Alfred Tennyson said. “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come. . .” What a word picture! Do you stand at the brink of this new year wishing all things could be new for you, looking with hope towards this new year?
It is true, many people celebrate the New Year with a sigh of relief concerning things difficult, painful and troublesome that occurred in the old year with an expectation of better things to come in the New Year. Each New Year brings with it the promise of a fresh start, and new blessings.
God is a fan of “new!”
New means something that is just brought into existence, or something that is different from the old, or former things.
The term “new” is used approximately 131 times in the Old Testament and 54 times in the New Testament. God talks about all types of new things: a new name (Is. 62:2; Rev.2:17); a new song (Is. 42:10; Ps. 40:3); a new covenant (Jer. 31:31; 1 Cor. 11:25); a new commandment (John 13:34); a new birth (1 Peter 1:3); a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26); a new man (2 Cor. 5:17); a new life (Rom. 6:4); a new attitude, and a new self (Eph. 4:23-24).
The thought of ushering in a new year with God holds promise for real change.
All newness begins in God, because it is He who makes all things new (Rev. 21:5), including you and me.
Most people approach the New Year with the thought of change; of some-how making things different, better or new. Many people make resolutions – a list of things they want/need to change; things they want to add to their life; things they want to re-new or re-do.
A resolution is a resolve, a firm decision to do something that you were not doing. A resolution is a statement, a plan for change.
Is there anything you need to change, or want to change? (Maybe you want to change an attitude about life, or about someone; a habit that is harmful to your physical or mental health; a pattern of hurtful interactions within your relationships; a mindset of being critical and negative; a prideful or self-sufficient spirit; or _______________ (you fill it in).
A Resolution by Any Other Name Is…
Believe it or not, changing our mind or renewing our mind is repentance! In the New Testament of the Bible, repent comes from the Greek word metanoia which means a change of mind; a change in the inner man; a change of thinking and of purpose. In the Old Testament repentance is the concept of turning to God and away from sinful ways.
Repentance involves a turning away from our “selves” and our ways, and a turning to God.
Acts 17:30 describes repentance in a very clear way:
“God overlooked the times when people didn’t know any better. But now He commands everyone everywhere to turn to Him and change the way they think and act.”
Repentance is a word that some modern thinkers find repugnant or old fashioned. Yet to change how we think and act is the very definition of repentance.
The New Year is a time when we think of change. Resolutions are resolves and plans to repent and change.
Renewal Begins in Our Mind
In truth, God calls us to change all the time. God is all about change.
In Romans 12:2, God speaks to us about change and renewal:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed (changed) by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
In other words, do not remain molded to your old, ineffective ways of thinking about your life and then acting, but allow your way of thinking to be changed.
Part B of this verse indicates that the renewing of our mind involves the will of God. It involves learning how to think about life and our selves the way God sees us; the way God wants.
Renewing our mind in this manner involves the Word of God. God’s will is in His Word, the Bible. Make a resolve to read the Word of God every day, so that you can know the will of God and begin to change, to have your “self” and your life transformed.
Change Is Refreshing
As we read through to the end of this verse we see that such a renewing by changing our mind produces something good and pleasing. Isn’t this the main idea of why we want to change certain things in ourselves and our lives?
Such change or repentance leads to inner peace, contentment, strength and refreshing, that comes from the presence of God in our life as indicated in Acts 3:19.
“Now change your mind and attitude to God and turn to Him so He can cleanse away your sins and send you wonderful times of refreshment from the presence of the Lord.”
God, Our Power to Change
There have been years I have made resolutions concerning things I wanted to change and things I needed to change, yet within 3 months of those resolutions I gave up.
You may say well you didn’t have the right plan; or you did not persevere; or you did not have the encouragement from others to change. Possibly all those are true, but the truth is I tried to do them in my own strength.
Change is hard. It is a process that occurs overtime. It does require perseverance, self-discipline and support from others; but, it also requires the acknowledgement of the active presence of God in our lives and the turning to Him. Turning away from our “self,” our thinking, and turning to God is not a one-time event, it is a daily, even hourly, act of trust and reliance on God, His love and His power.
God is the champion of change and He provides what we need to change.
2 Corinthians 3:18 clearly describes this process:
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
The English Standard version of this verse indicates that with the help of God we are being changed to be like Him, to have His heart and His character degree by degree. This is a truth.
The fact is that God is working in me, that I am not left to make these changes on my own, and, that I am not expected to change overnight, gives me hope. God’s life giving and life changing power are working with me, in me and for me.
So, I urge you to re-think your resolutions this year. Bring God into your resolutions! Renew your mind, and turn to God to be transformed. Remember these changes are a part of our walk with God. We may fail at times, but He will not fail us.
“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
P.S. A friend of mine recently published a book about chances for change. The title of this book is “Every Day Is A New Chance” by Jeanie Shaw. It is published by Illumination Publishers.