Ringing in the New Year

How many of you look at January 1st as a continuation of God’s blessings?  Or, do you find yourself in the opposing camp where you boldly shout from the roof tops, “Sayonara 2016! Adios! Good riddance to the last 365? Often times, so many of us focus on all the negative that the past year brought our way versus acknowledging the blessings we were able to experience. We lack gratitude. We tend to be laser focused on all the things that God did NOT do for us versus giving gratitude for all the things He did do.

It truly is amazing how powerful one little flip of a calendar page can be to so many of us.  The impending New Year carries fresh excitement, refreshment, energy and renewed hope. We are about half way through the first month of the New Year and for many of us who set out with high hopes, big, audacious goals and New Year’s resolutions, we are probably feeling some degree of regret or disappointment already.  How quickly the “newness” fades away. Chances are, whatever we set out to accomplish two weeks ago has already morphed into a different version of the original plan.

Now, hear me. There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals or tweaking things and course correcting to set us up for more success.  Even carrying a hopeful attitude into the New Year is a healthy posture as long as our HOPE is placed in the right person (Jesus Christ) versus in the right things. Do you see where I am going with this? The real problem ensues when we decide to only consult with ourselves when concocting these grandiose plans and fairytale endings. We tend to prioritize and overemphasize our own personal wants and hearts desires while relying too heavily on our own strength and abilities.  What do you think would happen if we began planning our New Year by having a good, honest conversation with the Lord before we hit January 1st?  We are so quick to blame God when things don’t go well or they don’t go the way WE think they should.  Do you find yourself approaching His throne humbly before you start making your own plans or do you delight in pointing the finger and throwing around blame when life does not live up to your expectations or plans do not unfold in your desired timing?

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”(Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

I’ll be honest, I have not always found myself to be a joyous member of the Gratitude camp.  I can remember many New Year’s Eves thinking “It’s all going to be better in the morning!” or “Tomorrow will be the first day of _________” fill in whatever phrase you like best.  I was living in a constant state of tension between the past, present and future.  I was constantly wrestling for control and trying to force my agenda on God and demanding He honor my requests, as if mine were better and more appropriate than His, the King of the World, Author and Perfector of our Faith. Sounds a little crazy, doesn’t it? But how many of us do this EVERY…SINGLE…DAY? We invest so much time in our thoughts, goals, plans and strategies that we forget to include the most influential and powerful factor of all into our equation…the Will of God.

Nothing that I said thus far has been rocket science.  If you are a Believer and have grown up in the church, all of these words are familiar.  I like to call this our head knowledge.  But real, transformational change occurs when we begin making connections between what our head knows and what our heart truly believes.  Words become beliefs and beliefs evolve into action and action and obedience lead to true change.  Consulting with the Lord about His will for our lives sounds great, wonderful and even simplistic, right?  However, our humanness will try to get in the way.  Trusting ourselves and making our own plans is fallen human nature.  According to Ephesians 3:20 “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (NIV).   The Lord will never fail us or disappoint us.  Furthermore, He is waiting to blow your socks off!  However, it requires reckless abandon of self and stepping out of the safety boat and audaciously walking on water towards Christ.

It is never too late into the New Year to make another life changing goal.

Today, why don’t we decide together, to ask the Lord to give us less of ourselves and more of Him and His will for the next 300+ days and beyond?

What would happen if we fervently prayed the Lord’s Prayer and faithfully prayed, in full confidence and expectation, the phrase “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven?”

LeRyiah Arant

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