HOW TO MAKE A FRESH START
Preparing for the New Year
Isaiah 43:18-19 (NCV)
How many of you here this morning, “ would like to have a fresh start in your Christian life? ” Many of us here this morning have made many mistakes in our lives as Christians. We have experienced many setbacks and failures throughout our lives. Sometimes we allow these mistakes, these setbacks and failures to enslave us to the point that we never enjoy the full Christian life that God has given us to enjoy.
In John 10:10 Jesus said, “ I am come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” Then he goes on to tell us that there is an adversary, called the Devil, that seeks to still, kill and destroy that life. The Devil will remind us of our past in order to keep us from enjoying the life that God gave us to live. The Devil does not want you to have a fresh start in life.
The good news is, God says, “ I want you to have a fresh start in life, I want you to have a new beginning, I want to do something new in your life. ” Aren’t you glad that God wants to do something new in your life? Doesn’t it make you excited to know that God desire to give you a fresh start, a new beginning in life. What all of us here need this morning is a Fresh Start, a New Beginning with God. Last year some of you said, “ I am going to grow in my relationship with God. I am going to pray more, read my bible more and get more involved in my church. I’m going to spend more quality time with my family. ” The list could go on. The fact all of us here made some mistakes or we made some bad decision that hindered us from doing those things that wanted to do.
Well this morning the good news is according to Isaiah 43:18 “The Lord says, `Forget about what has happened before. Do not think about the past. Instead, look at the new things I’m going to do. ” Listen to what God is saying in this verse. Forget about what’s happened before. He says don’t think about the past. It’s over. The book’s closed on it.
We need to understand that God is far more interested in our future than He is in our past. Some people think that God is stuck on their past. That all He wants to do is remind them of the things that they have done wrong. God is more interested in your future than He is with your past. That’s where you’re going to spend the rest of your life. He says, “Forget about your past. Forget about the former things. Don’t think about it. Look at the new thing I’m going to do.”
Israel was being punished for their sins and rebellion against God. God wanted to give hope and encouragement to His people. He wanted them to know that even though they were being punished they were not being forsaken. God wanted His people to understand that the punishment that they were experiencing would not be the end of them. The fact is that God want to give them a fresh start in life, a new Beginning in life.
Israel no doubt was discouraged because they thought this was the end of them. They had gone to far, they had sinned and rebelled against God to he point that He would no longer be their God. Maybe they thought God would not deliver us again, it’s over. That is when they begin to remember the former things or past deliverances. Israel could remember past deliverances and past victories. They could remember when they were trapped by the Red Sea and had nowhere to go, how God made away for them. They could remember that when the enemy was about to overtake them how He provided protection for them. They could remember the former things, but they couldn’t see their future. That is why God said; “ I am going to do something new.
Maybe that is where you are this morning! You feel that you have made so many mistakes, you have failed God so many times and you have sinned it all away. Now God doesn’t want anything to do with you. You feel and believe that you have no future with God. The good news is, God is saying, “ It’s not over, I have plans for your life. I am about to do something new for you. ”
This morning I want to share with you, “ How To Make a Fresh Start? ”
I want to share with you a formula for starting over. S.T.A.R.T. I hope you’ll remember this and pass it along to friends when they have failures. Regardless of what kind of failure you had in the past. You may have had a financial failure, or maybe a relational failure, a failure in your marriage. You may have had a moral failure. You may have really blown it and you may have made some decisions you’re so ashamed of and hope nobody ever finds out about. Regardless of the failure you’ve had in your life, here’s how you start over.
S – Stop making excuses.
If I want a fresh start in life, I have to stop making excuses for my failures. I’ve got to stop blaming other people. I’ve got to stop seeing myself as the victim of my circumstances.
Other people can hurt us, other people can harm us, and other people can scar us. But the only person that can ruin your life is you. Nobody can ruin your life without your permission. You have a choice and that is you can choose how you’re going to respond to those hurts. The Bible says that the starting point is to just be honest and accept responsibility for my part in the problem.
Proverbs 28:13 “A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confess and forsakes them he gets another chance.”
He gets a fresh start. He says the starting point to starting over is to be honest and face up to the problems, that most of the problems in my life, most of the failures, are my fault.
It is hard to get people to admit when they are wrong. People do not like to admit, “ I mad a mistake, and I blew it. ” God says, “ That if we admit the mistake, if we admit our failures, and if we admit our sin, then we get another chance in life.
· The number one reason we fail in life is we don’t prepare ourselves for the problems that we will face in life.
The Bible say’s (Proverbs 20:7) "A sensible man watches for problems and prepares to meet them but the fool never looks ahead and suffers the consequences."
Was it raining when Noah started building the ark? No. He had to prepare for the coming flood. In fact the rain didn’t come for 120 years. But that’s how long it took him to get the thing built.
· Because we don’t listen to others. We don’t listen to good advise when it’s offered.
The Bible says in Proverbs 15 “ Plans fail without good advise.” You need to get all the advice you can. Get good advise from people you know you can trust.
Why want people listen to the advice of other people? Because they think they don’t need it. It’s called pride. Ego. Ego stands for "Edging God Out." When a person thinks they know more than God, they push Him out of their life, they’re on an ego trip and that trip leads to a dead end.
The Bible says, "Pride always leads to destruction."
An arrogant attitude leads to a fall. When I think I know it all and I can figure it all out myself, I’m setting myself up for failure, if I don’t listen to the advise of others, if I don’t listen to the advise of my wife/boss/husband/other people around me, if I think I’ll just do it my way. I’ll never get anywhere if I have already arrived. The person that gets too big for their britches, will eventually be exposed in the end. That’s the problem with pride.
We fail to prepare and we fail to listen to other people and we fail as a result.
· We give up too soon. These are the three greatest causes for failure. We give up too soon.
Proverbs 24:10 "If you give up when troubles come, it just shows that you are weak."
Failure is the path of least resistance. The problem is that often during trying times we stop trying. We give up.
If at first you don’t succeed, welcome to the human race. If at first you don’t succeed, you’re normal. Very few people make it on the first try. Oftentimes, we give up just when success is around the corner. You’re never a failure until you give up. Sometimes we give up too soon.
It’s always too soon to quit. The Bible says we need to stop making excuses, admit when it’s our fault and get on with life. I’ve discovered that people who are very good at making excuses are rarely good at anything else. They spend all their energy thinking up reasons why they can’t do what they’re supposed to do.
So "S" in START stands for Stop making excuses.
T - Take An Inventory Of My Life
I need to take an inventory of my life. That means I need to evaluate all my experiences. I need to look at what I have left after the failure. I need to take an inventory of my life’s experiences and learn from them.
Galatians 3:4 "You have experienced many things. Were all those experiences wasted? I hope not."
The Living Bible say’s, “ You have suffered so much for the gospel. Now are you going to throw it all over board.” I can hardly believe it.
Learn from your mistakes. Failure can be your friend or your foe. You determine if failure will be your friend or foe by the way you react to it. You can choose to learn from it or choose to repeat it. If you learn from it then it can be your friend. However, if you don’t learn from it is your foe.
There are four kinds of experiences that God uses to shape our lives.
· He uses personal experiences. The family that you grew up in, the people you relate to. God can use your personal experience with your husband or your wife. He uses personal experiences to shape you.
· He uses vocational and educational experiences to shape you.
· He uses spiritual experiences to shape you, like coming to church, going on a retreat or reading your Bible, having a quiet time.
· He uses painful experiences to shape you.
As you take inventory of your life in starting over, you need to ask yourself three questions.
· What have I learned? I know people 40, 50 years old but they don’t have 40 or 50 years of experience. They’ve had the same year of experience over and over. They’ve never learned anything. What have you learned from past experiences? If you don’t set down and think it through, you’ll end up repeating the same mistake over and over again because you didn’t learn from it the first time.
· What are my assets? What have I got going for me? Have I got my health? Have I got my freedom? Am I still mentally sound? Have I got some friends? Have I got the Lord? Have I got a church family? What do I have that I can get a fresh start with?
· Who can help me? When we need a fresh start, we need somebody by our side – a friend, an accountability partner, a support person, or a support group. Find someone that can help you. You need other people because you don’t start over by yourself after a major setback or crisis. You need somebody else to walk along with you. There is one that we can count on to be there to help us to get a fresh start in life. The Lord Jesus will be there, He will help us to pull your lives back together and make sure that we get started on the right foot.
A - Act in faith
This is the third step in getting a fresh start. Act in faith. You have to launch out into new territory. The Bible says that the key to changing anything is faith. If you want to change your circumstance, it takes faith. If you want to change your personality, it takes faith. If you want to change anything in your life, you have to have some faith.
Jesus says this in Matthew 9. “ According to your faith it will be done to you. ” That is a very simple statement but it’s very powerful. “According to your faith it will be done to you.” That means we tend to get out of life what we expect. “According to your faith it will be done to you."
What are you expecting in life? Are things going to be better or worse? Are they going to be the same? If you act in faith then you will do something positive to ensure that you don’t repeat the same mistakes over.
The faith that I am talking about is not a dead hope so faith. It is an affirmative faith that takes positive action coupled with the help of God to change your life.
Acts 3:1-5 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 2And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. 4And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
This man asked for something and expected to get it, but in reality he got more than he expected. The point that I want to make is this lame man acted in faith and was greatly rewarded. Many times we ask for something and expect to get nothing and we get exactly what we expected, nothing.
In order to start acting in faith that means you’ve got to stop having a pity party. You’ve got to stop feeling sorry for yourself. “Poor me! I’m such a victim. Life is unfair.” Of course life is unfair! Whoever said it was fair? God never said that. This is a world filled with sin and because of that, life is unfair. But you have to go on with life anyway. You stop having a pity party and stop rehearsing the past, regretting the past, and you get on with the present and the future. The more time we spend regretting our past, the more of our future is wasted. The more time you spend thinking, "I wish that hadn’t happened! I wish I could change that. If only I could go back, reverse the clock and redo history," and you’re rehearsing and regretting, you’ll not only make yourself miserable right now, you’re setting yourself up for more of the same thing in the future. The way you set yourself up for more failure is by focusing on past failures. Whatever you focus on you tend to reproduce in your life. "According to your faith it will be done unto you."
What you need to do is learn from those failures. Let me give you the real secret of success. Every successful entrepreneur knows this. Real success is built on failure. Failure is the way you become a success. You figure out what doesn’t work. When Edison figured out on the 200th or so time, what would make a light bulb stay lit, he did that because he knew 199 ways that didn’t work. You never call it a failure in your life. Call it an education. You learn from past failures and mistakes and act in faith for the future. Some people will never act in faith because they have been paralyzed by the fear of past failures and mistakes.
What we need to do is learn from the past, act in faith for the future and look to God for guidance.
How do you get rid of fear of failure? Faith. That’s why the third step in starting over is Act in faith. Faith is not so much the absence of fear, as it is moving ahead in spite of your fear. Sometimes faith is doing the thing you fear the most.
Stop worrying about what others say or think. Proverbs 29:25 "Being afraid of people can get you into trouble
The Living Bible say’s, “ Fear of man is a dangerous trap, but to trust in God means safety.
R - Refocus
I need to refocus my thoughts if I want to change my life. If I want to get going again, if I want a fresh start, I need to rethink the way that I think. I need to change my mind about a number of issues.
Proverbs 4:23 "Be careful how you think. Your life is shaped by your thoughts."
The way you think, determines the way you feel. And the way you feel determines the way you act. If you want to change your actions, just change the way you think and it will inevitably change the way you act. If you are depressed, discouraged and distressed it may be because you’re thinking depressed, discouraged and distressing thoughts. That’s your choice. You don’t have to think those thoughts. If you’re acting in fearful, worried ways it’s because you’re thinking fearful, worried thoughts.
Romans 12:2 “ Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. ”
If I have to refocus my thoughts to start over to get a fresh start, that means I have to stop thinking some old patterns. Which memories are you still rehearsing that keep you from having a fresh start in life? The Bible says let go. Let go of those things. The more you hold on to that memory, the more you rehearse it, it continues to hurt you today. It cannot hurt you without your permission. You have to change your mind and let go and get rid of those painful, hurtful memories of shame and guilt and other things.
How do you do that?
· First, confession. You say, "I’ve confessed to God but I still feel guilty. How do I get rid of a painful memory?" Not by resisting it but by replacing it. Not saying, "I’m not going to think about it! I’m not going to think about it!" What are you doing the whole time? Thinking about it. Stop focusing on what you don’t want and start focusing on what you do want. Get your attention onto something else. Refocus. Replace those memories by, every time they come up, start thinking about something else. Focus on something else.
· What’s the best thing to focus on? God’s word.
Psalm 1 “Happy are those who are always meditating on God’s word. They’re like trees along a river that do not dry up. They succeed in everything they do. ”
Those are the two things that everybody wants in life. We all want to be happy and we all want to succeed. The antidote, the answer, the way we get those is the phrase right in the middle “ meditating on God’s word. ” That’s the answer to the other two. The more you meditate on God’s word, the happier and more successful you’ll be in Your Christian life. It’s a promise from God.
Meditating on God’s word simply means rehearsing God’s word in our minds.
It’s interesting that the Bible does not say, "If you read this book, you’ll be happy and successful." It does not say, "If you listen to this book, like through a sermon, you’ll be happy and successful." It says, "If you meditate on it you’ll be happy and successful." In meditating it means I think on it over and over and what it means in my life. I consider it and consider its implications for my life. As we fill our mind with God’s word, it begins to change our mind. We stop seeing ourselves as other people see us or as we have seen ourselves and we begin to see ourselves as God does. That’s where the change takes place. That’s the power to start over.
T – Trust
Trust God to help us succeed. Depend on Him. We don’t need depend on ourselves. We’ve already proven that we can’t do it on our own. That’s why we’ve failed. Some people just don’t get it. They stumble and fall and then they get up and say, “I’ll just try harder!” It’s like you go up to a wall and bang your head against it and the wall doesn’t fall down. You try it again and Bang! Again. You keep doing it thinking, “Maybe it will fall over this time.” That’s the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting different results. If we keep doing the same thing then we will keep getting the same result. We can’t change who we are, only God can do that. I am not speaking about the outward man but the inner man. The real person is the hidden person of the heart. Success in the Christian life is not trying harder, but living smarter. Giving God control of my life.
Zechariah 4:6 “ You will not succeed by your own strength or power but by My Spirit, says the Lord. ”
“When someone becomes a Christian, They become a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!” God specializes in new beginnings. Jesus Christ has the power to do that. It’s called being born again, the chance to start over. We can have fresh start with a new life as we begin this New Year. God says, “I don’t want you to turn over a new leaf. I’m going to give you a whole new life.”
Conclusion: Will you have a fresh start in life? Will you have a new beginning? It’s your choice. How can I have a fresh start? I can have a fresh start by:
· Stop making excuse
· Take an inventory of my life
· Act in faith
· Refocus my thoughts
· Trust God