How To Approach the New Year

It is an accepted fact, among Believers, that the beginning of a New Year is a time to reset one’s hearts, which may have wandered. It is also a time of restoring the habit of turning to Christ every day for a fresh start. I’m not talking about being in a brand new relationship, but I am talking about being in an even stronger relationship with Jesus Christ; a relationship which should be always growing. And while many people were trying to decide how to celebrate on New Year’s Eve and trying to figure out their plethora of New Year’s resolutions, what should we, as Christians have been doing? Might I suggest that there might not have been simply one “right” way to observe the transition from 2023 to 2024; however, here are some thoughts to help believers stay focused on Christ.

I pray that we all began by making a “Fresh Start for the New Year”. There are so many people, regardless of what they believe, who will look at New Year’s Day as a chance for a brand new beginning; especially if the previous year was disappointing or if they have made significant mistakes. As a matter of fact, in the New Year it is as if the old things don’t matter anymore and it’s a time for refocusing while imagining that they are wiping the old slate clean and starting over fresh. As Christians with a strong belief system, we know for certain that “New Starts” are available for us at any time and that we are not dictated by the calendar.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says that “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”.

In other words, all those who confess and repent of their sins can enjoy freedom from regret and freedom from shame while at the same time they can find the courage to endure through trials and tribulations. Joy and mercy are available at all times for each and every believer. However, a new year can readily inspire this kind of thought process. While making our New Years’ Resolution, let us begin with Confessions.

For us to make a fresh start in the New Year it sometime symbolizes that we should be starting over; starting over which often times turns into making resolutions.  But quitting smoking, starting a diet, or purchasing a gym membership is only the beginning of a physical “fresh start.” However, if there is a sin issue in any person’s life, he or she can spiritually address it at that point. In fact, true peace awaits the one who is quick to confess and repent of their sins.

As a matter of fact, Psalm 32:10 tells us that “Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD”.

It is apparent that bad habits and addictions are symptomatic of much deeper issues. And rather than making resolutions to quit doing things or rather than making resolutions to start doing something else, we need to take advantage of this renewed force to face the sin in our lives. And at the point while we are facing our sins, it will enable us to find freedom from its effects through the loving direction of our Heavenly Father. An example is that one might be the kind of person who constantly seeks attention by causing drama. Or it may be an individual that might run from conflict in the New Year by exercising in the gym too much and by trying to control a painful situation by regulating calories carefully. The Fear of life itself could be driving one to drink or to abuse drugs. These habits or addictions can and will enslave a person and will eventually rob them of their peace because alcohol or exercise or drama at that time becomes their focus or a type of worship; an idol.

2 Corinthians 7:10 says: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death”.

Therefore, the New Year is a perfect time to dig up the roots of trouble by the power of the Holy Spirit, under the assurance that honest and whole-hearted repentance leads to salvation, leads to life and leads to peace.

Remember these words from the Apostle John in 1John 1:9 which says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.

Jesus does not want his people to be burdened by their sins, but He wants them to experience true freedom. And it is imperative that we remember that, although God’s Word contains all the answers that one need to overcome addictions and to work through conflict. Spiritual counselors can help by providing direction and support while helping to assist one to connect the Lord’s promises to their unique emotional needs. A responsible and discerning counselor can also suggest medical attention when and where necessary. Certain habits and certain behaviors can be the result of a clinical issue or the result of trauma in one’s life; not just spiritual issues and could require medication, at least for a time. Realistically, when individuals face the turmoil of personal sin that is contributed to a direct response to sins committed against him or her, there could not be a better time than the New Year when both parties can reflect and can make changes. But both parties must accept the fact that the work of the Spirit in each person’s life is between him or her and their God. Part of us learning to overcome addictive behaviors is us potentially finding the courage to walk away from an abusive marriage, an abusive friendship, or a dead-end or unsatisfying job, so is better to make new friends either going out or in a chatv online. Going into the New Year, we need to also “Remember All the Lord Has Done For Us”.

Deuteronomy 6:12 tells us to : “then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery”.

Christians are enjoined or rather instructed to never forget what their Lord has done for them. A Christian who obtains his greatest joy from the Lord sees the New Year as a time to remember the goodness of God as it has unfolded across the previous and the preceding years. Sometimes the details of God’s intervention are only obvious when one surveys his goodness over a period of time. However, we can never remember too often the Lord’s grace, His mercy and His love towards us. Just us remembering Christ is essential; the more one does this the better. But at the start of a New Year, it is important for one to reassess which direction that they need to go with regard to their career or with regards to a relationship; just in regards to whatever his or her cross might be, it must be determined if they need to either change course or stick with the established course.

If this is a difficult season, go back and reflect on Hebrews 4:15 which says: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Remember that Christ knows all of the temptations each of us face and the suffering we endure. He is able to sympathize, so we can turn to him without fear for He loves each of us. We need to flat out “Celebrate the New Year”

Psalm 118:24 says: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it”.

This is the Psalmist’s (King David) exhortation for every day, not just New Year’s Day; not only on the good days, when we anticipate the company of friends; those days when we anticipate a great feast and perhaps some good music and maybe even some dancing. Fact is that “Every day is the Lord’s Day and we are certainly His every day and His mercies are brand new every day so we need to Rejoice each and every day. Not just on New Year’s Day, but every day.

It is also a fallacy that Christians don’t have fun. Fact is that Christians do not need to avoid “fun” as though Christ was aversely against it. And God certainly does not demand that we be serious all the time. In fact, Jesus was not a recluse as He performed His first miracle at a wedding, when He changed water into wine. He was so full of life that His enemies called Him a wine bibber and a glutton. Of course He was not; but there was a genuine joy in Him. And as we continue on a quest to be more like Him, if you don’t have and if you don’t display that type of joy, then you’re not like Jesus, for He is literally leaping with joy.” We are not called into extreme indulgence in bodily pleasures, especially sexual pleasures, because that is not true joy. But we are encouraged by Christ’s example to be filled with the exuberance for life, which is living inside of us by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:14-15 says: “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “ Abba, Father.”

Without a doubt, we all have so much and so many reasons to celebrate. And as Christians, we observe the season of Advent and we look forward to the return of Christ with the perception that “Christ’s Coming is getting Closer”. Each and every year, someone predicts the end of the world and this “so-called prophet” names a year and tells the whole world not only when but how the world will end. With each new catastrophe and with each major conflict between world powers, it appears that Armageddon or rather the last battle between good and evil is very near.

But the Bible tells us in Matthew 24:36 that: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

Even with the assurance of Matthew 24:34, every January 1, many Christians still wonder for naught if this “will be the year Jesus returns?” One thing is for certain; “Jesus’ return is sooner today than it was yesterday”. Therefore, as God’s people with that thought in mind, it is imperative that we continuously prepare.

1 John 3:2-3 tells us that 2“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure”.

So, if any of you really want to “be in Christ”; if you really want to be like him by seeing him when he comes, you need to pursue being like him now. In other words, each New Year is just a reminder to keep Jesus ever in the forefront of our minds. You may be thinking “Why Does This Even Matter”? The answer is that every New Year’s Day is no different from any other day as far as Christ is concerned. However, for us believers, the very idea of throwing out an old calendar and starting fresh with 12 clean pages is a saddening reminder that the new pages, like our lives, can quickly become messy.

New Year’s Day is a day of resetting hearts, which may have wandered, and a time of restoring the habit of turning to Christ every day for a fresh start, not in a new relationship, but in a relationship with Jesus, which is always growing.