The New Year has arrived and for many it’s a time for making resolutions and new beginnings—trying to set aside bad habits and/or adopt new, beneficial routines. Unfortunately, for most people it’s nearly impossible to succeed in such endeavors.
A Forbes Magazine article published in January 2013 reported on a study conducted at the University of Scranton. It indicated that only about 8 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions achieve their goals. Looking at this a different way, 92 percent fail!
Despite the slim chance of succeeding, many will continue to make New Year’s resolutions year after year. I confess that I’m guilty. Last year I made a resolution to lose 10 pounds—I now have only have 15 pounds to go (sigh).
The Bible is full of promises and stories about new beginnings. (all citations ESV)
- Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
- Ezekiel 36:26 – “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
- John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
- Ephesians 4:22-24 – “…the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
- 1 Peter 1:3 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
- Revelation 21:5 – “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true’.”
Fortunately for us all, God makes new beginnings and he never fails if we will simply let him do His work. His greatest new beginning was foretold in the Old Testament, described in the Gospels, and recounted in the Epistles. It was God’s gift of His son Jesus to save us from our sins.
Christ’s salvation of mankind was completed over 2,000 years ago through Jesus’ crucifixion. His resurrection from the dead on the third day is evidence of Jesus’ victory over Sin and Death.
Jesus died to cleanse all mankind from their sins. For those who don’t already know him, that salvation is like a beautifully wrapped present sitting beneath a Christmas tree. The present has no owner until someone opens it, takes what is inside, and makes it their own.
St. Paul describes how to do this in his epistle to the Romans. There is no long list of do’s and don’ts. God’s plan of salvation is beautiful in its simplicity, requiring only confession and sincere belief.
“…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9-10
Martin Luther wrote about what it means to be “justified” before god, saying that justification is a “… righteousness that God gives freely by His grace to people who don’t have righteousness of their own.” Even though those who have accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation will continue to sin, because of Christ’s sacrifice they remain righteous in the eyes of God.
It is my hope that you have already received this free gift. If not, however, please consider making it your own today!
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace there
will be no end, on the throne of David and over his
kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice
and with righteousness from this time forth and
forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.