A Fresh Start
A Fresh Start
The beginning of a New Year. To me, it has always meant a clean slate. Another opportunity to start fresh. The past year is history and we are embarking on a New Year. We are the same people, living in the same place, maybe even working the same job. But, with the New Year comes new hope, new promises, and new potentials.
In some ways a New Year reminds me of a person becoming a child of God. While we are the same person physically, something about us has changed spiritually. When a person becomes a Christian, they have new hope, new promises and new potential.
New Hope. Before a person becomes a Christian they have no hope of eternal life with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, that the Christian should not mourn the passing of a child of God in the same way that they would mourn one who is NOT a Christian. “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.” One who is not a child of God, has absolutely no hope of eternal life. Only the faithful child of God has the hope that they will live on in eternity in heaven. There is not enough room in this paragraph to list all the passages that talk about the hope that the faithful child of God has. I will mention three passages and the rest you can look up in a good concordance under the word “hope.” In Titus 1:2, Paul reminds Titus of the “hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” Again in Titus, this time in chapter 2:13, Paul discusses the idea of “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” In Hebrews 6:19, the writer tells us that our hope that we have is “as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the presence behind the veil.” When a person obeys God’s commandments and becomes a child of His, then they have the hope of eternal life abiding in them as long as they continue in the faith.
New Promises. God has made promises since shortly after the sin of Adam and Eve. And He has kept His promises. When a person is a child of God, they have promises that the non-Christian does not and cannot have. For example, the child of God has the promise of the forgiveness of sins upon their initial obedience of the gospel (Acts 2:38; Hebrews 8:12; 10:17), and as a child of God (1 John 1:9). We also have the promise that God will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6). We also have the promise from God the Father and Jesus Christ of a place, a home, in heaven when this life is over if we have been diligent and faithful in keeping God’s commands (John 14:1-4). Remember, these promises are not made to the non-Christian. They are only made to those who love the Lord and DO what He says. It is a wonderful thing to know that we serve a God who not only makes promises to His children, but One who keeps His promises. Peter reminds us that “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness…(2 Peter 3:9). When God makes a promise, you can rest assured that He will do what He says. But, the only way that you and I can enjoy or look forward to the promises of God, is to be obedient to Him.
New Potential. It is possible for one who has done sinful thing to be forgiven by God. The apostle Paul reminds Timothy that he (Paul) had been forgiven by God even though he had done some very hurtful things to God’s children and to the cause of Christ. He even describes himself to Timothy as the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). He tells Timothy that he had “obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life “(1 Timothy 1:16). After a person becomes a Christian the potential for them is seemingly endless. The potential of becoming a strong Christian awaits all those who are obedient to the gospel. The potential of becoming an effective worker in the kingdom of God is something that every child of God can accomplish if the have the desire and determination. The potential of bringing others to Christ so that they might render obedience to the gospel is very real. And I suppose that we could go on. But, in order for us to reach our potential, yes even our full potential, we must be willing to be busy in the kingdom of God. It seems some Christians have the idea, and many times the attitude, that they have obeyed the gospel now and have that they have done all that they intend to do. While becoming a child of God is key, it is NOT the final step. Every child of God has the same expectation from God, to be the best, most effective worker in God’s kingdom that they can be. But many Christians never reach their full potential. The reason is because they do not feel like they have anything they really need to do other than come to church, take the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week, and put some money in the collection plate. A lot of churches of Christ are shrinking because the members of those local churches have the attitude that the job of converting others or teaching the gospel is the job of the preacher. While the preacher has the responsibility of teaching the gospel and trying to convert others, so does every Christian and member of a local church. What about you? Have you reached your potential? Have you even tapped into the potential that you might have? We are just a few days into the New Year, what better time to start then right now?
Yes, it is not just the start of a New Year that brings a fresh start, but when one becomes a Christian they have a fresh start regardless of what time of the year that they may have become a child of God. Make the most of your faith this coming year whether you are a new convert, or a seasoned Christian, if the Lord wills that we live through another year, and in whatever time that He might allow us to have!