WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL
JANUARY 2, 2021
TOPIC: MAKE THE NEW YEAR A NEW YEAR (1)
BY T. O. BANSO
“Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days” (Ephesians 5:16 New Living Translation).
Everyone looks forward to a new year. Many looked forward to this New Year but they couldn’t make it. I read the sad story of a middle-aged woman who went to church for the crossover service into 2021 but was killed in a vehicle accident at about 9 pm.
The news says she had gone out from the church auditorium for something when she was killed by a hit-and-run driver at the main road. She died at the verge of entering the New Year. Sadly, she couldn’t make it into 2021! May the Lord comfort her family and friends and those of victims of similar tragedies.
Congratulations, you made it! Happy New Year! Thank God for His mercies that He extended to you. What makes this New Year a new year? Is it the number of days, the hours, the week and the months of the year? In all these aspects, this year is not different from all other years. They are all essentially the same.
How then is the New Year a new year? Could it just be another opportunity to go through January to December again? If you are 30 years old, you have gone through this cycle 30 times in 30 years. If you are 50 Years old, you have gone through the cycle 50 times in 50 years.
The point is that for many people, the New Year is or will be a continuation of the old year. Nothing is new or will be new, apart from the change of calendar from one year to another. However, what really makes the New Year a new year is not the change of calendar in your home or office!
How can you make the New Year a new year? How can you ensure that the euphoria of the New Year does not, in the next few hours, evaporate and the year continues as the previous year? I want to share with you 10 ways to make the New Year a new year.
This message is predicated on the need for a sober reflection on your life and taking some life-changing decisions that are beyond the realms of the annual rituals of New Year resolutions.
10 ways to make the New Year a new year
1. Get closer to God: For many people, they must give their lives to Jesus today, while several others will need to rededicate their lives to God. Maybe you have never considered it necessary to be born again or you have wandered from the One you committed your life to once upon a time.
Let this year be a new year for you by returning to your Saviour. Those who have a relationship with Jesus before this year and those who must establish a relationship should now develop and sustain a closer and unbroken fellowship with God this year.
As you read this, You may need to invite Jesus into your heart right away, confessing Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. You may need to go to a living church now to make yourself available to be taught how to maintain a closer walk with God this New Year. God did not create a New Year to be lived by man without Him. Get closer to God in prayer, Bible study and fellowship with saints. Make Jesus the Lord of your life.
2. Learn from the past: You must learn from the previous year, but put it behind you. Yes, you made some mistakes. You didn’t realize some of your goals. Some people disappointed you. All these negative things happened in the year just ended. You cannot deny the fact that they occurred. What has happened has happened. Don’t continue to cry over spilt milk.
You cannot continue to mourn over your Saul. You must arise with your horn of oil to go to anoint David (1 Samuel 16:1). It is painful that your Sarah has died. Nevertheless, you must bury your dead out of your sight. You may have to take a new wife (husband); you may have to marry your Keturah (Genesis 25:1).
No matter what happened last year, the New Year provides you with new opportunities for better experiences under God. This year is your best year ever to experience what God can do for someone who will forget the past, which includes past achievements, past failures, past mistakes, past disappointments etc., and receive what eyes have not heard and what has not entered into the heart of any man which God has prepared for them that love Him (1Corinthians 2:9).
Put behind you your negative and positive experiences last year; learn the lessons God wants you to learn from them. Behold, God wants to do a new thing in your life! Can’t you see it? Forget the past.
3. Stop bad habits, cultivate good habits: Habits are powerful. They determine the results you get in life, whether positive or negative. Look at your life and honestly identify your negative habits last year. Identify what you hate about yourself and what people have complained about you, even though you hate to agree with them but within you, you know it is bad.
The Word of God and the Holy Spirit may even have warned you in the year ended. Stop playing games with your life. To get a different result this year, you must quit those negative habits and cultivate good habits. Some of the negative habits you can stop by sheer discipline. Some that have become a spirit, you will need to ask for the help of God – God’s power to deliver you from them.
Open yourself to the power of God to free you from them, and begin to do the right things. Cultivate positive habits like forgiveness, appreciation, thinking through before acting and reading edifying books, especially the Bible. “Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days” (Ephesians 5:16 New Living Translation).
Luke 4:16 says, “And as His [Jesus’] custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read” (New King James Version). That was a good custom or habit. Jesus had the habit of going to the synagogue on the Sabbath.
Also, Luke 22:39 says He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed. In Acts 17:2, the Bible also says Paul went to the synagogue service as his custom was. Where do you have the habit of going? Jesus read the scriptures. What book do you have the habit of reading?
4. Get out of all bad relationships: 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’” (New King James Version). Association is vital to greatness in life. Nobody comes into your life and leaves you the same. What role did the people you had business, spiritual, social, and leader-follower relationships with played in your life last year?
If your life will be better this year, you must get rid of relationships that did not add anything significant to you. Come out from under wrong leadership: spiritual, business or social. Cut off from them. Zero-people will only reduce you to nothing. If you walk with the wise, you will become wise; the companion of fools shall be destroyed (Proverbs 13: 20).
Prayerfully enter into right relationships. “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs 12:26 New King James Version). Let God lead you to people who have what you lack, those who are strong where you are weak, those who have overcome what you are battling with, and those who will add value to you. You need such a friendship, business relationship, spiritual relationship, etc. Be sensitive to them as God brings them to you.
They may not look like you and that’s why you need them! You may not like them and that’s not important! It is what God wants them to add to you and vice versa or what He wants to achieve through the relationships that is important. With the right relationships in your life this year, it will be a new year for you.
5. Start or resume the project or dream God has given you: Don’t waste the seconds and minutes in the New Year, as you probably did in past years. Time waits for no man. Before you know it, all the days in the New Year are gone. What are you going to pour your life into this year? When are you going to start that project or dream you’ve had for years? When are you going to resume the projects you started but abandoned?
The dogged pursuit of your goals may make this year a different year for you. Start with a step and move ahead consistently, step by step, and your progress will appear to all. If you do nothing about the new project you have, it will remain at the planning stage.
Start with the little you have. Start from where you are. Don’t expect a perfect condition. If you do, you may have to wait till eternity. “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (Ecclesiastes 11: 4 New Living Translation).
I will share the remaining points with you tomorrow. Please, act on what you have read.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot 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 attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot 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 of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you 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. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: I shall be a better person this year in Jesus’ name. Holy Spirit, help me to make the most of every opportunity for doing good this New Year. Help me to see and utilize the new opportunities that God brings my way this year. I receive power to become all God wants me to become this year and do all He wants me to do.
(For over 400 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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