Happy New Year

Here’s wishing all of you a very Happy and Blessed New Year!  Lori and I are visiting our daughter and her family in Kentucky as I write this to you.  We are having the best time!  Of course we love spending time with our grand daughter, Collins.  She turns one on January 6th. 
This is the time of year for resolutions.  Do you make any? I’ve known people who say, “I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I can’t keep them anyway, so what’s the point? I want to share with you some reasons for making resolutions and maybe you’ll give it a try this year. 
First, we all need changes.  Sometimes we have a hard time admitting it.  I’ve heard people say, “I have no regrets about my life.  If I had it to do all over again, I’d do it the same way.”  But that seems way to blind of an attitude, and rather self-serving to me.  There is great power in confession – to ourselves, to God, and to others.  Owning up to our failures is the first, painful step on the road to something better.
Second, when we start a new year, it’s a good time to assess the previous year.  How did it go? What do I want to do differently this year? This time of year reminds me of Jeremiah 4:3, which says, “Break up your unplowed ground, and do not sow among thorn.”  Any farmer knows the more land you put in production the more prosperous you’ll be.  But it’s useless to sow seeds in ground that is overrun with thistles.  So, as we assess our lives, are there areas where in your life where the weeds are taking over? Or, put another way, what percentage of your life is producing something of value to God?  Perhaps you have unplowed ground that needs broken up and made more useful? Reassessment.  The start of a new year is a good time for reassessment. 
Third, New Year’s is an excellent time for mid-course corrections.  Sure, we might fail in what we set out to do, but if we fail to plan then we plan to fail.  If you’re so fearful of failure that you never set up your row of tin cans to shoot at, you’re not very likely to hit any at all.  Failure is not the end.  For the person who determines to learn from it, failure is a friend. 
The apostle Paul had a good approach to handling failures.  It seemed that projects to which he had devoted years were turning to dust before his eyes.  But during one of his stints in prison, we can see from on of his letters an unwillingness to quit.  If “Forgetting what is behind,” he wrote, “and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14, NIV)  No wonder he made a mark on this world.  He stopped looking back and looked forward instead.  He didn’t let the fear of failure keep him from trying again. 
Fourth, New Year’s is a time to learn to rely more heavily on the grace of God.  Trust in the Lord to be your helper.  Life is too hard to face it alone!  One more secret from the Apostle Paul: “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” he said (Phil 4:13, NIV).  And God’s strength saw him through a lot-through pain, through joy, and through accomplishment. 
If this last year, you didn’t practice relying on the Lord as much as you should have, there is no time like the present to make a New Year’s resolution.  In fact, why don’t you say a short prayer right now-use these words if you like:
“Dear God, I want the new year to be different for me.” 
Now spell out in prayer some of the changes you’d like to see.  And close this way, “Lord Jesus, I know that I’m going to need a lot of help for this.  So right now I place myself in your hands.  Help me to receive Your strength.  Amen.” 
Good.  Now you’ve got a much better chance of a Happy New Year.
Grace, Peace and Love,
Pastor Craig