Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Beginnings - January 1, 2017

Psalm 118:24 - This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Many make new year's resolutions, while most hold little hope they will keep them. The problem with resolutions of this kind is they are inflicted with self-will which horribly handicap a favorable outcome. Oftentimes, they are things folks believe they SHOULD do ... like eating less, exercising, quitting smoking, and so on. However, these desires are more likely born out of a sense of guilt rather than from a genuine epiphany to change for the better. Change that is born out of perceived necessity often results in resentment. For instance, our doctor may tell us to lose a few pounds in order to live a better quality of life. While we may agree with our physician on this point, it is easier said than done. That late evening snack or that piece of pie after a meal seem to entice us as never before once we know what we SHOULD do. We may begin to resent those who don't need restraint in this area of their life and we might look with envy on their ability to take in calories indiscriminately. Unless we are stalwart in our resolve, it is easy to cave in to compromise and to justify why we are not as deserving as the next person to indulge in a "little" excess.

Dictionary.com defines resolve as "coming to a definite or earnest decision about a particular outcome". While this sounds good regarding a desired effect, the catalyst or the power behind this decision is critical concerning its conclusion. While one may set their mind in resolution to complete a task, the heart is what will more often carry it out (or not). For believers in Christ, this inner resolve comes most effectively through the working of the Holy Spirit. For it is God who is at work in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). As our mind, emotion, and our will (e.g. our soul) gets in line with God, then our new found resolutions collide with our old habits. Our sin nature cannot tolerate these new resolves so it must either surrender to God or usurp God's authority. (This struggle is depicted by the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:14-25.) No matter how "definite" or "earnest" we might be regarding our desire to rule over our old habits, they simply will not die easily. However, if we will take the high ground and defend our position with the word of truth and a song of praise, then we will indeed win the day.

Our lead verse clearly establishes a premise for creating a new beginning daily that will enable us to stay strong in HIS resolve. First of all, the psalmist declares the sovereignty of God over time. He states that "this is the day which the Lord has made". If He made this day, He has surely made all previous days and any yet to come. This simple declaration of God's ownership of time means that God is in control of whatever happens in our lives today, if we will but allow Him that right. By acknowledging the Holy Spirit within, we are declaring the Almighty as the Lord of our lives and therefore the Lord over all my "old ways" as well as my present and future resolves. All must be placed in His care. We must simply surrender the outcome to Him. If we fail or win in our day to day battle with sin then we humbly place both our failures and our successes in His hands and rejoice in Him. If we have experienced the victory today, then we should rejoice! If we have struggled and fallen short, then we must still rejoice in the victory yet to come for He will not forsake us. If we continue to give ourselves to Him in humility, He will bring us to that "large place" where there is freedom and fellowship with our Lord (Psalm 118:5).

Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand (Psalm 149:6). Once we recognize that the day is the Lord's, our only obligation is to praise Him while we weld the sword of the Spirit (or the word of truth [Ephesians 6:17]). If we praise the Lord in the resolve that is born in His heart, and humbly use His word to contradict the guilt and lies of the evil one, then we will know the victory no matter how long it may seem to take. While some will give up after a few short weeks regarding their new year resolutions, God's people should never faint regarding the timeline of deliverance from the old life. If we are in Christ, we are new creatures ... period! (II Corinthians 5:17) It is our heritage as believers to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us in His manner. We are being changed into His likeness if we are humbly submitting ourselves daily to His loving hand. As we give ourselves to His resolve, then we needn't worry about the outcome. He is the One who owns the day, the year, and our lifetime ahead. We must simply trust Him to complete the work He has so illustriously begun in all who call Him Lord.

Heavenly Father, thank You that You own the day! Thank You that You are our Lord and that You live in us to will and to work for Your good pleasure. Allow us to live, and move, and have our being in Your resolve in this coming year. Give us the grace to experience Your love in both our failings and our victories. For with You, there will only be success if we faint not. Give us Your strength as we rejoice in You this day. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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