A message from Pastor John Poitevent of the Road to Freedom program:
It’s that time of year again, when many of us feel a sense of hope for new beginnings. It’s also very easy to become cynical about it all. We know that in the past we’ve set goals and failed. Two weeks into the new year we’ve broken every resolution: we’re behind on our Bible reading, breaking our diet and still have not made it to the gym. A funny tweet posted the last week of December read, “According to my 2013 New Year’s resolution, I have 72 hours to lose 30 pounds, learn to speak Spanish and play the banjo.”
I want to encourage you to not give up hope in starting over, pursuing new possibilities, or reattempting resolutions you’ve set in the past. If there is one thing that the gospel teaches us, it’s that God LOVES new beginnings! We can even see it in creation: He gives us a sunrise to start each new day and His natural calendar gives us changing seasons that display growth, life, death and rebirth. But most of all, we have to remember the new beginning He has given us in Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
What many of us struggle believing is that God wants to continue giving us second chances and new beginnings once we have put our faith in Christ. We know that we are forgiven of our sinful past, but what about our present sins and failures? You may remember this verse that is also used in the classic hymn, “Great is They Faithfulness.”
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
He is faithful, even when we are faithless! (2 Timothy 2:13). His grace is for today! And He wants us to know His unconditional love that compels us to begin again and again.
Patiently, gently and kindly He leads us on. Even though this process of transformation is something that we have a part in, it’s not our own efforts that make us grow. However, it is often through our choices that we position ourselves to encounter God in a way that He changes us. We do the possible and He does the impossible. Through His Word, His presence and His people, He transforms.
In light of this truth, I encourage you to make a resolution. I simply want you to resolve to do something everyday that will lead you to encountering God. Here are seven common practices that can have profound results:
- Pray (Ephesians 6:18)
- Be thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
- Worship with song (Psalm 95)
- Read God’s Word (Romans 10:17)
- Listen for God’s voice & journal (John 18:37)
- Surrender (Romans 12:1-2)
- Seek out other believers (Acts 2:42)
You have most likely done all of these at one time or another. If you think about it, this is what you do in a church service. Ever wonder why you leave feeling refreshed and encouraged? It’s because for one hour, you practiced the disciplines that lead to a transforming encounter with God. Why not seek to do this every day?
Here is a very practical suggestion for living this out. Make a check-list of these seven things. Look at it when you wake-up in the morning, revisit it at noontime and review it before you go to bed. Each time, respond to one or more of them. Pray, give thanks, sing a song, listen, journal, surrender or reach out to a believing friend. As you do this, remember that the goal is not to simply check something off of your list, but to encounter the Father. When you forget, miss a day, or a week, don’t be ashamed of starting again. This is what grace is for! The grace that saved you is the same grace that sustains you and transforms you. His grace is for today and everyday. There is literally NO condemnation for those who are in Christ! (Romans 8:1) Return to the Lord, and pick up where you left off. He’s patiently waiting and He is happy to meet you right where you are.
New year, new you? Why not? Receive His grace, encounter Him daily and be changed!