BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Happy New Year” is the normal greeting at this season of the year. I’m glad you made it to a new year. Happy New Year!
But in reality every year has the same number of weeks and months and the same number of days except a leap year. I believe what you need to make a difference in any New Year is a New You. A year won’t be necessarily different from previous years unless there is a New You. I want you to make a success of this New Year, and that will require a New You. It’s an illusion to think that everything will change for you just because you’re in a new year.
This New Year is another opportunity that God has given you. You can change your lifestyle; you can do things in ways different from the ways you did them in the past; you can avoid repeating the mistakes you made in the past; you can succeed where you failed in previous years. Your story at the end of this New Year will largely depend on you, and not the fact that it’s a new year. That you’re in a new year will not automatically bring you into new, positive experiences.
I want to share with you some of the things you must do to create a New You this New Year.
How to create a New You
1. Forget the past. It doesn’t matter what happened or didn’t happen last year, this is a New Year. God is giving you brand new 365 days – you can make your life or mar your life (God forbid!) notwithstanding the past. Learn from your past mistakes but don’t become immobilized by the memory of past mistakes. “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (lsa 43:19 NKJV).
Don’t allow the memory of your sins in the past to hunt you and make you a prisoner of conscience. Repent of your sins, receive forgiveness from God and move on with your life. “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov 28:13 NKJV). The Lord said, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jer 31:34 NKJV). Once you repent and confess your sins, don’t allow the devil to torment you again. God has no record of your past sins before Him. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Ps 103:12 NKJV) .That means your sins have been removed forever because the east and west can never meet!
Forget the past. This includes forgetting your past achievements and failures. If not well handled, past achievements can make you complacent, and past failures can make you frustrated. Allow neither of these. Apostle Paul said, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven” (Phil 3:13-14 NLT). This is a New Year; you need a New You. Give the year your best shot!
2. Walk with God. Do not think you can truly have a fulfilling New Year without God. There is a vacuum in every human being that only God can fill. All things were created through Him and for Him (Col 1:16). “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Rom 11:36 NKJV). Therefore, enter into a living relationship with Him and cultivate an intimate fellowship with Him. I’m not talking about mere religion or frequenting one place of worship. If you have no living relationship with God, you must start today by giving your life to Jesus and accepting him as your Lord and Saviour. That means you must be born again (John 3:3).
There are examples of people in the Bible who walked with God despite the evil and wickedness that pervaded their society. Enoch is one example. When he was 65 years old, he decided to walk with God. You also can decide to walk with God this year. Enoch walked with God notwithstanding what was going on in his society. He had an intimate relationship with God. Gen 5:22 says, “Enoch walked with God three hundred years…” (NKJV). According to Verse 24, Enoch walked so intimately with God that he didn’t die. “Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Gen 5:24 ASV). Noah also walked with God not allowing himself to be contaminated by the society he lived in. Gen 6:9 says, “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (NKJV).
Abraham also walked with God. Gen 17:1 says, “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless’” (NKJV). Abraham walked with God, and was called the friend of God (Isa 41:8; James 2:23).
There are several people in contemporary society that are also walking with God and fellowshipping with Him intimately. Make this your number one priority this New Year. No human accomplishment this year can surpass this. Your spiritual life is more important than any earthly acquisition or accomplishment. What will it profit you if you gain the whole world, and lose your soul? (Mark 8:36) Therefore, you need to walk with God; you need to “Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person” (Eccl 12:13 NLT). Serve the Lord with gladness this year (Ps 100:2). Don’t be a bench warmer in church. Don’t be a spectator; be a participator. Be a runner; don’t be an onlooker (1 Cor 9:26). Ultimately, everyone will give account of what he does on earth good or bad.
3. Develop your faith. You need to live by faith this year. The just shall live by faith (Rom 1:17, Gal 3:11, Heb 10:38). Hab 2:4 also says, “The just shall live by his faith.” (NKJV) So it’s necessary that you develop your faith. Whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom 14:23). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6).
How do you develop your faith? Rom 10:17 says faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. You must give priority to hearing, reading, confessing, meditating on and obeying the Word of God this year. Outside of the Word of God, there is no faith. Expose yourself to the Word of God this year; invest time and money in Bible-based materials. Feed your faith by continuous exposure to the Word of God; don’t feed your fear by listening to all manners of fearful stories, negative news flying around. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom 12:2). When you develop your faith, you’ll no longer walk by sight but by faith (2 Cor 5:7).
4. Stop bad habits. Your habits will eventually define you as your habits shape your character. Bad habits will result in bad character. The opposite is also true. Old habits die hard! But know that your habits will determine your future. Take stock of your life and be honest with yourself. What are the bad habits, behavior or practices responsible for or contributed to all the negatives that happened to you last year or in the previous years – in your marriage, family, business, finance, etc. If you continue with them, do you think this year will be different from past years? The answer is no.
Get rid of bad habits, behavior or practices such as wasteful spending, keeping bad company, wasting time, laziness, drunkenness, etc. These will only destroy you. 1 Cor 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’” (NKJV). Stop bad habits, behavior, practices, and cultivate good ones.
Do you remember the prodigal son? Luke 15:14 says a few days after collecting his share of his inheritance from his father packed all his belongings, took a trip to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money on wild living. Expectedly, he exhausted his money and following a great famine that swept over the land, he began to starve and his life degenerated to the point that he was forced to seek employed in a local farm where he suffered increasing hunger but wasn’t even allowed to eat the pods meant for pigs in the farm. His condition didn’t change until retraced his steps back home.
What did you do last year that caused problem in your home, business, finances, etc.? You must avoid them this year for a favourable outcome.
5. Focus on your opportunities; don’t concentrate on your opposition. The two always go together. You decide which one secures your attention – the opportunities or opposition (problems). Winners don’t get immobilized by the opposition or obstacles. Paul said a great and effective door of ministry opened to him in Ephesus but there were many adversaries (1 Cor 16:9). So the open door existed side by side the adversaries. Should he refrain from taking advantage of the open door just because of the enemies? No. He must go through the open door while also contending with the enemies. If he waited for the enemies to disappear before he would do anything, he would have to wait forever. There are no adversary-free perfect opportunities. “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (Eccl 11:4 NLT). If you concentrate on the enemies, you will become paralyzed with fear but focus on your opportunities and fight the enemies, the obstacle, the barriers on your way. This New Year, stop complaining or giving excuses; don’t focus on your problems; focus on your opportunities. Don’t be discouraged by the hurdles you need to cross; be motivated by the opportunities before you, and the reward awaiting you if you succeed.
6. Rejoice always. In order to make the most of this New Year, you must learn to rejoice always. Don’t let any situation steal your joy. Life is not a bed of roses, even roses have thorns. But don’t be discouraged by the thorns; be excited about the roses. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4 NKJV)
There will be both positive times and negative times. Things may sometimes not work out the way you planned but don’t be frustrated by that. God is able to still work all things together for your good according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). Don’t be on top of the world when things are going well, only to be so despondent because of unfavorable times that you lose the gains of the past. No matter what, rejoice knowing that the unfavourable time will soon end. “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh 8:10 NKJV).
No matter what happens this year REJOICE. Don’t be easily discouraged. Put in your mouth the hymn of faith like that of Prophet Habakkuk. “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls — Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills” (Hab 3:17-19 NKJV). According to Job, “If a tree is cut down, there is hope that it will sprout again and grow new branches. Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays, at the scent of water it may bud and sprout again like a new seedling” (Job 14:7-9 NLT).
7. Operate Bible-based financial principles. Most problems people face every year, and indeed in life, are money related. If you’re not financially free, you’re not free! To be free financially this year, you must learn and operate biblical financial principles.
Acknowledge that God owns you, your money and everything you have, and connect your finances with Heaven. Prov 3:9-10 says, “Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” (NKJV).
Pay your tithe correctly and give your offering scripturally (Mal 3:8-10). Since you’ve not been paying your tithe, have your finances been better? No. That should tell you that the tithe you pay is not responsible for your financial hardship or crisis. But do you know that some people have even gone pass ten percent in their financial walk with God? God blesses those who voluntarily, cheerfully, faithfully and generously honour Him with their finances.
Consciously and regularly sow seeds (Gen 8:22; 2 Cor 9:6; Eccl 11:1; Prov 11:24). If you do, your harvest will surely come. Redeem your vow (Eccl 5:4; Deut 12:17).
Avoid a lifestyle of debts especially debts for consumption rather than for investment. Plan your finances by prioritizing your needs and avoid impulsive and compulsive purchases, frivolous expenditures.
8. Be Generous to others. Don’t be selfish this year. Don’t live a self-centred life. Be a blessing to others. Be a giver. Heb 13:16 says, “Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to God” (NLT). Help others, not only with your money but with your time, materials and other resources. It is in your own interest to do so because by this, you are preparing provision ahead for yourself. Whatever you sow, that is what you shall reap (Gal 6:7). And whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully (2 Cor 9:6). “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself” (Prov 11:24-25 NKJV).
Many people go through life expecting other people to give them gifts or help them in one way or the other but they don’t do same for others. There is nobody who cannot bless another person in one way or the other. Don’t just expect people to bless you or give to you, go and do same for others according to your ability. Don’t be a beggar; be a giver! Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NKJV). Pay attention to this truth.
9. Walk in love. As you go into the year, learn to walk in love with others. Choose not to be offended. “It’s harder to make amends with an offended friend than to capture a fortified city” (Prov 18:19 NLT). Not everybody will do what pleases you, and even those who are friendly with you will sometimes offend you. To love all is a decision you must make this year. The identity card for every Christian is love. Love is the fulfillment of the law. “Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments against adultery and murder and stealing and coveting — and any other commandment – are all summed up in this one commandment: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to anyone, so love satisfies all of God’s requirements” (Rom 13:8-10 NLT). Gal 5:14 says, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (NKJV).
With agape love – “a love of the will rather than the emotions” – you can never go wrong. Jesus says you should love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you! (Matt 5:44)
Conclusion: You need a new you to make the most of the New Year. As you act on the word you’ve just read, I pray that this New Year will be your best year ever. May you live a Christ honouring life, and may the New Year take you closer to the realization of God’s purpose for your life.
If you’re not born again, I invite you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible -teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: “0 Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I’m a sinner and I can’t save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent and confess my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you Jesus for saving me and making me a child of God.”
I believe you’ve said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You’ll need to join a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church in your area where you’ll be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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