A New Year – A New Start

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You have 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 525,600 minutes.

What will you do with this New Year?

A New Year brings for many the dreaded resolutions. The thoughts of being able to begin again, make a fresh start, do a ‘Do Over’, take a mulligan, all bring forth the hope of change for us.

Nearly all of us make resolutions. Over 88 percent of Americans will make at least one “resolution” at the start of the year. Of these resolutions, the most common are: (1) lose weight, (2) save or earn more money, (3) quit smoking, (4) spend more time with family, (5) maintain a budget, (6) find a better job, (7) eat better, (8) become more organized, (9) exercise more, and (10) become a better person. While these are all goals that one should strive for—with 88 percent of Americans setting out to accomplish them each year—less than 20 percent are successful in attaining success in even one of their resolutions.

I believe in the history of time God took a deep breath and resolved to make a change:

The LORD said: The time will surely come when I will make a new agreement with the people of Israel and Judah. It will be different from the agreement I made with their ancestors when I led them out of Egypt. Although I was their God, they broke that agreement. Here is the new agreement that I, the LORD, will make with the people of Israel: “I will write my laws on their hearts and minds. I will be their God, and they will be my people.  “No longer will they have to teach one another to obey me.  I, the LORD, promise that all of them will obey me, ordinary people and rulers alike.   I will forgive their sins and forget the evil things they have done.”  Jeremiah 31:31-34 CEV

Jeremiah 31:31-34 is one of the most quoted passages of the Old Testament in the New Testament.  This “new covenant” passage from Jeremiah is the basis for the division of the Old and New Testaments.  In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus references this passage when He says, “This is the cup of the new covenant.”  Jesus is the new covenant heralded by Jeremiah and the prophets.

Why a new covenant?

In a nutshell: the old covenant was broken and beyond repair.  The first covenant was a moral law represented and given in the Ten Commandments.  This covenant was broken. This covenant was dependent on the people performing as God dictated.

Jeremiah tells us in Jeremiah 17 that although the law had been given and the consequences for breaking the law known, the people continued to break the law.  The people could not overcome their deceitful hearts. In other words, the people were incapable of keeping the law on their own. God needed a new covenant to redeem the people.

This fresh start, this new covenant, was not to be based on external laws, but inward belief. This covenant would not be about the corporate “heart” of the people, but rather it would be based on the “heart” of the individual.

This new covenant would be a promise that we could know God as the prophets knew God – Directly and Intimately. The new covenant was a promise of hope and forgiveness. Restoration under the old covenant had resulted in more laws, more restrictions and ultimately more failure. The harder you tried to get close to God the further you seemingly got.

Through the prophets, God sought and announced this fresh start, this new resolution, this new covenant with His people. As a matter of fact, this new covenant would be for all people – Jews and Gentiles alike.

This New Covenant had 3 major themes:

1)You must think BIG. God is bigger than how we define Him.

What Moses began with the Law, was not being completed in a new way. The deliverance from Egypt, long ago completed, was now requiring a new kind of deliverance from the bondage of sin.  All of these concepts were far beyond the current knowledge of God. They would require new and bigger thoughts.

2)We will not become new people by following some prescribed formula. Only the Eternal can create what is truly new. We are bound by our past. This new covenant was truly new; therefore, we would only be bound by our inability to let go of the past.

3)The law demands what it cannot give, but Grace gives what it demands.

The heart of this covenant is God’s grace and God’s forgiveness.

Do you desire to change?
Do you want a fresh start?
Do you want to be someone new this year?

This new covenant is for you. This new covenant is written on our hearts and delivered to us from God through Christ. I pray that what your heart believes will change how you act.

My resolution this year is to act in accordance with my heart.

That is God’s resolution for us as well.

What resolutions have you made?

Author:

I am a United Methodist Pastor and have the privilege of serving as the Senior Pastor for the church of my childhood. I preach in a place I once was an acolyte. I love to preach, but more importantly I love to teach. I firmly believe that Faith Matters and should affect how we live. This blog is a place where I come to share the randomness that is life and faith ... and the intersection of the two.

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