2 Corinthians 3:5-6
5: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
6: Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
The beginning of a new year is often a time when people decide to make some changes for the betterment of themselves. Some decide to give up a bad habit; Some decide to loose weight; some decide to get various aspects of their lives in line with some positive objective (like planning for retirement, etc). But to me the beginning of the year is a place where we can put a period behind the things of the previous year and begin anew. Last year’s journey was long for some of us. There were events, circumstances, and even burdens that seemed to have accompanied some of us every step of the way. There were losses last year that are hard to get over. Some might find themselves lingering at the point of the loss; lamenting the inalterable consequences of the loss, but they too eventually must resign to the fact that the journey must continue. For other there were gains made in the previous year. While material gains or financial gains were great things to have, the greatest gain was the gain of personal growth. Some matured and learned that there was more satisfaction in their lives than they had first perceived; some freed themselves from previous mindsets and discovered a new level of maturity that can only come as an evidence of budding wisdom. Some finally understood in earnest what Paul meant when he said, “ Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (Phil.4:11). For whichever of these experiences might have been yours the beginning of a new year brings us all to an even starting place. We can all envision lofty goals for this new year. We can couple the obvious need that are before us with the wisdom that we gained from the previous year and make solid plans that will help us stand at the threshold of next year with a sense of satisfaction that all that could be done was done; and that there were no missed opportunities over which we should have regret. We can feel that we are pointed in the right direction and moving on. One of the grave mistakes that one might make in this new year is to take baggage from last year into the new year. If you want to maximize the effects of the new year then take a new you into the new year. Paul speaks in Eph.4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23: And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;”.
Renewing your mind: How does one divest themselves of the impact of the negative experiences from last year?
1. By understanding the end results of one’s efforts. What it should have been concerning you; your value to those who depend on you; your service to God; your spiritual growth; your education in God’s word; your impact on the life of others; your impact on the kingdom of God. If you had low or no impact in these areas then you likely have a sense of guilt hanging over you. This guilt can be dispensed with a simple act of repentance. God, and most people are anxious to forgive a person who sincerely seeks to do the right thing. The biggest obstacle is being able to put away vain pride long enough to say; “I have sinned, and I want forgiveness.
2. By getting busy. When one immerses themselves in good works past short-comings are soon forgotten. God is not a “What have you done for me lately God. He is a What are you doing for me now God.” Take a look around you and note what you see. There is much that needs to be done in the kingdom. You can take one of two positions. You can blame someone else for it not having been done, or you can see it as a clear indication of a place where you can make a difference. (Mt.20:44: And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.” Pay day is coming whether we work or not.
3. By understanding that the sacrifice that Jesus made for you was not haphazard. Because of His love for you He was aware and conscious of the fact that He was suffering and dying for you, with only a hope that one day we’d become aware and conscious that we should be willing to live for Him.
Is God disappointed with me?
One of the most damaging mind-sets that a person can get is that because of their lack of activity in the vineyard that God has counted them out. Sure, we have failed God in the past, but it’s the Devil that is trying to convince you that God has given up on you. There is nothing more that God wants than for to make a “come back” for Him.
28: But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
29: He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
30: And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
31: Whether of them twain did the will of his father? The son who said that he would not go but later repented and went was no longer looked upon as a rebellious son. The bible does not give a reason why he said no, and why we may not have been faithful isn’t the end of the story. The point is that while there was still time he did the will of the father. Listen to how important it is to do the will of the Father…
Matthew 7: 21: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Peter denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed; just as Jesus said that he would; yet Peter was the apostle that delivered the Pentecost day sermon at which three thousand souls were baptized, and the Church of Christ began its reign on earth.