A NEW Year, not ANOTHER Year

A NEW Year, not ANOTHER Year

Happy New Year! If you’re reading this looking for great strategies to break free of bad habits, thought patterns, toxic relationships, and the cycle of failed self-effort, you won’t find them here. I’ve discovered New Year’s resolutions are overrated and typically short-lived. But, I have good news. Lasting healing, freedom, and victory are not dependent on what you resolve to do. They are achieved based on what God promised to do for us. Romans 5:17 says believers have received the “abundance of grace,” or divine enablement to overcome cravings, transform mindsets, and energize behaviors. Paul says that we receive it so that we can reign (rule) in life through the One, Jesus Christ. While we rarely reign through our promises, we can expect victory based on God’s.

God’s promise to you “to reign in life through Christ Jesus” contains the overcoming power you need for life and victory. Your promises to not live in excess, avoid unhealthy relationships or develop new healthy habits begin with gusto and quickly become a chore. Our systems for success place time-consuming, heavy demands on us to perform better. On the other hand Grace, God’s divine enablement, wills and works in us until we are constrained and compelled by the inner power of the Holy Spirit.  

Our self-sufficient systems are similar to running a car on a battery. Our resources are quickly depleted and leave us short of the hoped-for outcome. Then, when we don’t measure up to our strategies for success, shame and defeat move in echoing another year of failure. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY! The fruit of living by the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. That produces an inward power to say no to all unwanted habits and behaviors and yes to all that God has for you. The promises of God are “Yes.” (2 Corinthians 1:20). You, nor your promises, are the problem. Self-reliant willpower is the problem.

I want you to have a NEW year, not another year. I do not want you to struggle to do better or cope better with life, people, and pressures. Coping is also overrated. It sounds like a solution, but just as new year’s resolutions, coping methods rarely produce the healing, freedom, or victory that Christ promised us. Many who learn “coping skills” are burned out from coping which is simply another method of self-reliance. Like the Pharisees who “weigh men down with burdens hard to bear,” coping heaps burdens on us that we weren’t meant to carry.  Nowhere in the Bible are we told to promise or cope better. God would never instruct us to do what would lead to frustration and defeat. Jesus earnestly said, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

”Apart from Me, you can do nothing.“

Jesus

The first recorded human promise to do well in the Bible was a gigantic flop. Moses gave God’s commands to the nation of Israel who exclaimed, “All the Lord has spoken we will do (Exodus 19:8).” Of course, their self-reliant intentions proved their inability to keep their promise. The Law placed demands on them which they COULD NOT and therefore DID NOT keep. Their broken promises led them to understand their need to be born again. God didn’t send the Law to free us from destructive and counterproductive behaviors. God added the Law to show us our inability to save ourselves or live as overcomers apart from His enablement. Christianity is access to God so that God, in concert with our yielded heart, can will and work out His good pleasure in us who believe. 

When our new year’s promises prove empty, God is not discouraged. God knew your promises would fail so He sent Jesus to remove the penalty for broken promises and shortcomings. The PENALTY of sin was removed through the blood of Christ and through your union with Him God made you die to the POWER of sin. In Adam, sin ruled in the spirit of man, entrapping us with its lusts and deceitful lie that we can be our source of victory. But now, in Christ, we are dead to the POWER of sin so that we can be free from the PRACTICE of sin—unwanted habits, mindsets, practices, behaviors, and cycles of self-defeating behavior. As a new creation in Christ Jesus, you are not obligated to strive for freedom from unwanted habits or establish new habits. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the grave indwells you and gives you a new living way—your new source of victory. If you desire a NEW year instead of another year, consider yourself dead to the power of sin (because you are) and count on God giving you the victory instead of striving through myriads of plans and strategies that never really work. 

Jesus tenderly and patiently taught us, “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the Vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” When you are born again, God grafts you into Christ, the Vine of divine fruitfulness. You then have access by faith to an entirely new way of living. To exercise your faith in this new and living way, here are three new practices and mindsets:

Branches on the ground are always dead and fruitless. Count your fleshly strategies as loss so that you may gain victory on the ground of Christ’s sufficiency willing and working self-control in you. This understanding makes it easier for us to expend our energy learning the new and living way.

In John 15:7, Jesus tells his disciples to ask the Father for whatever they wish, and it will be done. His point is you are not on your own, so why try to establish new eating, exercising, relational or mindsets apart from the Father’s love and abounding grace? He answers childlike prayer THROUGH CHRIST who indwells you. That is a mystery that brings victory! That is redemption! 

For a branch to be fruitful, it must have a singular source of life. It cannot draw life from itself (the branch) and the vine. Scripture says “If you keep my commands, you will abide in MY love.” The Father wills and works in us to despise sin because of its awful cost on our soul, relationships, and wellbeing. Romans 8:4 says that “the requirements of the law (or the good you want to do or the bad you want to stop) will be fulfilled IN us,” not BY us.

Prayer: Father God, thank you that I am not on my own. Thank you that your abounding grace is a gift, and your grace can do more than I can think or imagine. Thank you, that Christ died to sin once for all. Christ, since you died to the power of sin on my behalf, I need You to cause me to die to the temptation to ________ as well. Let your abounding grace animate and empower my soul to say no to all ungodliness. Holy Spirit, I take You as my very present Helper and Advocate. What is impossible for me is easily possible for You. I yield my mind and circumstances to you to will and work until I reign in life through Christ. Amen!  

If you would like someone to disciple you to walk from Christ’s life, please contact the Life Center. 

#SURRENDER #SELFSUFFICIENCY #NEWYEARSRESOLUTIONS

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