Summary: What do you think of when you hear the word, “new”? Fresh, pure, clean? Another new year is upon us. How will we approach it? What will we do with it? Will it be a repeat of last year? Will we be a repeat of last year? Or will we experience newness? How c
INTRODUCTION: What do you think of when you hear the word, “new”? Fresh, pure, clean? Another new year is upon us. How will we approach it? What will we do with it? Will it be a repeat of last year? Will we be a repeat of last year? Or will we experience newness? How can we experience and demonstrate newness?
1) By leaving the old behind. We’re not going to be successful at experiencing and demonstrating what’s new if we’re clinging to what’s old. Part of looking ahead is leaving behind. Out with the old; in with the new. What is it we need to leave behind as we look ahead?
• Old setbacks. As we approach a new year, we might have the tendency to look back over our last year and look ahead in discouragement. We’re discouraged that all the goals and accomplishments, all the things we said we were going to achieve in 2010 didn’t happen and here we are, facing 2011 with the same unmet goals. Therefore, the reality hits me that yet another year of precious time has ticked away and what do I have to show for it? I haven’t gained? I haven’t grown? Maybe 2010 wasn’t just a year of unmet goals, perhaps it was just an outright bad year. Maybe I relapsed in 2010. Maybe I lost my job in 2010. Maybe I lost a loved one or maybe I broke up with someone. We need to be able to let go of past failures if we are going to be able to look ahead with a positive attitude.
• Old resentments. Now is the time to let go of past confrontations, past arguments. There is no newness when we’re holding onto old bitterness and hatred toward someone. No matter how many new things or opportunities you’re faced with, holding onto old anger will surely undermine your accomplishments. Past resentments will get in the way of experiencing and demonstrating newness. But if I’m forgiving I open the door for a fresh, clean new start.
• Old accomplishments. We also need to leave our successes in the past as well. We can’t rest on our laurels. We also can’t expect our past accomplishments to repeat themselves. If a team wins a game, it doesn’t think they will automatically win the next one. Just like a loss from the previous game, the coach will tell his team to put it behind them and move forward. If we don’t put our past accomplishments aside we will become overconfident and expect that our success will repeat itself and when it doesn’t we will crash hard. If we don’t put old accomplishments behind us we will not be ready for what’s new.
2) By having a new faith. James 2:14-19. This is a faith that transcends from being a believer to a true follower. There’s a difference between believing and following. We need to allow our faith to be deeper. Same belief in the same Jesus but deeper. We need to step it up and go from being a believer to a follower. Instead of just believing certain truths about Christ I need to surrender. That means I will need to leave things behind. When Jesus called his disciples to follow him they left things behind and followed him. Peter and Andrew left their father, boat and nets behind and followed Jesus. Matthew left his tax collector’s booth behind and followed Jesus. We will need to leave some things behind too. We will need to leave behind pride, control, self-will and personal gain. This new, radical faith involves casting off the sin that so easily entangles us. It involves casting off the fear and doubt that would stop us from going from believing to following. But some who are here today are teetering on that fence. You’re a believer but you’re not really a follower. It’s a new year and now is the right time to have a new, deeper faith.
3) By having a new perspective. The question becomes: do you approach the New Year with excitement or despondency? Despite how bad 2010 might’ve been, we can still look ahead enthusiastically about the upcoming year. How? We’re actually so relieved that 2010 is over we’re more than ready for 2011 to come because we’re ready for a fresh start, a new beginning. But what if we’re carrying some unresolved problems from 2010 into 2011. How can I have a positive perspective then? Maybe for the same reason we all should have a positive perspective about heading into 2011: because of the new possibilities. I might have to deal with some old problems but perhaps they will be resolved shortly into the New Year. That’s just it; we don’t know? That’s what ‘new’ is: unchartered territory, untapped resources, unbroken ground. Just because we might have to deal with old problems doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of new possibilities. Our perspective of the New Year needs to be based in God’s word. Psalm 65:11, “You crown the year with your bounty (goodness), and your carts overflow with abundance.” God blesses the year with the fruits of his love. A new perspective has us seeing God’s provision and generosity despite what our circumstances are. The proper perspective is realizing that no matter how bad our life seems to be going, we are still undeservingly blessed. That’s our problem. From our human perspective life stinks. Often times that’s because we have the attitude of, I deserve, I’m owed, I’m entitled to. That vantage point is incorrect. Humanism says, ‘the end of all being is the happiness of man’, Christianity says, ‘the end of all things is the glory of God’. It’s not about us. It’s not about God making us happy. It’s about us glorifying God. Does God make us happy? Yes, but as a by product, not as a prime product. It’s not about what you can get from God; it’s about what he can get from you. Our perspective heading into the New Year should be all about God, because that’s what he deserves from us. Consider this statement from Paris Reidhead: “Lord Jesus, I’m going to obey you and love you and serve you and do what you want me to do as long as I live even if I go to hell at the end of the road because you are worthy to be loved, obeyed and served.” Do we love and serve God because he has promised us eternal life? ‘Well, who would serve God if they weren’t going to heaven? I might as well live for me and sin as much as I want’. For most of us that would seem like a sensible statement. But, if we are like that we’ve missed the reason we should love and serve God. It’s not because we are getting something in return, it’s because he is God. He is almighty, he is holy and we are not. Therefore he deserves to have me worship him regardless of what I get in return. If we really understand that we will see our relationship with God in a new perspective.