Before we launch out on yet another New Year, it is important to take some time to reflect on the past year. Have you taken the time to consider all of the many blessings God has given to you, both temporal and spiritual, over the past 365 days? To be sure, each year has both its ups and downs…highs and lows, but through it all we know that our God is good and all things are ultimately working together for our good.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
The first thing we need to do before we claim the promise of this verse, is to make sure we understand who this verse is speaking about. It is not speaking about the unbeliever who knows not and loves not the Lord Jesus Christ. It is speaking about those who love God and have been called, raised from death to life, according to His purposes. The promise of this verse is reserved for those who have removed themselves from the throne of their lives and given Jesus His rightful place.
Now it is also important to notice what this verse does not say. It does not say that all things are good. It says that all things work together for our good, but not everything is good. There is a lot of bad out there and some of it happens to all of us each year:
- Career collapse
- Health concerns
- Relationship breakdown
- Family strife
- Prodigal children
- Loss of finances
- Loss of a loved one
The list is endless and all of it is a result of sin. Bad stuff happens in this life because of the first sin of the first people on the face of this earth, Adam and Eve. When Adam and Eve fell, we all fell because they were the representatives of all mankind. Not only did their sin affect us, it affected all of creation. Everything in this world is broken and that includes you and me. Yet, God is working everything together for our good and that is reason enough to pause, reflect, and celebrate the goodness of our Great God regardless of the circumstances of the past year. The fact that you are reading this right now is proof that God is not finished with you yet, so praise Him for the past year in spite of painful providences.
But now it is time to look ahead and move forward into another year of possibility if God is so pleased to give to us the next 12 months. A great question to ask and answer before we launch out on another year of life is this:
Regardless of what life throws our way, how different do we want to be at the end of this year?
You see, we simply cannot control what happens around us. But we sure can, to an altogether unsuspecting extent, control what is going on inside of us. What we think is a product of what we believe and if we believe all things are working together for our good, we will find the good in all things. Like Joseph who found the good in all the bad his brothers had done to him, we too can do the same if we keep our eyes on God and off of our circumstances. In the circumstances of life we want to be continually asking God, “What do you want me to learn?” and “What do you want me to do with what I learn?” regarding the stuff of life that is coming our way. Knowing that nothing happens to us without first passing through nail-scarred hands is to know that God is seeking our ultimate good regardless of the storm winds that are blowing. And that is to be a source of great comfort throughout this New Year as God is making a New You.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezekiel 36:26-27
Because God has given you a new heart and put a new spirit in you, He is making a new you. He is conforming you into the image of His beloved Son, and He is doing it by any means necessary. And He will not stop short of completing what He started. I pray that the start of another New Year would fill you with a new excitement about the “new things” God has promised to do. New opportunities. New possibilities. New challenges. New mercies each day. And most importantly, He has promised a NEW YOU, one that will reflect more and more of the character of Christ, which will be for God’s glory and the good of others…all others…including you!
HAPPY NEW YEAR! HAPPY NEW YOU!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!