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What Makes the New Year New?

Allen W. Tate, Jr.

Here we are at the beginning of a new year! What does “new year” mean? The ancients saw it as the beginning of a new cycle of the seasons, the point at which the days stopped getting shorter and started getting longer, a turning around and returning of the sun. For the Jews, the new year was evidence of God’s faithfulness.

In modern times we continue to recognize the significance of the new year, marking it as a holiday and, commonly, a time of new resolve. Why?

Foremost, I think we welcome the idea of getting a fresh start, being able to put the past year behind and look forward.

“Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus Philippians 3:13b-14.

Then there’s the idea that we get a clean slate to try new things, or, sometimes, to try again. We want to do better: lose weight, save money, read our Bible, get to work on time, etc. New Year’s Day is a time of new beginnings.

When we are saved, we truly get a clean slate, a new start.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new 2 Corinthians 5:17.

We know that we don’t keep the slate clean. We fall short of our expectations. We fail. These events leave marks on our memories. But periodically, there comes a time when we do a reset and move out with renewed vigor…

Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit…” Ezekiel 18:31.

We know that God gives us a clean slate to try again as we ask for forgiveness and renewed strength.

“His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness Lamentations 3:22b-23.

While we can do this any day, maybe this New Year is a good time to reset your dreams and goals, looking to God to lead you in His perfect way. Maybe you want to grow closer to the Lord in prayer, worship, or Bible study.

Maybe you have felt a call to service – to help others, to teach, to reach out in your local community or maybe far from your home. Maybe God is calling you to make changes that make you uncomfortable! To change direction. To take on challenges you hadn’t planned on.

The coming of the new year is a good time to examine yourself and your ministry. You get a new slate, and you get to choose what to write! Do it with intention, and with joy and thanksgiving!

May you be made new in the attitude of your mind, and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:23-24 NIV)