“We too may live a new life.” Romans 6:4 NIV.
Your choices today shape your life tomorrow.
My thoughts and comments today are about “new life.”
A New Year always seems a brief but welcome invitation to a fresh start. In the change of calendar, an opportunity is presented to change what has been and what can be. The Apostle Paul told the Christians in Rome that their faith in Christ provided the possibility and power that, “we too may live a new life.” Read Romans 6:4-11 NIV. In my spiritual journey, the beginning of a year has often been pivotal.
When just ten years old, I made a life-long decision to know and serve Jesus. In a New Year’s Revival in my father’s church, Mrs. Rice, a Sunday School teacher, asked to pray with me. In the first days of 1952, I committed my young life to Jesus and found the “new life” the Bible promises.
Years later as an adult and pastor in San Jose, California, and in the first minutes of January 1975, an elderly church member, Mrs. Eaton, was going home from the New Year’s Eve service when she asked her husband to turn around and return to the church. God had given her a message for me. Everyone but the janitor and I were already gone as she walked down the center aisle of that semi-darkened church, straight toward me. She told me how God had spoken to her, took my hands in hers, looked deep into my eyes, and said, “Pastor Allen, God asked me to tell you, ‘He loves you, and He is not finished with you.’” With that, she turned and left me alone with God.
Everything changed inside my heart. Apart from God, she could not have known what I had told no one. With the New Year, I would seek a career in business. That would have been a tragic mistake, forever altering the direction of my life and diminishing the destiny of our family. When I think of our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren today, I am grateful for the mercies and faithfulness of God. In those earliest minutes of a New Year, God’s personal word to me of His care and calling continues to shape my life and our family today. Again, I found a fresh measure of “new life” in Christ.
Only God could have known that in the spring of that same year, the invitation to pastor Trinity Church here in San Antonio would be extended to me, where Gayle and I continued to serve joyfully for more than 36 years. God’s faithfulness in those first moments of a new year protected me and our family from an error of judgment that would have changed everything about our lives since. Remember. The choices you make today shape your future as well as the future of others. Choose prayerfully and carefully. Being in the right place at the right time doing the right thing is more consequential than you can foresee.
The world anticipates this New Year in hope of things being better, their lives being different than they were. A change of calendar changes nothing without a significant, spiritual change in your heart. You will not embrace new life fully until you are sick and tired of who you’ve been. The problem is that things once done are not easily undone. You alone cannot alter the past; the good news is that with God’s help, you can. “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal . .” Read Philippians 3:13-14 NIV.
Real change is not cosmetic; it requires a different course and transformed character. My friend and mentor, Kenny, always reminded me and others, “You won’t have a New Year without becoming a new you.” These earliest, beginning moments of a new year offer an opportune time to lay old things aside and begin anew, experiencing a fresh start and lasting change. What do you need to change for you to be new again?
The church and every Christ-follower can celebrate the New Year, grateful to God that He has taken away the old mistakes and sins of your past, and given forgiveness and a fresh start in Christ. “If anyone is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation; the old has gone; the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV. You can embrace God’s promise and power for “new life” any time you are ready and willing.
God’s Word gives good advice for your transition into the New Year, “Lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of faith . .” Hebrews 12:1-2 NAS. I bid farewell to the year just past, grateful for God’s faithfulness and provision; I embrace this new year anticipating God’s gracious providence and wondrous possibilities.
Today, I pray for you to release anything that hurts or hinders your spiritual progress.