Published January 3, 2012

Paul's Epistle...
"Happy New You!"

You've heard it a lot the past few days – "Happy New Year!" And it's a wish we have for you, as well.

Everybody likes "new" things. We like new products. We like "new and improved" ways of doing things. We like helpful new technologies. We like making new friends. We're always looking for something "new."

So — what's "new" for 2012? Only time will tell, of course. But there is one thing that could be "new" for the new year – and you're the only person who can do anything about it. What can be "new" for the new year – is you!

Each one of us knows – if we're honest enough to admit it – areas in our life that need improvement. Fortunately, for the Christian, we have help in cleaning up these areas – making them "new." After all, Paul – in Romans 6:4 – tells us that Christ died and was raised again from the dead so that "we too might walk in newness of life." Paul goes on to call it "the new life of the Spirit" (Rom. 7:6) because "the Spirit gives life" (2 Cor. 3:6). The Lord, through His Holy Spirit, is ready and willing – eager, in fact – to help us find that "new and improved" life.

Each of us needs "renewal" in our lives – a personal renewal, a spiritual renewal. The Bible, of course, has a lot of say about such renewal.

Psalm 51:10 is a prayer: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." We need a little "Holy Spirit scrubbing" and spiritual renewal.

Isaiah 40:31, a well-known verse, reminds us, "...they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." The Lord will renew our strength to be able to do His will – if we ask Him to do so.

Paul, in Romans 12:2 reminds us that we as Christians are different from others: " not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." God wants to renew our minds with thoughts that are pure – and in tune with His will for our lives.

Isn't that what we want? Isn't that, as Christians, our greatest desire – to live our life as Christ would have us live, in the perfect will of God? Paul calls it putting on the "new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him..." (Col. 3:10).

Of course, only God can provide the complete renewal that we seek. As we live our lives in conformity to His will, as we stay in touch with Him through prayer and the study of His Word, He will continually renew our minds, our hearts, our spirits. It's called the process of sanctification.

How serious are you about this for 2012? And, for that matter, for the rest of your life?  

The Apostle Paul has a concise summary of some things in Ephesians 4 that you need to remember if you are to live as Christ would have you live, quoted here from the vivid Living Bible paraphrase:

"If you have really heard His voice and learned from Him the truths concerning Himself, then throw off your old evil nature — the old you that was a partner in your evil ways — rotten through and through, full of lust and sham.
"Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better. Yes, you must be a new and different person, holy and good. Clothe yourself with this new nature.
"Stop lying to each other; tell the truth, for we are parts of each other and when we lie to each other we are hurting ourselves.
"If you are angry, don't sin by nursing your grudge. Don't let the sun go down with you still angry — get over it quickly; for when you are angry you give a mighty foothold to the devil.
"If anyone is stealing he must stop it and begin using those hands of his for honest work so he can give to others in need.
"Don't use bad language. Say only what is good and helpful to those you are talking to, and what will give them a blessing.
"Don't cause the Holy Spirit sorrow by the way you live. Remember, he is the one who marks you to be present on that day when salvation from sin will be complete.
"Stop being mean, bad-tempered and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ" (vss. 21-32).

Sounds like a good plan for the new year!

In many cultures, the end of one year and the start of another is a time for "cleaning out" the old in order to start fresh and clean for the new year. Perhaps if you truthfully evaluate your own life, you might find some "cleaning" that needs to be done. This is a great time to do that. Are you ready for "out with the old, in with the new?" 

Let us each resolve for this new year – more than ever before – to seek the Lord's will in all that we do and to allow Him to work His will in our lives. I challenge you to do that as we move into 2012.

"Happy New You!"

- Paul

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