New Year, New Opportunity

January 16, 2016

I pray your new year is going well. How are your new year’s resolutions playing out? Are you following through on new promises and new ways?
As usual each and every New Year, I get excited about my bible reading plan. My goal every year is to read through the bible. I want to know God so much that I can start to look a little like the Savior while representing him to a world that desperately needs his mercy and grace. I think that’s a good desire. Not being who I was, but being more like Jesus. Being far from fulfilling that desire does not mean it’s not worth my efforts
I say that because every year as a Christian I make promises to God, to love him and to care for his Kingdom advancement and yet each year I still fail to fulfill my promises. Did you make any promises to God last year that you failed to keep? I failed, but that does not make me a failure.
Today I am no longer a failure because Jesus was a success for me. Because God accepts me each New Year provides new opportunities for me to press in to Jesus so that he can change me. Do you want to go another year and see no significant change in your life?
I came to realize some 20 plus years ago I can’t change myself. I do know that the living presence of the Holy Spirit can change me as I am transformed by his word, and a community that helps me. I was not born again to live independently of the local church
I’m so glad that God has NEVER failed in ONE promise to me. That’s why I read the bible. It keeps me humble. It keeps me needy for God’s mercy and makes me thankful for his ongoing grace. Without them, I would be the basket case I sometimes look like.
Where would we be without this promise, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23).
I believe the bible is not only the greatest story ever told (all about redemption/rescue) but also the most powerful tool to radical change. So many people want a new start or to be different this year, but don’t have the tools to complete the task. That’s why we must be born again. Are you really born again?
The bible tells us when we come to Jesus we become “new” creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). That means I become alive spiritually. The bible tells us that prior to making a decision to trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior I was “dead’ spiritually (Eph 2:1) even thou I was alive physically.
The better news is that when we become born again, our whole being internally and externally changes. I’m not saying you become perfect, but that you are never the same ever again. How can the Holy Spirit live inside of you and there be no ongoing change?
The word of God is powerful enough to make the worst sinner the greatest saint.
Titus 2:11+12 tells us that “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Tit 2:11-12). Two things are mentioned in this verse. They are very important for you and I to see as we start this New Year. First Gods grace trains us to put off old ungodly ways, and second we start to live in a new way, under control, and godly.

Do you have new ambitions? Do you live your life with the hope of pleasing God rather than your fellow man? How do you emote? Have you gotten to the place that things said about God and people in a demeaning way are offensive? Do you desire what God desires…your holiness? How about your thoughts? Do you ever wake up or go through the day and one of Gods promises or commands floats in your mind, convicting or encouraging you of something God wants you to do? And what about your will? Has it been remolded by Gods word to do what he wants you to start doing, without complaining (Phil 2:14). To be born again means you are different NOT perfect! Are you any different in those areas with God?
We can change morally while still having no spiritual desires. The great hymn writer Augustus Toplady once said “a man may reform without true repentance, though no man can truly repent without moral reformation. Reformation white washes the house; regeneration takes the house to pieces and rebuilds it from the ground. Reformation varnishes the outside of the vessel; regeneration melts the vessel down, and casts it into a new mold”.
Which person are you? The one who looks good on the outside but is no different inwardly? The one trying to white wash and varnish or the one who is in a new mold, Jesus Christ!
That’s why repentance and trust alone in Jesus is absolutely necessary for change. Whoever believes (trusts, puts their sole confidence in, relies completely upon) in the Son (Jesus) has eternal life; whoever does not obey (the byproduct of true faith) the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him (Joh 3:36).
We finish a four part series this week “Fan or Follower. I invite you to our church, Redemption Fellowship Church this Sunday at 10:15 AM on 385 Pleasant Street. Hope to meet you!!