Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It's the Year of the Rat. Lucky us.

Here on the rightcoast, it's 75 minutes into the New Year. Don't you love fresh starts? I'm sure we all do.

My 2007 was quite a year and full of many incredible and awesome experiences. Although I dealt with my share of problems and issues, the year drew to a close on a wonderful note of God's faithfulness and mercy.

In the past year, I said many goodbyes. I said goodbye to my best friend of nine years. I said goodbye to the first woman I ever truly loved. I said goodbye to my credit card debt once and for all. I said goodbye to many habits and traits that hindered me from running well in the race. I said goodbye to my dad.

Reflecting on those goodbyes is bittersweet. My heart aches for those I've said goodbye to but the memories are sweet and put a smile on my face. This New Year will be full of rich new experiences and fresh revelations of God's unmerited favor upon my life.

The word "new" appears 173 times in 153 different verses in the Bible (NKJV). Let's check out a few…

"Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy." Ps. 33:3

"He has put a new song in my mouth-- Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord." Ps. 40:3

""Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah… But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." Jer. 31:31, 33

"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. " Lam. 3:22-23

"Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh," Eze. 11:19

"For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Mat. 26:28

"And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;" Mark 16:17

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another." Jhn. 13:34

"Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us." 1 Cor. 5:7

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Cor. 5:17

"Put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Eph 4:24

Far out. You and I both have a New Year sitting in front of us today and that's awesome. I'm thankful to be alive and excited to see what's in store. However, I'm much more excited about the new stuff going on in those verses. I have a new song in my heart. I'm living in the new covenant life! I have a new spirit in me upon which God's laws are written. There are new words of life that I can now speak. I have a new commandment to love others around me. The old crap is being purged out so that a new work can be done. By God's grace, I've become a new creation and a new man.

Perhaps you have a resolution or two for '08. I have plenty. It's healthy to strive for improvement in our lives. The only resolution that I actually kept all year from 1/1/07 was flossing. Go figure. Well, at least my dentist is proud of me.

Here are the only resolutions that really matter though:

a) love God more passionately, authentically, and transparently

b) love other people around us consistently and sacrificially

c) reach out to the lost and bring them to Jesus

2007 is over. You and I can't go back and change it or relive it. However, we have 2008. Resolve with me to make it a great year. Seek the Lord. Love Him passionately. Learn what it means to actually love other people – especially the jerks (like me) that you want to punch in the throat. Homies, bros, chicas, friends, folks, people, LETS GO FOR IT. We've only got one shot at this year and then it's finished. Renew your vows to follow the Lord with all your heart. It's a fresh clean slate today. It's time to be all in or all out. It's nice in coffee but let's not do the half-and-half stuff in our Christian walks anymore. Are you guys with me? Let's follow Jesus for real this year.

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