“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
How many times have you created a list of New Years' Resolutions? Quite honestly, I have created lists, made plans, and assured myself I would stay strong and persevere many times over the years. Most of them were along the lines of exercising, losing weight, eating healthy, and maybe reading x number of books.
I recently read a study done by Gallup which stated that “By mid-February, 80% of the people who set New Year's resolutions will have abandoned them -- no matter how large or small the goal.” I will most certainly tell you that I have fallen into that 80% many years. And most years I didn’t even make it to February before I dropped the ball. Yet, year after year, I still seemed to set those resolutions mostly because I love new beginnings, fresh starts, and clean slates.
However, years ago I changed my direction on New Year’s Resolutions. My thoughts shifted from how can I improve myself for earthly gain to how can I live my life more devoted to God’s plan or me. For those of you that have already and will compile a list of improvements for 2023, I am not, in any way, trying to deter you from that or insinuate that it’s wrong. Resolutions can be fun, challenging, and motivational for many. I would just simply like to challenge you to think through your list and first consider your motivations before settings your goals for the new year that has now greeted us. And second; remind yourself daily that we can accomplish nothing on our own strengths.
The Bible speaks of newness often. New life, new creation, new self, new heavens, new earth, new spirit, and a new heart to name a few. But how is the new in each of these instances made possible? In every single one of these verses, we see that it is only achieved through the Almighty God. We are all powerless on our own, but the day that we give our lives to Christ and surrender to His plan we become a NEW creation only because of the power of Him that is now working in us. This doesn’t change because we decided to make a resolution that we would be made new. The change comes from our dedication and devotion to walking daily with Christ. The beauty of this newness that we find in Jesus is that we don’t have to wait on January 1st to find this rest. God is waiting and desires for all His children to turn away from the old life lived for the passions of this world and walk towards the new life of surrender and obedience to Christ.
Once I transitioned away from setting New Year’s Resolutions I moved toward daily resolutions. You see, each year I would make goals for myself in hopes of accomplishing them. Many of them would fall into that 80% and I would be left discouraged, disappointed, and somewhat defeated. And while there were a few that I followed through with fierce determination, I was never left with the joy I was longing for. That feeling of success was fleeting. These goals only proved to offer a temporary change in certain areas of my life. Did some of them better me as a person? Yes absolutely, but still I wasn’t finding a lasting or sustainable newness because I was relying on my own strength. Therefore, I shifted to daily resolutions because I realize that each day that I’m given by God is a new day to live out the purpose He has for me. This new day is a gift from my heavenly Father and there is purpose in it. And the achievement and understanding of that purpose is only accomplished through His strength working through me and never on my own.
You see, instead of waiting on a new year on my calendar, my daily resolution is that now I discipline myself to begin and end my day with my Lord and Savior. I commit myself to praying before I ever open my eyes in the morning! Before anything has a chance to interfere with my thoughts or actions, I ask God that He would use me to reach the lost and further His kingdom. Because of this I am not left feeling inadequate and discouraged instead, He becomes my source of fulfillment because I know that my ultimate JOY is found in Him. My day doesn’t always go according to plan –actually it rarely ever goes according to plan, but I can rest knowing that my day has been surrendered to Christ and that He is in control. My prayer for you is that you can spend the month of January and every month following that, seeking God for true Joy that can only be found by being His new creation.
This month’s blog posts will be based on ways to find Joy in January and every month that follows. Below is an idea of the prayer that I pray each and every morning.
Dear God, I’m praising you today because you are mighty, powerful, wonderful, and Holy. You are the first and the last, the beginning and the end. You are steadfast and unfailing in all your ways. I ask that you forgive me in the areas that I failed you yesterday and I thank you for a new day to be used by you to grow your Kingdom and not my own. Open my eyes to the needs around me and fill my heart with the passion to serve the ones around me and to be your hands and feet. My prayer is that you would make known to me your plan for me in this new day. Allow me the ability to seek and find my joy in you and not my circumstances in this world. Amen!
***This weeks Bible Reading plan and scripture memory challenge will be on newness. If you would like to receive the printable file, subscribe below and it will be sent to you everyMonday morning