New Year, New You
Every New Year many of us make New Year’s resolutions. Typically they are to loose weight or exercise more, get on a budget, quit smoking, get organized, or some other area of our lives that we want to see improved. For most of us it is a focus on self improvement. But you realize that the majority of us fail.
Do you think as believers we should approach the New Year different than the world?
As believers I would argue we are called to something much deeper than self improvement. Let us turn to Colossians chapter 3 and seek what God wants are focus to be in 2023.
The world emphasizes self help and methods to improve our habits to improve our earthly existence but what does God want for us? We are going to begin in verse 1 of chapter 3
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
The first thing I want to call your attention to is in verse 4, were should our focus be? On improving our earthly existence?
4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Heaven is our home isn’t it. That is what we should be living for. Not that a goal loosing weight or excising more or getting on a budget is bad I would argue they are secondary. I believe that if we obey the Lord and what He is saying in this text those goals will be accomplished as we are sanctified and as we obey. So with our focus on God’s eternal kingdom and our renewed focus in 2023 on eternity. What does God call us to? What should be our New Year’s resolutions according to this passage? I want to highlight 2 this morning. ANd they are actually interrelated. We can’t do the one with out the other.
First God calls us to “seek the things above or set your mind on things above”
I need to back up a second to verse one. The first step to a new you in 2023 is what? Let’s look at verse 1 again.
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
The first step is regeneration isn’t it? If then you have been raised with Christ. Have you this morning? Has the Spirit of God breathed life into your dead soul? If not that is the first step seek Him while He can still be found.
Salvation isn’t the end game, it is the beginning. It is the new birth, what happens when a baby is born? We feed them and care for them and what happens they grow. ThIs truth is the same spiritually isn’t it? You want to feed on the Word of Christ and you want to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, right?
SO if you are in Christ, the first New Year’s resolution is to “Seek the things that are above” or “Set your minds on things above”
How do we seek or how do we set our mind on things above? The Word of God right? Are you reading it everyday are you meditating on it? Quick question does buying an exerciser bike help you loose weight? I mean just buying it and letting it set in you house help you loose weight? Of course not, just like buying a Bible and letting it sit on your shelf doesn’t help you grow spiritually fit either. Does riding the bike a half hour a week on Sunday morning help you get in shape and loose weight if you eat junk food and sit on the couch the rest of the week well of course not. Then why do we treat our spiritual lives the same? The only way to set our minds on things above is to be in the Word and in prayer and seeking the leading of The Holy Spirit daily.
I was talking with a friend this week and we both have some difficult decisions to make and as we talked I felt foolish. The pattern that we are all susceptible to emerged in our conversation. We have a tendency to neglect our relationship with the Lord. Until we need wisdom and we are facing a difficult decision and then we turn to Him. But when we do are we looking for Him and what He is trying to teach us or do we want Him to reveal the least painful path forward? Do I want to go through the trials He has for me or do I want Him to lead me in the least painful path? Remember God uses our trials to mold us into the character of His son doesn't He. Look back at verse 4
4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Remember God is not looking to bless you with your best life now, He is preparing you for your best life when Christ appears and you will appear with Him in glory. Amen?
The second New year’s resolution from God you need to focus on in 2023 is in verses 5-11
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
The second resolution from God is He wants you to put off the old self. He actually states it a little stronger than that doesn’t He? He says put it to death! Why are we called to this? Does it earn us more love from the Father? No! Does it earn our salvation? No! Salvation is only by the shed blood of Jesus on Calvary isn’t it? Look at verses 12-17 with me.
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
So why, why focus in 2023 on putting on the new self and putting to death the things of the flesh? Verse 12
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
We chosen that is God calls us to. We are holy that is you were set apart from the world. TO have compassionate hearts and to be kind and humble and meek and patient. Why to give glory to God amen?
Our reward for self improvement New year’s resolutions are good. Arn’t they ? It is a good thing to loose weight and excerises. It is a good thing to stick to a budget and get financially health but how do those rewards compare to the rewards of putting the old self to death and setting our minds on heavenly things?
Our reward is great! Look at verse 15
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
No matter how successful you are at improving your person health this year, it will never give you the peace of Christ.
Most people here are aware of my journey to freedom from anger and the greatest rewards insn’t the improved personal relationships which has been a very important reward. The deeper reward has been the peace of Christ that has ruled in my heart. The truth is the peace of Christ can’t rule when we allow the sin nature to rule. Our Hearts without the peace of Christ are filled with stress and worry and anger. I cannot even explain the joy that comes when you fan into flame the peace of Christ in your heart. Nothing in this world can compare. SO How do we get there? How do we accomplish this? I want to challenge every one here to meditate on this passage. Ask the Lord to speak to you. How does he want you TO grow? I can’t tell you what God wants you to put to death in 2023. Only His Spirit speaking to you as you meditate on His word can reveal to you this truth. This passage has quit the list of sin He wants extinguished in our lives and quit the list of positive qualities He wants to grow in your life through His Word and through the prompting of the Spirit through prayer. But you need to act this morning and through out the coming year. You must seek you must set your mind on things above. If you don’t you will default to sin. You will continue in your sin and you will continue to lack peace and joy and hope.
I want to close with this quote. I believe it is from Charles Spurgeon
“Happy is the man who posses a Bible! Happier still is he who reads it! Happiest of all is he who not only reads it , but obeys it, and makes it the rule of his faith and practice.”
As we prepare our hearts for communion this morning we are reminded that the communion table is a table of grace. You will never be good enough in you own effort to come, but Paul warns us in
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.