God Specializes in Giving People a Fresh Start
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We all need a fresh start, we always have done, and that’s why marking the start of a new year has always been important to us. Four thousand years ago the Babylonians celebrated the start of the New Year toward the end of March, perhaps because it was a time when things began to grow again. Until Julius Caesar introduced a new calendar, the Roman New Year began on March 1st, but it doesn’t matter what the date is, we always need to take stock and we always need a fresh start. For centuries, Christians have used the time around New Year to reflect on their failings and focus on ways to become better human beings; but of course you don’t have to wait a year to make positive changes in your life. God specializes in giving his followers a fresh start at any time of the year.
‘A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.’ Ezekiel 36:26
Look into your heart and ask what you can do to become a better Christian and God will answer. But wanting change is not making change; change is a destination and requires a journey. If you work in business or you are a student, you are probably familiar with the term SMART targets. You might feel that this sort of acronym is out of place in Christian worship, but it’s just a tool, use it. Let’s say that you have decided that you need to do more to help others. Transform it from a vague intention to a SMART target, such as: for the next 12 months I will spend 20 hours a month helping out at a shelter for the homeless. It’s a target that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound.
Sometimes though, change can seem impossible; your life has fallen into chaos and misery and every step that you take fills you with despair, and yet even in the darkness, God is with you.
‘ “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ’Jeremiah 29:11
Hope is the gift of God. Again and again the Bible tells us to be joyful and confident in our hope: change will come.
‘There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.’ Proverbs 23:18
So, at this time of New Year resolutions, reflect on your Christian life, ask yourself ‘what needs to change?’ and pray to God for his guidance, confident that in a world which seems to shift beneath your feet, there is one sure constant.
‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.’ Hebrews 13:8