Enter the new year with great expectations and faith!
3 life-changing resolutions to make today
It’s a new year, and with the new year comes new resolutions, or perhaps old ones which need to be repeated. Some people create resolutions every year, and some have quit trying. Are you ever curious to know the most popular resolutions? Here you go:
- Lose weight.
- Volunteer to help others.
- Quit smoking.
- Get a better education.
- Get a better job.
- Save money.
- Get fit.
- Eat healthy food.
- Manage stress.
- Manage debt.
- Take a trip.
- Reduce, reuse and recycle
Wouldn’t you love it if you didn’t have to make a resolution? What if you just woke up on January 1, looked in the mirror and BAM! You’re thin! You have money! You hear a knock on the door, and it’s your boss offering you a promotion and an all-inclusive, two-week vacation.
Life would be so much easier if the “New Year, New You” philosophy held weight. Some people start with the best intentions, but with unrealistic ambitions. They shoot for the moon. “I’m going to work out, every day, for 10 hours a day.” Such extreme commitments are an invitation to defeat.
However, for many of us, a new year does not yield dramatic changes. The debt you had yesterday, you still have today. The relationship challenges you experienced yesterday are still with you today. The extra pounds you put on from countless Christmas parties remain today.
Many of us delay until January 1 to make life altering changes. Why? Because it’s not pressing.
If you were caught in a burning building on October 12, would you wait until January 1 to try to get out?
So, what makes the new year so enticing, so alluring, so hopeful? What is it about the new year that restores hope and instills feelings of unlimited possibility? We enter the new year with great expectations and great faith. Why? Because we have assigned value to a day. We have attached our hope, expectations and anticipation to a day.
It is estimated that only 8% achieve their new year’s resolution. People quit their resolutions when they become frustrated and disillusioned because while it’s a new year, they’ve attached hope to a day and not a savior. It’s easy to declare a new season, but …
You must also be willing to step into the responsibility that season demands.
Despite our New Year’s resolution track record, a day really can make a difference. It’s not because WE assigned value to the day, but because God showed up that day and gave it value.
Think back and remember the day Jesus showed up in your life, saved you, redeemed you and gave you purpose. You may know the exact date and time that Jesus stepped into your day and changed all the days after.
We get so excited about a new year, but the definition of a year is just a period of 365 days.
What if you looked at every day with the faith, hope and expectation that Jesus was going to show up?
As you read the following story from Acts 9, you’ll come across a man who knows the transformation that can happen in a single day. His name is Saul and his conversion experience on the Road to Damascus is epic in every single way.
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found anyone there who followed Jesus’ teachings, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes, he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.
For three days he was blind and did not eat or drink anything. In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered. The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying” (Acts 9:1-11 NIV).
What should you do when you truly need transformation? Have you ever been so desperate for a new you that you’ll give up anything to be changed by His presence? Maybe the old resolutions just won’t do. Try these instead.
RESOLUTION #1: PRAY
For Saul, this was a new year! It was a life change that happened in a moment. Jesus didn’t wait until a new calendar year to address Saul. The call God had on his life was too important.
What was Saul’s response to this frightening, life-altering encounter? Prayer. Saul gave us a tip, a hint, a guide to what we are supposed to do when things aren’t going our way. We are supposed to pray.
S.D. Gordon states, “Prayer wonderfully clears the vision; steadies the nerves; defines duty; stiffens the purpose; sweetens and strengthens the spirit.”
Prayer has to be your compass through everything that happens in 2023.
Saul may have been physically blind, but in his moment of discomfort, he saw with great spiritual clarity for the first time.
RESOLUTION #2: PROCESS YOUR PAST.
You cannot stay in 2022. There are plenty of people who are more than willing to remind you of your mistakes. Once you step into God’s best, envious condemnation may not be far behind. Just because those around you are focused on the past doesn’t mean you need to stare into it with them.
When Jesus sent Ananias to Saul, Ananias’ focused, at first, on what Saul had done, not what Jesus was calling him to do.
In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:12-16 NIV).
Ananias made the mistake of condemning Saul’s past, but Jesus’ beautiful response said all that was needed.
- Saul is chosen.
- I’m going to use him.
- He has a purpose.
- It will be hard for him.
Listen, there is a 100% chance that you have made mistakes, some of them quite serious. And maybe you have a litany of decisions you wish you could take back. Sometimes you have to be reminded that you are chosen; God will use you and He has a purpose for you. It may not be easy, but He will never leave you or forsake you.
If you had a bad year in 2022, it’s time to leave it behind. Living in 2022 will do nothing for you. His mercies are new for you THIS DAY.
Lamentations 3:19-25 says, “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I will remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘the Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him’” (NIV).
RESOLUTION #3: EMPTY YOURSELF TO GET FILLED UP
Let’s return to Saul and Ananias’ story in Acts 9. “Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength” (Acts 9:17 NIV).
When you are burned out, everything feels hopeless. Perhaps you want to start the year with fasting. It’s a way to hear from the Lord, restore unity and receive clarity for what may come. One of the best ways to go into 2023, full of hope and vigor, is to begin by starving your flesh and feeding your spirit.
What you starve dies; what you feed thrives.
Saul did not eat or drink for three days – he fasted and waited for the Lord to show up. Once his prayers were answered, he ate and regained his strength.
Begin this year by pursuing Him. Try something different. Fast.
What is a fast?
- It is Not:
- A diet. This is a challenge, because inevitably during a fast you’ll realize you are getting healthier and losing weight. If you aren’t careful, the fast just becomes a diet, and you never truly experience the supernatural breakthrough.
- A hunger strike or a way to manipulate God into action. God gives good gifts because He wants to give good gifts, not because we deserve them.
- A show. This is not a demonstration of your immense spiritual depth. It’s the exact opposite. It’s a very visceral reliance on His grace and mercy to sustain us and to be everything we need.
- It Is:
- A ritual of abstaining from food and/or drink for a predetermined period, practiced in the Bible primarily as a means of mourning.
- Often coupled with prayer.
- An opportunity to humble yourself, mourn, repent and seek divine deliverance.
- A reliance on God more than food. Jesus modeled this when He went into the desert after being baptized.
- A disturbance.
Fasting creates a disturbance in the physical so God can do something in the supernatural.
Oswald Chambers once wrote, “Be persistent with your disturbance until you get face to face with the Lord Himself.”
We talk about the difference a day makes, but no single day was more impactful for all of humanity than the day Jesus offered himself up to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24 HCSB).
What if your resolution was no longer a new year resolution, but a new day resolution? God doesn’t need a year to bring about restoration — only a day. The year is for living out the transformation that He’s already given you. Go, and be new (2 Corinthians 5:17)!