In less than a week we will enter 2020. I still remember being excited about the year 1999 because 2000 was coming. Many people anticipated a complete fall of computer systems, communication systems, and even the extreme fall of government systems thought the world. Every year we have 365 days to decide how we will spend them. We make choices which create habits, and those habits that create outcomes. Now each of us knows that nothing magically good or bad happens when we flip the calendar to a new year, but we can look at the next 365 days as opposition or opportunity.
I have found that most the time at the beginning of a new year, we often think of change in purely physical terms (working out, reading more, eating better, etc.). The greatest change we can ever experience, however, is being made new and growing in Christ. A 2014 study from Ligonier Ministries found:
“Just under half of Americans (45 percent) say there are many ways to heaven—which conflicts with traditional views about salvation being linked to faith in Jesus.
Catholics (67 percent) and Mainline Protestants (55 percent) are most likely to say heaven’s gates are wide open with many ways in. Evangelicals (19 percent) and Black Protestants (33 percent) are more skeptical.
About half of Americans (53 percent) say salvation is in Christ alone. Four in 10 (41 percent) say people who have never heard of Jesus can still get into heaven. And 3 in
10 (30 percent) say people will have a chance to follow God after they die.”
As we look in the word of God we come to understand the fact of “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” – No good deed, no work of our flesh, will bring us restoration with God. It’s a free gift in Christ. It is the gift that keeps on giving not just once, but all throughout our Christian lives. “John 3:16” can be found everywhere. On signs at football games, scratched into bathroom stalls, and plastered on shirts and highway billboards. How many people, however, know what it truly means?
When we receive the gift of salvation we are born again. So we must understand that we are not born again until we are born of Spirit. It is when we accept the gift of salvation that we are born of spirit and not just in the flesh. The Spirit is the presence of God in the man, through which fellowship with God is made possible and power given for winning the warfare against sin against the flesh. The Spirit of God is not natural to any of us in our fallen state. However when we accept Christ and are born again the Spirit comes to dwell in us as believers. We also need to know that the Spirit simply makes victory possible and only to the degree that the believer ‘lives by the Spirit’ or ‘walks’ in the Spirit. I don’t know about you, but as a Christ follower I want to walk in the Spirit of God daily. When that happens I operate out of His strength, and not the mere efforts of my own strength. It is when that happens that I have victory through His power and not my failed fleshly efforts.
Years ago there was an old Cherokee that was teaching his grandson about life. ‘A fight is going on inside me,’ he said to the boy. ‘It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.’ He continued, ‘The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?’ The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed the most. As we approach 2020 I encourage you to feed the Spirit. When we feed our faith our doubts will starve. However, when we feed our flesh it will thrive with anger, envy, regret, greed and so on.
Why do most New Year resolutions fail? Usually, we slip up once and then use that mistake as an excuse to slip up again and again. In our journey to become more like Christ, we can fall down. When that happens, it’s important to repent— not give up. Accountability is a key to overcoming temptation. When we hold ourselves accountable to other people, we are in a better position to follow Christ in righteousness. Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” David’s story teaches us that even the mightiest of Christians can fall, but by His Spirit I will rise, and so can you! This year i encourage you to make the greatest decision you can ever make and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Get connected with other believers, and walk in the Spirit daily. Be sure to build spiritual relationships for spiritual accountability. I am personally excited for a new year, and I hope and pray you are too! This Sunday at South Side we will unpack the opportunities that await us in 2020. Come early, and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee at Café Connect. We have an amazing Childrens Ministry, and worship begins at 10:45! I hope and pray you have a happy New Year!
South Side Church of Christ