January 5, 2015

Resolutions vs. Newness

Hello everyone! Here we are, our first FULL blog article of the year. I cannot believe we are five days into 2015! Time is already flying even faster this year. So before we get to the point that we don’t even realize months have passed us by, I want to talk to you today about a very important reminder…your new self, which you are graced with when you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.

There are two views we can take in this lifetime when it comes to the way we change, the goals we set, and the behaviors we modify. We can choose that of the world, or that of Jesus. The way I always think of it is by dissecting two specific words: newness and resolution. Resolution is temporary, it is done with good intentions but very little follow through, and it is something that we often do in order to look better to others and be held high or credited for our accomplishments. But is that what we want—recognition from the world? Maybe…but why? Can they save us? Can they plan our path for eternity? Will they even be here for us tomorrow when we wake up? Sadly, the answer to all of those is, no. Resolutions are fleeting, resolutions are worldly based, and resolutions are lighthearted promises to self or others.

But what if there were something more—what if there was such a thing as forever, permanent, genuine? There is…and his name is Jesus. He came to save us, and God graciously gave us His only begotten Son so that we might live and have everlasting life. Isn’t that a beautiful word…everlasting! So I like to focus on the word “newness”. Newness means a fresh start, a clean slate, a gift of another chance. Romans 6:4 (NASB version) tells us, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

The ultimate sacrifice, the maximum price. Jesus gave himself to pay for our sins: past, present, and future. He was pure, sinless, and perfect. We are the complete opposite of all of those things, yet his love for us knows no bounds, and he believes we are worth every lashing, every ridicule, every thorn, every drop of spit cast upon him. We…are…worth…it. He makes us new. It is nothing we do in or of ourselves, it is a gift he has willingly and lovingly bestowed upon us. Newness, a second chance (and sometimes third, fourth, hundredth, and so forth). When we accept Jesus our sinful selves and old habits and patterns are washed away and we become a brand new person from the inside out. Does this mean we will never sin again, we will never fall back into patterns, and we will immediately quit bad habits? Absolutely not. The Christian walk is the long and narrow one, full of many struggles, trials, and often a target on our back that Satan gladly aims at relentlessly. But we now have a Savior to walk us through the storms. We have a mighty protector and counselor who can help us to walk more like him in our attitudes, habits, behaviors, and choices.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) There is your proof, there is your confirmation. God himself shows us that when we accept Christ into our hearts, we will become new. Capable of things we never thought possible and able to walk through fire if we are called to for our purpose in God’s Kingdom. Through our own strength we cannot accomplish this, but with newness in Christ we are given something divinely important to our Christian walk: the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He is always there—protecting, watching, guiding, listening. But it is up to us to follow the Holy Spirit and allow our choices to align with God’s Will. God gave us free will for a reason, but He also gave us His instruction book (the Bible) as a step-by-step guide to the RIGHT way to walk through this life morally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He gives us every tool and every promise; newness in Christ comes when we use those tools and believe in those promises.

One of my favorite verses in the entire Bible can be found in John 15:5. The NET version says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me – and I in him – bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing.” Isn’t that a comforting Scripture? It really reminds us of just how small we are in the big scheme of things. Without God NOTHING is possible, and with God ALL things are possible. We are an extension of Him and His Holy attributes. He longs for us to become new creations and walk in the righteous path He has tenderly placed at our feet, though we do not even come close to deserving it. He wants us to live abundantly, bear fruit, and live life full of joy. But we cannot do that if the world is in us or if we are not willing to pick up our cross and die daily to who we are, in order to become who God has designed us to be.

So which will you choose—resolutions which point to a worldly tradition and are done fleetingly with no follow through, or newness which places before you the ability to store up treasures for heaven and the opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus and see our Heavenly Father face-to-face in eternity. I choose newness and the chance to live and love as Jesus did. I would love to have you on that same path, walking hand-in-hand with me as we enjoy abundant life and beauty with a new heart, mind, and soul.

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