Happy New Year! Lord, thank you for fresh starts. A clean slate. A new year! Year 2021 is God’s present to you.
Every year many people stay up later than usual to see the old year go out and the New Year come in. You can stay up and watch the ball drop on Times Square in New York. You can watch a strawberry, pickle, or sausage drop. A watermelon drops in Indiana. A pine cone drops in Arizona. A beach ball drops in Florida. A peach drops in Georgia. A 1000 lb. piece of cheese drops in Plymouth Wisconsin. That’s a lot of cheese.
The optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.
What is your attitude toward the New Year? Our attitude will have everything to do with whether 2021 ends up the way we would like it to. If you do not believe anything will change in 2021, it won’t.
Charles Swindoll says, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important: than facts, than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do, than appearances, than giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company. . . a church. . . a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one thing we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. . . We are in charge of our attitudes.”
Ephesians 5:15. “Be very careful then, how you live- not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.”
Be of good cheer. You can’t be of good cheer if you are constantly thinking about how bad and terrible the world is. If you are focused on doom and gloom you cannot enjoy the present moment. How can we ever let the world hear the good news if all we talk about is bad news? And we don’t just have good news, we have the best news ever.
Philippians 3:12-14. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Many people dwell on their past failures, mistakes, and sins so much that they become paralyzed. Paul is telling us that we can turn our past sins and failures over to God and start moving “forward to what lies ahead.”
Someone once said, “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.” We fell down the first time we tried to walk. We probably almost drowned the first time we tried to swim. Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs. R. H. Macy failed seven times before his New York department store finally caught on. We are all human. We make mistakes. We sin. We fail. But what is worse, is missing the opportunities that God puts in front of us because we are afraid to fail.
Let’s follow Paul’s example here, ” forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”
In Philippians 3:14 Paul says, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” In other words, Paul’s number one priority was the Kingdom of Heaven! He was running straight toward that goal, and he was not going to let anything distract him from it.
Picture this. Take a one-gallon, wide mouthed Mason. Put in about a dozen tennis-ball-sized rocks. When the jar is filled to the top and no more rocks will fit inside, ask yourself, “Is this jar full?” You would probably say “yes”.
Then I am going to give you a bucket of gravel. Dump it into the jar and shake it letting the pieces of gravel work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Ask yourself, “Is the jar full now?”
But then, I hand you a bucket of sand. Dump the sand in and let it fill all the spaces between the rocks and the gravel. Ask yourself again, “Is this jar full now?”
Now I hand you a pitcher of water. Pour in the water until the jar is filled to the brim.
What’s the point? The truth is this: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.
What are the big rocks in your life? As you look ahead over this coming year, what are your priorities? Jesus said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” Matthew 6:33. Drawing closer to God through worship, spending time with Him in prayer, and seeking His guidance for your life by reading His Word. These should be the big rocks in your jar.
Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the whole armor of God. “Be strong in the lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Do you believe good or evil is winning the day? If you believe evil is winning then you are saying that evil is stronger than good, the devil is more powerful than God. Jesus Christ has overcome the world. Jesus brought the kingdom of God into the world, and it has been advancing ever since. Jesus said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing” Matthew 11:12.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Do you love life? Then do not squander time for that is the stuff that life is made of.” It was Abraham Lincoln who first said, “The leading rule for a man of every calling is diligence; never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
In 2021, look beyond the sins and failures of yesterday; learn from them, repent of them, and then move forward. Put God at the top of your list every day. Worship Him. Study His Word. Put His Kingdom first in your life and everything else will fall into place. Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
Remember the advice Jesus gave about just taking care of today and not biting off tomorrow’s troubles? “Each day has challenges enough of its own!” he said. Matthew 6:34
This New Year:
Leave resentment behind. The one that suffers from un-forgiveness is you. You were not meant to carry that load from year to year. Hurts need to be given to the Lord, not carried around.
Leave worries behind. Worries take up time and energy and have no positive outcome. Over 90 % of what we worry about never happens. Some things need to be changed. Some things cannot be changed. Pray that the Lord shows you how to deal with both.
Leave your failures behind. If we are in Christ, we are not failures. No matter how many setbacks, Christ puts you back on your feet.
Father, Give us a new year. Not just a new number, but a truly new year. Give us a year full of new things, new adventures, new attitudes, and visions. Lord, give us a new year full of new ideas and refresh some of our old ideas. Give us new relationships and renew old relationships, and restore relationships that have been broken. Give us a new memory. Give us a new image of Your Son, and help us to show His image to those who are new to You. Give us new thoughts.
The year that is just ending was difficult for some of us. There were struggles and frustrations, and disappointments that we did not handle so well. Give us a better mentality and better spiritual insight that will help us deal with the struggles, frustrations and disappointments that will come in this New Year. Give us a year that is not controlled by fear.
Give us a year filled with new love. A new love for You. A new love for each other. A new love for Your Kingdom. A new love for strangers. A new love for the helpless. A new love for the needy. A new love for poor. A new love for rich. A new love for all people.
Help us put the old one to bed. Help us to leave the things of the past in the past. Help us look forward. Help us look beyond what we can see to what You have planned for us that we cannot see. Help us move forward with confidence and courage and humility and gentleness. Help us, in this New Year to completely surrender to You and what You have planned for us in this year filled with new things. Amen