Jump Start # 3481
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
Here we are, two days into a brand new year. What will this year bring? Will it be good? Will it be better than last year? Will it be a hard year? Maybe one of the hardest we have ever faced? There are all kinds of plans already in motion for this new year. Some will be getting married this year. It’s a busy time finalizing all the details. Some will be having a baby this year and that will certain bring much joy and change to a family. Some will be off to college for the first time this year. Some will be wrapping up college and embarking on a fulltime job. Some will be retiring this year, ending a long career in their field and trying to figure out what to do next.
Congregations have lots of plans for this coming year. I know we do. Themes, inviting speakers, special classes and workshops, all with the hopes of helping the congregation grow stronger and closer together.
In our passage today, Paul shows us the spiritual transition that takes place when one becomes a Christian. Old things have passed away. New things have come. The person is now a new creature. He’s a different person. He’s following Jesus. His outlook, his attitude, his hope, his purpose and even his dreams have all changed. He is interested in being with the Lord. Much of the things that defined his life, no longer do. Keeping up with others, being average, just isn’t in his thought process anymore. He’s a child of God. He’s Heaven bound. He’s living by purpose and walking by faith. On the outside he looks the same, but he’s a different person. He’s a better person. It didn’t take flipping a calendar to accomplish this. These changes take place throughout the year. And, these changes are not one in done. The is constantly shaping his heart to be like the Lord.
As we launch into a new year, here are some thoughts for us:
First, it may be time to leave some things behind. This may even include some people. W have dragged attitudes, habits and friends with us for a long, long time. And, some of those things are the very things that are keeping us from being close to the Lord. Hebrews tells us to lay aside every encumbrance. These things slow us down. These things pull our attention and our eyes away from the Lord. They may not be wrong things, but they become wrong because of the impact they require and the time we devote to them. Too much TV. Too many video games. Too much Facebook. Are those things wrong? Nope. But, one can easily shoot a lot of time on those things and when we are done, we are none the better.
There are some people in our lives that it may be time to put some distance between. Every time we are with them, we feel discouraged, beat up emotionally, having to apologize for things we didn’t do and burdened with the guilt they keep pouring on us. And, why? Why do we continually allow ourselves to get drawn in gossiping about others, putting others down, going negative and complaining? Why? Maybe it’s time to dump some friends and find better ones.
Second, it may be time to stretch our faith and get out of the box of normal and do something that can make a real difference. One doesn’t have to go back to school to have a deep dive into some religious topics. Get the books. Put some time into them and really study a book of the Bible. Look at words and chase where the meanings take you. Devote one evening a week for your new study. It will help you grow your faith.
Find a spot in the world that fascinates you and then find if there is a congregation there. Do some digging and some work. Get to know some of the people, especially if they are in a foreign country. Pour some resources such as supplying books or materials to those folks.
Get with someone in the congregation and have a deep one-on-one Bible study. Get beyond the basic 101 level and really explore, ask questions that no one asks and challenge one another. What a life changing experience this could be.
Third, get more out of worship. Try to sing without looking at the words. This makes you really think about the words. Take detailed notes of sermons. Write questions that come to your mind in classes and sermons and later on find those answers. Get to services early. Fellowship. Connect with others. Try to be there for others.
A new creature in Christ is a creation made by God and developed by our choices. Make this year, the best year. This may be your last year on this planet. Do well with your time. This may be the year that the Lord comes. More than just being ready, be anticipating. Don’t just grow older this year, grow better. Do better. Bring your best!