New Year: New Beginning
Home Church Service 1/01/2022
Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.
When our small group meets for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. These messages are designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points being discussed. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven— He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.
Ecclesiastes 3:1&11 (NASB95)
So, here we are, another year has flown past our eyes, and we stand at the beginning of a New Year. I cannot remember a time when New Year’s was so looked forward to as the past two years, 2020 and 2021. These past two years have stretched us to the limit and so we look forward to a New Year: New Beginning, hopeful that this year will be better.
Looking forward is a good thing but there is a small catch to looking forward. We need to look back first. Why? Because if we do not look back, at both the good and the bad, we cannot successfully navigate the New Year, nor can we grow from our past mistakes. A New Year: New Beginning must first begin with a look back before we can move forward.
1). The first thing we must do with a New Year: New Beginning is look back at our mistakes, failures and hurts.
Looking back is NEVER easy but it is the only way we can learn and grow from OUR mistakes.
No one likes to admit they make mistakes, have failed themselves and others or have been hurt or hurt other people, but sadly, it is a fact of life and the only way we can learn, and grow, is by looking back. Before looking back, you must understand this very important point, looking back is NOT to be an exercise in self-condemnation, nor is it to be simply a self-improvement exercise. The point here is growth – more specifically, growth in Christ.
So, we must first start by making a list of those mistakes, sins, or hurts that have been done to others or have been done to us. This could be anything from a sin that has gone unconfessed to a mistake you glossed over in front of others or something you blamed another for to keep from the consequences or something someone has done to you. Prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. Be open and transparent. If you allow the Spirit to guide you making this list will be easy, but you just might find that you will see God in the midst of your list. What do I mean? You just might find that God was already working in the issue before you made the mistake, committed the sin or hurt the other person or were hurt by another.
Once your list is made, take the appropriate action. If you need to apologize to someone, apologize and ask forgiveness. If you need to forgive someone, forgive them, BEFORE they apologize to you. If there is something that can be made right, make it right. You MUST understand this, you cannot and will not have peace in the New Year until you have peace with others, with yourself and peace with God. It makes no difference how big or how small you might think the act is or was…clean it up, get it out of your life because these “little things” can keep you separated from God.
Once again, this is NOT to be an act of self-condemnation. You will know if condemnation is coming from the Holy Spirit or of it is from self or the enemy. The Spirit will certainly bring condemnation, but the condemnation of the Spirit will come in love. It will come in the still small voice that is moving you to a better way, not the voice that brings justification or excuses for the acts you have committed. Listen for God to speak in the midst of your struggle with your list. He will lovingly, yet sternly move you to the right path, His correction is just that – CORRECTION! Meant to get you on the right path and to remain in His light.
Questions for reflection:
What was the most difficult thing about forming your list?
Did you allow the Holy Spirit to guide you into the harder confessions and admissions?
How are you sensing peace after forming your list?
2). The second thing we must do with a New Year: New Beginning is look to the Lord God for He has made all things appropriate in their time.
Everything happens in its time and for a reason.
Once you have completed your list and taken the appropriate actions, it is now time to look to God. The New Year: New Beginning means we have a blank slate, but it also means things will still be done at the right time. God has set all things to happen in the time they are meant to happen. There is no such thing as karma, luck, coincidence, happenstance, chance or even a lucky rabbit’s foot! God has ordained things to happen at the appropriate time. We must, therefore, seek Him in all things we do in the New Year.
God sits in sovereign control over all He has created. He leaves nothing to chance and there is nothing that takes Him by surprise. He is intimately involved in your life and seeks to bring you only the best, in turn brining glory to His name. This does not mean we will not suffer the consequences of bad choices or mistakes we make or the sins we commit. We must still answer for those, and the outcome or consequence may be a surprise to us, but it will not surprise God. We must, therefore, remain close to the One who has created us and has given us life.
Just as there is an appropriate time for spring, summer, fall and winter, so there is an appropriate time for all things in our lives. God has order things in such a way that we, as mere human beings, cannot see what He is doing or what He will do. Certainly, there will be signs along the way, but we can never truly know what God is doing until He makes it known in its time. Our finite minds just could not handle seeing those things. Instead, God has granted us full access to His throne room, through our faith in Christ, whenever we need to come to Him. It matters not how small or large the problem or issue is, our heavenly Father wants us to need Him and come to Him.
So, what do we do? Make another list!! This time list those things that are heaviest on your heart. Maybe it is a new job or a promotion at your current job. Maybe it is a new car. Maybe it is a new home. Maybe you have a ministry that needs to go to the next level or take the next steps. Again, be open and transparent and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. Don’t be surprised if you find God already there in this list as well. Pray, pray, and pray some more. You may not receive an answer to your entire list, or even a part of it, right away. The key is to be persistent in prayer.
Once you have your list and you begin to pray, be attentive to what is happening around you. Look for signs that God has begun to work in your prayer requests. Do not be dismayed if you are not seeing anything, again persistence in prayer is the key, but we also need to listen and be watchful. You must learn to be aware of His presence in your everyday life and to rejoice when His presence is near. Learn to look past the everyday routines of your life and recognize the miracles of life in the presence of God.
Questions for reflection:
What do you sense God calling to you do this year?
Where do you need God’s guidance this year?
How have you sensed the presence of God during the past year?
None of us likes to look back, especially when it involves making a list of what we have done wrong. But this is the only way we can learn and grow. It is my prayer that God will grant you the courage to take this step, making a list of the mistakes, sins, wrongs done to you or to others, every year, not just this year. I pray that your growth in Christ will be noticeable to you and those who are closest to you. May you learn the peace of Christ as you remove the barriers between you and God the Father, for we cannot have peace with the Father until we have peace with ourselves and with others. May the New Year: New Beginning be filled with peace, joy, love and happiness as you seek to serve the One who has called you into fellowship with His Son and given you a life that shines in the darkness.
Remembering is an important part of our faith. The Hebrews were constantly reminded to remember what the Lord God had done in bringing them out of Egypt. We too must remember what God has done to bring us from our own Egypt, sin and how He continues to guide us even now. So, the making of this list of mistakes is to help us grow in Christ, to reach maturity and Christlikeness. We are not to dwell or live in the past, but we must allow God to work in healing our past. Trust me, this comes from personal experience, and it is one of the most freeing moments I have ever experienced in my life with Christ. We have been given a gift – the start of a new year – a blank slate to fill with those things God has prepared for us and ample opportunity to bring glory and honor to His name.
Make the most of the New Year. Enjoy life in and with Christ. Impact those around you by being so radically different, they simply must ask why!! This is a New Year: New Beginning, redeem the time wisely for we are fast approaching the return of our Lord and Savior, Yeshua, Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and honor forever and ever!
May God bless you and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May God lift His countenance upon you and give you peace.