Summary: Often we set a New Year's Resolution, because there is a part of ourselves we are not happy with, or we want to live better than we have before. The world says we can't change. But with God, nothing is impossible.
Who here has ever made a new year’s resolution? How many people have actually stuck with it?
I have made a new year’s resolution many times. A common one for me has been to lose weight, and get into shape. However, needless to say, I never lost weight. And I came to the realisation, after some time, that round is a shape, and therefore I am in shape.
Why do we make new year’s resolutions anyway? It’s because there is a part of ourselves that we are not happy with, or a part of ourselves that we want to change, or sometimes we just want to live our lives better than we have.
I was reading a Psychology Today article on why people don’t stick with new year’s resolutions. What I read, I have to say, was very sad. The following is a quote from the article:
‘Psychology professor Peter Herman and his colleagues have identified what they call the "false hope syndrome," which means their resolution is significantly unrealistic and out of alignment with their internal view of themselves. This principle reflects that of making positive affirmations. When you make positive affirmations about yourself that you don't really believe, the positive affirmations not only don't work, they can be damaging to your self-worth.’
How sad is that! ‘False hope syndrome’. The thought that our resolutions are not only unrealistic, but significantly unrealistic, and they do not line up with our internal view of ourselves. That’s not very encouraging, is it? The thought that making positive statements about ourselves that we really don’t believe to be true is only making us feel worse.
What this article is basically saying, is that you’re not happy with yourself, you want to change yourself, you want to live better, but don’t even bother, because chances are your goal is unrealistic and it will only make you worse than what you are. Wow.
But perhaps, instead of a new year’s resolution, how about we call it a new beginning.
And you know what? I am encouraged, and I encourage you with the fact, that for our God, nothing is impossible. So no matter what part of yourself you are not happy with, or you want to change for the better, or even if there is a particular sin you are struggling with or feel convicted about, give it all over to Jesus. If you hand it to God and ask for his help, he is faithful and will help you.
Because our God makes all things new. When we want to make a new start in our life, all we need to do is turn to God. When we accepted the gift of salvation, we ourselves were made new. And for the God who created the universe from nothing, nothing is impossible.
Isaiah 43:16-19 reads:
This is what the Lord says – he who made a way through the sea, a path through the might waters, who drew out the chariots and the horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
There is a structure to the writings of the Old Testament prophets that we can see in this passage. Sometimes the message began with God reminding the prophet of what he had done before, reminding them (and therefore the people the message was meant for) of the great things God has done for them in the past. At this time, in the Babylonian exile, we see God reminding them that he has saved them before. He saved Israel from Egypt, he made a way for them through the Red Sea, and at the same time he extinguished their enemy. God is giving them a reminder that he has saved them before, giving them encouragement and reminding them of his sovereign authority and power, before telling them what he will do for them in the future.
And what an amazing statement of the authority, sovereignty, and powerful God we have! God is ultimately in control, and loves his people, and wants only the best for them.
It is always encouraging for me, and it makes me stop and just be in absolute awe of our God, when I think that this same God – the redeemer of Israel, the Holy One of Israel, the Lord, the Creator of the entire universe, the King, wants to have a personal relationship with me and died on the cross to make that possible.
But look at these words again:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”