A New Year

When I was young, I never considered the fact that I would be living in a new millennium yet here we are, already half way through the first month of 2014! I guess I am now living on the side of the age time-line where time seems to speed by.(Whoa horse!)

My husband doesn’t care to celebrate New Year’s – he thinks that it is just another ordinary day. The only reason that I would like to celebrate is so that I could get dressed up in some pretty sparkly stuff and go dancing!  (Can’t blame a girl for wanting to wear bling once a year) Never-the-less, we tend to avoid the noisy and inebriated New Year’s Eve crowds and stay at home and enjoy tasty hors d’oeuvres (fancy French word for finger foods :)) and  maybe a cocktail or two while we watch the “fireplace channel” on tv. (hey – we live in an apartment with no fireplace so we have to make do!)

Come New Year’s morning, we do not keep company with the thousands of people who are already regretting their New Year’s Eve celebrations. You know, the ones who makes New Year’s resolutions while hanging their heads over the “porcelain throne”.

Ah yes – those famous, or perhaps I should say, infamous New Year’s Eve resolutions. I am sure that most of us have made at least one of them in our lives. And I am sure that most of us have broken at least one of them too! Out of all the resolutions that get made each New Year, I wonder how many of them actually get carried out?

This year, someone posted on Facebook that they were not making any New Year’s resolutions, instead, they were setting goals. Sounds impressive, but I wonder if changing the word “resolutions” to “goals” actually makes any difference? Having and/or setting goals is a good thing, but I think it requires as much commitment and follow-through as does making resolutions.

There are so many things that I wish I had done with my life and so many things I still want to do. And of course, I have many, many regrets about the mistakes I have made. I have sat on many a New year’s Eve thinking about all the difficult and unpleasant situations that I lived through that year. And I have sat praying fervently that the upcoming year would be a better one – please God! Perhaps you have experienced that too?

There were years where I didn’t think that things could get any worse – that the upcoming year just had to be better than the previous one! In 2007, my world, as I knew it, fell apart; my 26 year marriage ended suddenly and unexpectedly, I felt forced to leave my home, my possessions,my friends and my church. A few months later, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. At the same time, I was forced to be involved in a very unpleasant legal battle. On top of all this, was the agony of watching my youngest son as he pulled away from me. Then, on top of the “on top of all this” I fell victim to an evil person who scammed me.

You can believe that my New Year’s Eve during that time was FILLED with guilt, remorse, anger, shame, confusion and fear. Talk about feeling STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!

If, like me, you have ever sat on New Year’s Eve and contemplated the errors, mistakes, foolishness, wrong thoughts and wrong behaviours that you committed over the preceding year, you need to remember a few things:

Firstly, and most important, is that we, as Christians, have a loving Heavenly Father who loves us and will continue to love us, despite our mistakes.

Rom 8:35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Rom 8:37  But in all these things we more than conquer through Him who loved us.
Rom 8:38  For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39  nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Secondly, we have Jesus, who acts as an understanding intercessor between us and God:

Heb 4:15  For we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted just as we are, yet without sin.

And thirdly, we have a just God who is willing to forgive us our mistakes and sins when we confess them to Him:

1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Another thing that I would like you to understand, especially if you are looking back with regret, or living with guilt because you have already broken this year’s resolution: there is a BIG difference between condemnation and conviction.

Condemnation means to be accused, judged, found guilty and sentenced to punishment. And who is it that accuses us? It is our enemy, the devil:

Rev 12:9  And the great dragon was cast out, the old serpent called Devil, and Satan, who deceives the whole world. He was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Rev 12:10  And I heard a great voice saying in Heaven, Now has come the salvation and power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ. For the accuser of our brothers is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night.

God tells us that He did not send His son, Jesus, to accuse and condemn us, but rather, to save us if we accept Jesus as our Saviour:

Joh 3:17  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.
Joh 3:18  He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.

Webster’s dictionary defines “conviction” as:

2. The act of convincing, or compelling one to admit the truth of a charge; the act of convincing of sin or sinfulness; the state of being convinced or convicted by conscience; the state of being sensible of guilt; as, the convictions of a sinner may be temporary, or lasting and efficacious. By conviction, a sinner is brought to repentance. Men often sin against the conviction of their own consciences.

3. The act of convincing of error; confutation; the act of compelling one to acknowledge his error, or the truth of what is alledged; as, the conviction of a heretic may induce him to abandon his errors.

Basically, conviction means that you realize and/or acknowledge that you made a mistake or sinned. Notice how conviction tends to come from within a person, not from an outside accuser. And also notice, that conviction does not come with sentencing and punishment.

As Christian believers, we have been given a built-in helper, God’s holy spirit,  to assist us in recognizing and acknowledging any areas in our lives that need correcting and/or changing:

Joh 16:7  But I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you. But if I depart, I will send Him to you.
Joh 16:8  And when that One comes, He will convict the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment.

God does not want us to live in destructive condemnation, but rather, He wants us to live with loving, constructive conviction. So when you fall, recognize and acknowledge the fall, then “pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again…” knowing that, through Jesus Christ, you have the forgiveness and love of your heavenly Father, and power through God’s holy spirit to overcome mistakes and change negative habits.

And rejoice – for every day is a new day and a new opportunity. I like what Paul wrote in Philippians:

Php 3:12  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I am pressing on, if I may lay hold of that for which I also was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
Php 3:13  My brothers, I do not count myself to have taken possession, but one thing I do, forgetting the things behind and reaching forward to the things before,

Php 3:14  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

We are not yet perfect, so don’t beat yourself up about mistakes you have made (or will make). Whether you call it a New Year’s “resolution” or a “goal” just keep moving forward every day, reaching toward the high calling you have been given in Jesus Christ. You will never go wrong if your focus is on Jesus!

I like the following verse from a song sung by Michael Buble:

Stars when you shine
You know how I feel
Scent of the pine
You know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life

And I’m feeling good!

Blessings

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