Looking Ahead

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

Isaiah 43:18-19

Happy New Year! Hoping your holiday season was joyful.


Don’t you love love the beginning of a New Year? What other time is it acceptable to hit the reset button and start over as if nothing has happened the past 365 days. I am thankful for second chances.  


Forget the past, don’t dwell on it, look ahead and see what God is doing now.

Can you see it? 


It great to forget the past and move on. I want to be excited about the coming year anticipating the great things God will do and forget my failures.


However, each January I am guilty of doing just what God told the Israelites not to do–dwell on the past.  God’s people wanted to hold onto the past and linger there and eventually they turned away. They wanted to hold tight to the comfort of what they knew. They wanted to stay put. 


When I think about a resolution list, it doesn’t take long for me to be defeated. In no time I am calling myself a failure for not keeping the last year’s resolutions.


First, I consider my decision to lose weight. I didn’t lose a pound last year. I must be a failure. 


Next, I move on to my lack of organization I promised I would cure last year. Again, I must be a failure. The most significant advance in my organizational skills is being able to find the list of resolutions I made last year. 


Reading over my list again today, I am struck by what is missing. Nowhere on the list did I make it a priority to put God at the center of my resolve.


I made a list of things I wanted, but what did God want for me in the coming year?


Could this be why each of my resolutions failed and died like an early daffodil bloom in a late winter snow? I did not perceive what God wanted for the coming year.


So, I made a new list this New Year’s Day, and before I numbered one item,  I asked God for wisdom and a revelation for His will for the New Year. Then, I asked myself a few questions.


Is this resolution focusing on God or me?

Most of my resolutions focus on how to improve myself. Since I have already mentioned that the number one resolution is to lose weight, I had to ask why is that goal important. Did I want to lose to improve my health or be more like I was before three children and after twenty years? The Israelites were not a good witness of God’s power, love and grace if they dwelt on the past and their failures and I am not a good witness if I want to look like the “me” of the past. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (Corinthians 5:17). The new “me” just weighs more than my old self. My revised resolution is to eat better and move more; God will take care of the rest.


On whose strength am I relying, mine or God’s?

Without fail, I attempt to complete my resolutions on my strength. There is a voice in my head that screams, “You can do this.” However, the voice disappears at the first glimmer of failure. In the same revelation to the Israelites, Isaiah reminds them of the amazing things God had accomplished for them. He had parted the sea, led the armies in and now they lay at the bottom of the water. That same power is available when we face a difficult task.  “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26) God’s strength will sustain us when we are weakest. In my resolutions, I want God’s strength to be the only way I can finish the task. 


Who gets the glory, me or God? 

In any change in my life, is God glorified? If not, then I must abandon the goal. Worldly glory is fleeting, but the glory of God is eternal. Whatever my goal, the result must glorify God. Paul reminds the Corinthians of this pursuit in 1 Corinthians 10:31 when he writes, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”


What’s the plan?

God does not tell us to make resolutions, but He does tell us to examine our lives regularly. Lamentations 3:40 says, “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” So resolutions can be a good thing. However, just a desire and a wish are not enough. One reason our plans fail may be because there is no plan. If you were going to build a house, you would use a plan, a blueprint. Therefore, you need a plan to reach your goal. What are the specific steps that will help me attain my goal? Is the goal realistic?  For instance, one of my resolutions is to read the Bible in one year. To complete this decision, I found a reading plan. Each day I know what I have to do to finish reading the Bible this year. Also, many experts suggest sharing your goals with friends or find an accountability partner. Reaching your goal will be much easier if you have a friend to help you stay on track. 


Is this a worldly goal? 

To be honest, most of my past resolutions and failures were the result of advertising. I wanted to be thinner so that I could wear a certain brand of jeans I had seen in a magazine. Or, I wanted to run a marathon because I saw someone on television do the same. All worldly ambitions.  In Titus 2:11-12 we are reminded, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,  while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  Just say “No” to worldly pursuits. Instead, consider goals that pursue a closer relationship with Jesus. The rewards are eternal and life-changing.


After asking these questions, my list of resolutions is shorter, more realistic, and hopefully more about God’s will for the coming year. Here’s a snippet: read through the Bible, more intentional in my relationships, and start a prayer group. I will admit; however, I am not giving up on the weight loss. This could be the year! Hoping your resolutions and plans for the coming year are blessed.


Father, thank you for second chances and the opportunity to start over. Your faithfulness is everlasting. Remind us to look ahead and not linger in the past. The past teaches us much, but if we stay there, we miss the blessings and power you lavish on us as we move forward. We ask that you guide our plans for the coming year.  

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