My Grace-Full Life

New Year, New Changes

We are days away from ushering in 2017 and already, I see Facebook covered in posts about making changes in the new year.  Roughly half our country will make a New Year’s Resolution.  While about half of those resolutions will center around weight loss and fitness, many people seek to make personal changes and embrace self-improvement.
I recently had a conversation with a friend, who, during the Christmas holiday, had an Ah-Ha moment regarding her future and her relationships with family members.  She’s determined to make some changes in order to be a happier person.  I think it’s a great idea, and as we talked about it, I encouraged her to make daily Bible reading a part of her plan.  By getting to know God better and with His help, He will help her make those changes she wants to see.  And during our conversation, I had my own Ah-Ha moment…
In the last six months, I’ve majorly overhauled my life.  I’ve recommitted to Christ (you can read my personal testimony here).  I’ve read my Bible every single morning since July.  I pray every day, many times a day, and as a girl who used to cuss like a sailor, I’ve cleaned up my language and given it a complete overhaul, based on convictions from my Bible reading (Ephesians 4:29).  I’m learning to trust and lean on God and as a result, my worrying and anxiety have decreased.  I have gotten to know God in a very real way.  I’ve strengthened my faith.
I say “I,” but the truth is, I haven’t done a single bit of it.
All the credit and glory go straight to God.
Because any changes we want to make — any permanent, lasting, meaningful, and purposeful changes happen through God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  ~Philippians 4:13

As you think about the new year and the new you you want to become, consider making God your first priority and watch how things will fall into place.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  ~2 Corinthians 5:17

Christ has the power to transform you.  To make you new.  To renew your heart and mind, and to make positive changes in your life.
Sure, you can resolve to be a nicer person.  You can resolve to be more thankful.  You can resolve to give to the poor.  Those are very nice, noble things.  But they aren’t going to do a thing for your eternal soul.

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  ~Titus 3:4-7

Not by works of righteousness.  Our good deeds aren’t enough.
Jesus Christ died for our sins.  Belief in Him as God’s son, acceptance of His sacrifice and free gift, and repentance from our sins is what will get us into heaven.  There isn’t a thing on earth we can do to earn it.
And the cool thing — because we are washed, regenerated, and renewed by the Holy Spirit when we accept the free gift of salvation from Jesus, all those New Year’s Resolutions to be kinder, to be more thankful, and to give to others will fall into place as we get to know God our Father and Jesus His Son through regular communication and prayer!  Because He will transform you!  He will make you a person who wants to live a life that showcases His goodness and mercy!
Trust me, I don’t have all the answers and I’m still figuring so much of it out myself.  But I am living proof.  A relationship with Christ WILL make you a better person.  I can say with confidence that I am a better person than I was six months ago.
Notice — I didn’t say give you a better quality of life.  I said make YOU a better person.  The life of a Christian isn’t always sunshine and daisies.  In fact, 2 Timothy 3:12 pretty much says the direct opposite:

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

I don’t say this to scare someone off from becoming a Christian, but let’s be real…  the Christian life isn’t exactly embraced by the world’s standards.  There will be people who will watch your faith journey solely to see if you will fail.  There will be those who will mock and shame you for placing your trust in Christ.  And we’d all be delusional if we didn’t acknowledge that in many parts of the world, people are martyrs for their belief in Jesus!
No matter what shape the persecution takes, the changes to our hearts far outweigh any issues that arise.  Because we must remember, THIS is not this life we’re living for.  YOLO?  Not so… there’s more after this life and we have two options.  We’re either facing eternal life in heaven, or we’re looking at eternal death in hell.
As for me, I’m living for life in heaven.  For the rewards in heaven.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
    For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  ~Matthew 5:10

As you approach New Year’s Day and make plans for self-improvement, please consider a lasting option…  a resolution that will carry you far beyond 2017.  A commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Whether a first time commitment or a renewal in your heart – please make Him center of your 2017 plans… and watch your amazing future unfold.

Dear Lord, You are the author of our lives and through You, every page can be written with a message of hope, love, and Your goodness.  Thank You for the changes You’ve brought about in my life.  Thank You for never giving up on me, but for persistently nudging me until I found my way back to You.  I’m so grateful that I have a relationship with You.  You’ve made a remarkable change in me and I look forward to the work you’re going to do in my life in 2017.  I pray for those who are looking for lasting change — that they will turn to You.  I know You have a unique plan and purpose for every person; You love everyone and want a relationship with every soul.  Not one is unredeemable in Your eyes, as long as they demonstrate their faith in You.  Thank You for Your amazing grace, Lord! 

PS:  In regards to the scripture regarding my language, the verse is from Ephesians 4:29.  I did not include it as a portion of the body of this blog as I felt it didn’t fit within the context of the broader message I was trying to convey:

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

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