“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) The New Year (Tom Edwards)
2) A New Year, A New Beginning (poem, anonymous)
The New Year
The start of a New Year can be an exciting time of possibilities. It can motivate many into making New Year’s resolutions that will improve their lives – and man has been prompted by this for a long time. It is said that the ancient Babylonians began making New Year’s resolutions 4,000 years ago and would also observe that first day of the year with celebration.
But I wonder, though, if they were any better at keeping those resolutions.
If you are not of that 8% in our time who actually do keep their New Year’s resolutions, why not realize that every day is also a new day to make good changes that lead to a better life! We do not have to wait until a new year begins.
Sometimes just one day can make a great deal of difference. I’m reminded of how this is seen in the words of the psalmist: He declares, “…Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning” (Psa. 30:5). How refreshed, and ready for a new day, we can often be by a good night’s rest. And when a day brings trouble and sadness, we can hope for a better tomorrow and realize its possibility.
I once heard a preacher ask the congregation, “What was your biggest problem a year ago?” Often, folks don’t even remember what it was that had once troubled them so. Time itself has a way of healing. And even when that problem is remembered, the pain, distress, and other terrible feelings that had once accompanied it are also greatly reduced – if not completely gone.
A Nielsen’s research in January 2015 resulted in the following for the kind of New Year’s Resolutions many people are making:
1) Stay fit and healthy (37%)
2) Lose weight (32%)
3) Enjoy life to the fullest (28%)
4) Spend less, save more (25%)
5) Spend more time with family/friends (19%)
6) Get organized (18%)
7) Will not make any resolutions (16%)
8) Learn something new/new hobby (14%)
9) Travel more (14%)
10) Read more (12%)
From these, we do see many good resolutions that one could make – many good things for the body and the mind. But what about our soul? Should we not also be concerned for taking care of that each day of every year? Yes, our bodies and minds need food and exercise; but our souls also need a spiritual food and involvement. When Jesus’ body was beginning to starve to death after a 40-day fast, and the devil tempted Him by saying, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread,” the Lord responded, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD’” (Matt. 4:4). Let us, therefore, be in the habit of studying God’s word daily — and applying it, that we may live by it and have its life in us. For Jesus says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (Jn. 6:63). And even so were the words of the Father to Jesus. For He explains, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (Jn. 4:34). After urging the brethren to not “receive the grace of God in vain,” Paul then declares, “for He says, ‘AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.’ Behold, now is ‘THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,’ behold, now is ‘THE DAY OF SALVATION’” (2 Cor. 6:1,2).
What better thing could you do this day for your soul – if your soul needs saving – than to have all of your sins blotted out by the precious blood of Jesus Christ and to maintain that kind of relationship with God?
For though there is some good in striving to improve our physical bodies with diet and exercise, yet look at where Paul puts the emphasis in 1 Timothy 4:7-8: “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
I feel good about taking care of myself, avoiding junk foods, eating healthier, keeping up with some exercise; but what makes that even better is in having a relationship with God. For then, no matter how much you can enjoy your life on earth, you can also know that the best is yet to come!
May we be thankful for each new day that God blesses us with, and take heed to Paul’s exhortation: “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:15-17).
While we are here on earth in this realm of time, we are to prepare ourselves for that great eternity that is to come. We should be heavenly minded. As Jesus instructs: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).
It is also in this same passage where the Lord continues to show the need for this heavenly-mindedness: For rather than being worried about even the necessities of life (food, drink, and clothing), we should instead “…seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:33-34).
“Therefore if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3). This, of course, is another emphasis passage. It does not mean that we are not to have any thoughts pertaining to earthly things, but it is the spiritual things of God that need to be exalted above all else.
How do we seek first God’s kingdom and those things that are above? We do that by looking to God’s word and making the right application of it in our lives. And let us strive to do this each day of every year. Though for some that might seem like a long time, yet how short it will actually be compared to eternity! So no greater resolution can we make at any time than to simply submit our lives to Christ through obedience to His gospel and strive to be faithful unto Him throughout each day of which the Lord blesses us.
Let us all have that kind of resolve that we see in Joshua who declared to the people of his time: “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh. 24:15).
(All Scripture from the NASB.)
A New Year, A New Beginning
The old year ends, a new begins
With pages clean and new;
And what is written on each page
will now depend on you.
You can’t relive the year that’s past,
Erasing every wrong;
For once a year – or day – is spent,
It is forever gone.
But don’t give up in dark despair
If you have failed some test;
Seek God’s forgiveness and resolve
Henceforth to do your best.
Resolve each precious day to do
Things good and kind and pure;
Though days and years may pass away,
These things shall still endure.
You know not where your path may lead
Nor what’s beyond the hill;
But know that God walks at your side,
If you will do His will.
All things are possible with God,
Though days be bright or dim;
So do your best and know that you
Can leave the rest to Him.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)