Last week, I retold an ‘untold’ Christmas story—kind of a behind-the-scenes look at God’s peace and redemption Jesus set into motion with His arrival on earth. Because the new year began a week after Christmas, I thought we should now look at new beginnings. Here are a few examples of New Year celebrations and why we use them to make resolutions.
American/European: January 1st. We tend to gather the evening before and bring in the new year with shouts, parties, countdowns, and resolutions. And some of those parties bring regrets and spawn resolutions of their own.
Chinese (Also known as the Spring Festival): 23rd day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. The idea is like that of the American and European New Year celebrations.
Jewish, Religious – Pesach (Passover): The 1st Jewish month, when the time of the covenant between God and His ‘bride’ Israel began. It was a new beginning for her.
Jewish, Agricultural – Rosh Hashanah: The 7th month of the Jewish calendar. Interestingly, while this is the official State New Year, it also closely relates to God’s covenant. This New Year begins with the Feast of Trumpets and introduces a time of repentance, forgiveness, and rest.
Because we know of the good and bad things we’ve done or that the current year has brought, the thought of a ‘better’ new year can bring anticipation of good things to come! We want to change what we don’t like; this is where ‘repentance’ (even for the non-religious) comes into play. We’re sorry for the behaviors we don’t like and, therefore, vow to change. It’s harder than it seems! Here are three guidelines for helping you achieve your dreams and goals.
First, you must set goals for yourself. Follow the SMART principle:
Specific. Be clear about what you would like to accomplish!
Measurable. How will you know whether you’re succeeding?
Attainable. You probably won’t be a millionaire by the age of 50 – especially if you’re, well, 60.
Relevant. Why try to be a better poker player if your goal is to overcome gambling addiction?
Timely. When should you achieve your goals?
Second, if you intend to have a new beginning in Christ or embrace a lifestyle change, you must PLAN to achieve your goals! To quote some silly movie line: “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail!”
Third, we can rarely accomplish large tasks independently, especially when dealing with weaknesses or temptations. The Spirit of God can provide strength and guidance, and accountability partners give us direction, wisdom, strength, and discipline to be successful.
Join me next week to explore whether God should be known as the “I Am” or “I Will Be.”
Blessings and peace,
Dr. Ron Braley