As we enter into a new year, it is a good time for us to reflect on the past year and then, direct our attention toward the new one. The New Year can be a new beginning in many ways for all of us.
It can be a time to abandon harmful habits and lifestyles. Relationships can be healed. Families can be drawn closer together. The New Year must also be a time of forgiveness toward others. If our walk with the Lord was less than it should have been, He is patiently waiting for us to restore our trust and dependence in Him. The list could go on and on.
Each of us should take the time to sit quietly with a note pad and write down all the ways we have been blessed by God. As the songwriter once wrote, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.” If we are honest and focus on them, the list will soon become very long. We all have been truly blessed beyond measure.
We must praise God and thank Him every day for His goodness, for abundantly providing for our needs, and for keeping us safe in the palm of His hand. Above all, we must humbly thank God for His matchless gift of salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and resurrection, freely offered to all who choose to reach out by faith alone to receive it.
The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah wrote these words as recorded in Lam. 3:22-23 NASB, “The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”
When we rise up each morning, a spirit of praise and thanksgiving should be in our hearts and on our lips. We need to say, “Thank you Lord for this day You have made. Thank You for allowing me to be a part of it. Help me to rejoice and be glad in it. Show me what You would have me do today that I might do it all for Your honor and glory.”
The psalmist penned these words in Ps. 34:1 NASB, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” In Eph. 5:18 the Apostle Paul tells us to thank God always for all things in the name of Jesus our Lord.
Psalm 103:1 instructs us to bless the holy Name of the Lord with all that is within us. This scripture simply means we are to be passionate in our thanksgiving, in our praise and in our desire to serve Him. Are we passionate in our desire to honor and serve Him?
Perhaps during the past year we did not allow God to be first in all things of our life. Maybe we have become complacent toward Him, or lack the desire for a personal relationship with Him as He requires of us. We must remember that God loves us and as Ps. 145:18 explains, He is near to all who call upon Him.
As we humbly seek His face in prayer, we must call out to Him as the psalmist wrote in Ps. 139:23-24 NASB, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Then in Ps. 51:10 NASB he writes this fervent prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
God’s requirements for His blessing on our lives include humility, prayer, devotion and repentance. When we become sincere and passionate in our desire to follow Him, then God will hear us, forgive our sins, answer our prayers and pour out His blessings on us. As promised in 2 Chron. 7:14-15 NKJV, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
I urge you to begin the New Year with a firm resolve to pray to the Lord and read His Word daily. As we do that, God will speak to us and reveal Himself to us in ways we can’t imagine. Talking with Him and studying scripture is not just a good idea. God commands us to do it. From 2 Tim. 2:15, we are to be diligent in our study of scripture to accurately know the word of truth. We are told in 1 Thess. 5:17 to pray without ceasing. Jesus said in Matt. 6:5 NASB, “When you pray...” Notice that He didn’t say “if” you pray. He said “when” you pray.
Clearly, it’s impossible for us to have a personal relationship with someone we don’t know or understand. If we don’t talk with God as we would talk to a close friend, or listen to what He has to say through the scriptures, then a relationship with Him simply cannot exist. However, those who truly know Him as their Savior and Lord have placed their complete dependence and trust in Him. They have comfort through prayer and His written Word. He is their friend, their guide, their Savior and Master, and their blessed hope for all eternity.
If you have never been born again (John 3:3) by deliberately inviting Jesus into your heart and life, you can do that today. When you have Him in your life, you will truly experience a new beginning because all things will change forever.
However, before you can do that you must understand that you are a sinner in the eyes of God and need the Savior in your life. You must be ready to humbly cry out, “Oh God help me! I am a lost sinner! I need You in my life! Oh God help me now!”
Then just open your heart to Him. Don’t worry about saying everything perfectly. As long as it comes from your heart, He will hear you. When you pray just say something like this, “Dear God, I realize that I am a lost sinner. You sent Your Son Jesus to shed His blood and die on the cross for me in my place. I believe what You did for me and want my sins forgiven and washed away. I confess them to You now and invite Jesus into my heart and life as my Savior and Lord. Help me to turn away from my old ways and lead a life that is pleasing to You. Thank You for saving me today in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Whether you just said a prayer to give your heart to the Lord, or perhaps you have simply re-dedicated your life to Him, nothing will ever be the same as you live for Him. He will put His strong arms around you and will lead you by the hand as you go through the trials of life.
Jer. 29:11-13 NASB, “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
When you begin the New Year with the Lord by your side, it will truly be a new beginning for you like none other, and it will be for all eternity. Praise God for His amazing grace!