, if you let Him. (Philippians 1:6)
  15. You are a citizen in heaven.   It does not matter where you live on this earth today; you belong in heaven, an unbelievable community.(Philippians 3:20)
  16. You have been given a spirit of courage; the unusual strength to live in a world that subsists in fear. (2 Timothy 1:7)
  17. You have been given the power to battle evil.  Through faith in God, you will not be defeated (I John 5:18)
  18. You are the salt of the earth, someone God sees as essential to His salvation plan for this entire world. (Matthew 5:13)
  19. You have been chosen to be His channel to this world.   The presence of God runs through your spiritual veins. (John 15:1,5,16)
  20. You are now God’s temple on earth.    Just as God used the temple to minister to Israel, He now resides in you to minister to the world.(I Cor. 3:16)
  21. You are God’s co-worker.   You are His partner on earth. (2 Cor. 6:1)
  22. You are God’s workmanship.   In addition to being created in His image, you are His beautiful piece of art and something God wants the whole world to see. (Ephesians 2:10)
  23. You have been given the power of faith to do all things for Him.   There really is nothing you cannot do, if God so wills (Philippians 4:13)

Teachable Moment

During your celebration at New Years, gather your family together for a time of reflection.    Encourage your children to write down the changes they would like to make in the coming year.    It is very important that you tell them about the changes you would also like to make in your own life for the year.    Then take them to the garage where you have parked the family car.    Ask them to make an effort to move the car out of the garage.   When they ask for the key to start the engine, refuse their request.    Tell them they will have to move it without the key.   Hopefully they will object and say, “This car can’t be moved out of the garage without the engine being turned on by the key.” They may proclaim, “Where will the power come from to move the car?”    Applaud them for their insight, and review with them that a car cannot be turned on, put in gear, or moved, unless there is a key.   The application of this illustration is two-fold.   First, the key represents the biggest change that can ever be made, which is receiving Jesus’ offer of salvation. When a man, woman, or child accepts Christ, it is like turning on the key to his/her spiritual engine.  The second application refers to the Christian.   Since your spiritual engine is already turned on and running, changes can begin by putting your consecrated vehicle on the road and letting it go as far as it can during its lifespan.  This “gearing up” is when you pray and press the faith gas pedal, willing to go wherever God leads.  It means traveling down impossible roads for Him. In a car are many tools (spare tires, flashlights, survival food, chains, sun shades, etc), these are akin to the gifts and promises God gives you to accomplish your travels for Him.   The twenty-three gifts in this article are just a few of the spiritual tools God packs in your car.

Happy New Year! If you make the changes God has planned you will go far!