Well, a new year is upon us and we are anxiously anticipating all that God is going to be doing in 2011 here at Central Assembly. I can tell you that I am personally excited for some of the doors and opportunities that God is already opening for his people this year in regards to answered prayer, direction and vision for what is coming. God is at work in this valley and this church and it is exciting to be a part of it. I hope all of you will join in that journey for 2011. This month we have started a new sermon series titled “Fresh Start” and I wanted to tie into that idea this week for my first devotional of the new year. All of us love the idea of being given a fresh start. For many of us we wish we could go back and remake a few decisions in our lives or be given the opportunity to have a fresh start in other areas of our lives but unfortunately we cannot go back and erase the past. BUT we can, however look forward to the future and have a fresh start in our lives whenever we choose to put the past behind us and move forward in a new direction. The point being that we have to choose.
1 Peter 1:23-25 reads; “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.
The changing of a new year is such an amazing time. There is a freshness and newness like no other time of year. Often the mistakes of the previous year don’t seem to hang as heavy as we hope in what a fresh start and a new year can bring to us. We begin to see spring coming as the days get longer and we feel a sense of newness and hope as the evidences of life begin to show in the world around us, as the snow disappears and the grass reappears. Come January we see hope in the possibility of a restart and opportunity to do things different this year..
Many view New Years or Spring as a time when we see the beginning of new things. Many people see it as a new starting point for their lives. It’s as if we see the earth being reborn around us and say to ourselves that we can be part of it. We want to have the opportunity to start over with a clean slate and live life to the full. But a lot of us are just looking for Jesus and we don’t even realize it. It is through him that we have been reborn; it is through him that we have been given life; it is through him that we have the opportunity to shed off the old life and take on the new.
Come New Years, I think of my life in Christ and the rebirth that has taken place because of my relationship with Him. If we have accepted Christ for who he is, the son of the living God, and we have asked him to be Lord of our lives and to forgive our sins, we are born again. Christ tells us this in his conversation with Nicademas where he says that no one can enter the kingdom of heaven unless he is born again. We are born into a new life with Christ, one in which we can go to him with all of our cares and concerns, and one in which we seek to follow what he has asked of us out of a love for Him.
We have been given the ultimate fresh start and we don’t have to wait until January 1st every year to have it. For 2011 I want to encourage all of you to see every day as just one more fresh start that you have been given. We are so undeserving of God’s wonderful grace and yet the Bible says that His mercies are new every morning. Praise God! We don’t have to be superhuman perfect people. Instead God is simply calling us to obey and be true to Him. Believe and have faith in what he can and will do in your life. But as I pointed out previously the choice is ours. We have to choose to follow Christ or a way of our own choosing.
This last Sunday pastor Ted and Linda shared the story of Jonah. Jonah decided to go the way of his choosing and the cost was great with the potential of it being downright tragic. His choice put peoples physical lives in danger. But more than that he put the spiritual lives of the people in Nineveh in danger as well; which is a far greater tragedy. Had Jonah simply listened and obeyed what God was calling him to do, time, resources, energy, and the danger both physically and spiritually to others could have been avoided.
So this new year as you are hoping for change and the promise of a better year than 2010, put your hope in Christ and look to him in all things. I promise you that the more you learn to listen, trust and obey Christ the less heartache, dissatisfaction, and despair you will face in 2011. Remember God is for you, who can be against you.