Thursday, December 29, 2005

Fresh Start in a New Year

What changes on the first day of the New Year besides the date ? Does God have a direction for me in in the new year? This is a good time to recap a New Year message I did two years ago. There are two pointers for a Fresh Start in a New Year.The first is:

1. Change Your Focus - Stop Looking Behind

If we want a fresh start, we can't dwell in the past. If we spend all our time looking over our shoulder at the past, we’ll miss what God is doing today. Stop looking behind means:

a) Avoid allowing past failures to paralyse you. We have painful experiences we need to put behind us. Sometimes you give your best shot and you still come up short. Study for a test and still fail. Work hard and still get retrenched. You may have had a financial failure, relational failure or a moral failure. We sinned. God tells us to be free of sin. Until we are free, we are stuck in the past.

This is the key. When we become God’s, the old life is over. God makes things new. Jesus said in Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Christ came to set you free – if you let Him. He's already done everything He needs to do. We can only benefit from what Christ did when we personally trust Christ. New life can't be inherited, it must be experienced. To stop looking behind also means:

b) Avoid depending on past victories to sustain you. Going forward we also need to deal the good and fun bits of our past. That was then but this is now. God's about to do something better.

You need a new miracle, a new victory for a new day.

The second pointer for the New Year is:

2. Clarify Your Purpose - Start Looking Ahead

A new start is possible because God has a future in store for us. God's done many good things but He didn't stop there. Be clear on God’s purpose. God created us to love us and for us to know God. But we went our own way - so God’s purpose is to reconcile humanity to Himself. God's working this out in new ways. Know God’s purpose and flow with God. Start looking ahead means:

a) Look forward to the new things God has for you. God's doing something new in our midst if only we will open our eyes and ears, see and hear what He is doing. God has done a new thing even this morning. He has given you new breath. He has given us new mercies and compassions today. Looking ahead also means:

b) See possibilities as God sees them. This New Year can be a watershed year in your life. God will make a way when we think it is impossible. Let Him do a new thing in your heart, home, marriage, job, school or community. God’s new journey for us will write a new story for our journey of faith.

Perhaps you made unwise choices over this past year. You can stop making wrong choices and start making right choices. You can say no to habits that have trapped you.

I encourage you to seek a new vision and interest in the things of God. Allow God to bring direction and correction into your life. God's in the business of renewing, reviving and restoring people. God has great plans for you. Look forward to your fresh start in the new year. Rejoice - God's with you and He's put you in His church.


draco_malfoy!!!! said...

Hi Pastor Ben,

Indeed, I agree that we should put the past behind each of us and trudge on. However, we often encounter circumstances where events in the past return to haunt us. For e.g., people and situations remind us of the wrongs that we have done years ago, the previous glories that we have failed to reproduce and how things would have been better if we had/had not made a particular decision at a point in life. Many of these reminders are not within our control and certainly not what we would like to be re-associated with. These usually rekindle some form of negative perspectives towards our own lives, even if we really intend to start afresh in certain aspects. And it is really unfortunate because some memories are there to stay.

ben kc lee said...

Dear draco/bn, know what you mean. We've all been there. Regrets and negative memories are formidable obstacles.

That's why I've found it absolutely essential to review the past. Before going on a new trip, it’s wise to learn lessons from our previous trip. Otherwise we’ll repeat the same tumbles and fumbles in the new trip.

To review is to ask questions about 2005. What did I learn? What worked well? What would I repeat? How did I grow in 2005? How about relationships, career, lifestyle? How about income, health and ministry? Ask good questions, and write reflections in a journal.

Philippians 3:13 tell us not to let disappointment stop us from growing. We all make mistakes. We must learn from them, not dwell on them. We need to learn not to rehearse past mistakes in my mind.

Knowing that is one thing; having the power to do it is another. Everything about our natural emotions will want to dwell on the past and nurse old wounds.

Let me give two reasons why you can be optimistic. The big plus point, you know Christ. As you continue to surrender your life to Him, He'll give you strength to move into the future. Second, you're not in this alone. I Thess 5:11 (NCV): ‘So encourage each other & give each other strength..’ That's why God gave us the local church. Happy New Year.

Olivia Loh said...

Hi Pastor Ben,

This is Olivia from Hope Melbourne. Want to thank you for a very refreshing blog and always sharing from the heart of things. Indeed we all need a fresh start to the New Year...

Hopefully, one day, I might be able to train under your leadership before venturing out to church planting.

Thank you for the blessing that you are to Hope movement and to many people whose lives you and Ps Dinah have touched...HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! God Bless! :)

ben kc lee said...

welcome olivia. glad you like the blog. and sure you're welcome to train with us.
dinah and i can serve beyond singapore because we're surrounded by a such great staff team.
do send our regards to all there in Melbourne