John Anderson with his wife
January 02, 2014We have a familiar proverb that goes, "Out with the old, in with the new." The New Year, which is fast approaching (Where did 2013 go?), is a good time to reflect on that theme.
The beginning of our calendar year, January 1, is somewhat arbitrary. We know that the solar year, which is the length of time it takes for earth to make its circuit around the sun, is approximately 365 and a quarter days long. But when we choose to mark that off as coming to an end and start another year is preferential. Other cultures have designated different dates as being the start of their "New Year." For us, January 1 is the honored day.
The New Year is a time when we give thought to worthy resolutions. Often though, we fail to follow through on our intention. We need a little more "finishiative" along with the "initiative." Someone mockingly said, "A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other." Nevertheless, it is a good time to think of beginnings and making a new start.
For Bible Christians, this shouldn't be too difficult. God's Word is filled with appeals and challenges to let God make us new. For example, we read in II Corinthians "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he (or she) is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." II Corinthians 5:17.
In addition to God's Gift to us in sending Jesus to die for our sins on the cross, He promises to help us in our Christian walk in putting away the things of the former life and growing in grace. How great is that!
Along with that thought, we might note that the Bible presents our life in Christ not as "repairing" what was old, but giving us a completely new start. God's not "fixing" or "patching" our sinful hearts; He's giving us a "new heart."
Jesus put it this way. "No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins." Mark 2:21, 22.
The "new wine" of which He spoke is the Gospel, and the new "wineskin" is our heart," made new by the power of His Spirit. He does this by actually changing the pattern of our thinking, so that our thoughts beat in the rhythm of His mighty heart of agape love.
Paul referred to this when he wrote, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2.
The word "transformed" in that text is the root of our word "metamorphosis." In what context do we use that word? That's the word we use to describe what happens when a worm becomes a butterfly. It's a complete change; a total make-over. That's what God plans to do in our lives! He wants to make us "new"!
He does this by first changing the way we think, which affects our behavior, which leads to habits, which develop character. A Christ-like character is the goal of the Gospel. It's the only thing from this earth we'll take to heaven; not our bank accounts, not our possessions, not our clothes, and certainly not these mortal bodies. Only our characters will go with us to heaven, which God proposes to make new by His wondrous grace, if we will give Him permission to do so.
The Bible uses the word "new" often. We read of a "new and living way," that is, the way of salvation in Christ. Hebrews 10:20. God accepts us and forgives us through the "new covenant," ratified by the blood of Jesus. Hebrews 12:24. Knowing that we're His children puts a "new song" in our hearts. Psalm 40:3.
We look forward to living in the city which He has prepared, the "New Jerusalem," which will come to rest in a "new earth," purified of all defilement and sin. Revelation 21:1, 2. What a glorious inheritance awaits those who put their trust in Jesus! Why not make this January 1 the beginning of such a future?
Let us consider a few suggestions on how to make the New Year meaningful in your walk with the Lord. There's something powerful in reading from God's Holy Word, the Bible. Someone said, "Read the Bible every day, read the Bible every year." What that means is that we should read a portion of the Scriptures every day, with the goal of reading through the entire Bible in a year.
Now, that might seem like a prodigious objective; a task too big to accomplish. But did you know that if you read only 3 or 4 chapters a day, you'll read through the entire Bible in a year! Besides this, "aim at nothing, you hit it every time." Do you realize how many who call themselves Christians have never, in their lifetime, read through the Holy Bible, God's appointed Sourcebook of life? Why not covenant to read His Word each day. Any day would be a good day to start, but January 1 seems to be a good time. You will be blessed beyond measure!
Why not make this a new start by employing healthful principles, through His grace, recognizing that our bodies are God's temple. Temperance, which is the "judicious use of that which is good and the abstinence of that which is harmful," is a teaching that is founded on the sound principles of Scripture. Because of Creation and because of the Cross, God claims us as His own.
"Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." I Corinthians 6:19, 20.
May God be with us in this New Year. Let Him be the One who implements the "out with the old, in with the new" thinking and lifestyle. It will be to His glory, and we will be truly blessed.