How to make a Fresh Start
Preparing for the New Year
“The Lord says, `Forget about what has happened before. Do not think about the past. [Instead] look at the new thing I am going to do.’” Isaiah 43:18-19 (NCV)
HOW TO MAKE A FRESH S.T.A.R.T. IN 2007
“A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.” Pr. 28:13 (LB)
Common Causes of Failure
· WE DON’T ________________________________________
“A sensible man watches for problems and prepares to meet them. The fool never looks ahead and suffers the consequences.” Pr. 27:12 (LB)
· WE DON’T ________________________________________
“Plans fail without good advice.” Pr. 15:22 (NCV)
· WE ________________________________________
“If you give up when trouble comes, it shows that you are weak.” Pr. 24:10 (NCV)
“You have experienced many things. Were all those experiences wasted? I hope not!” Gal. 3:4 (ICB)
“According to your faith will it be done to you.” Mt. 9:29 (NIV)
“We should make plans – counting on God to direct us.” Pr. 16:9 (LB)
“Being afraid of people can get you into trouble…” Pr. 29:25 (NCV)
“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” Pr. 4:23 (GN)
“Happy are those who… are always meditating on God’s Word… They are like trees along a river… that do not dry up. They succeed in everything they do.” Ps. 1:1-3 (GN)
“`You will not succeed by your own strength or power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord.”
Zech. 4:6 (NCV)
“When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same any more. A new life has begun!” 2 Cor. 5:17 (LB)
How to make a Fresh Start
Preparing for the New Year
If you had 2006 to live over again, I wonder how many of you would probably do something differently? The reason we do that is because we fail. We make mistakes. Sometimes you give life your best shot and you still come up short.
The fact is, you're going to fail quite often in life. It's not a matter of if you will fail -- you will fail many times, because nobody's perfect. We all make mistakes. You're going to have setbacks. You're going to have problems. You're going to make mistakes. You're going to have defeats, losses. You will fail.
As we begin this New Year – 2007 – I want us to consider the question: How Do You Make A Fresh Start? What is God's way of making a fresh start? Regardless of what happened in '06, how do I get a fresh start?
The Bible says that God is passionate about your future. Isaiah 40:3 “The Lord says, `Forget about what has happened before. Do not think about the past. Instead, look at the new things I'm going to do.'" He says don't think about the past. It's behind you.
You need to remember this: God is far more interested in your future than He is in your past. He doesn’t want to remind you of the things you've done wrong. He's interested in your future.
Regardless of what kind of failure you had in 2006; whether financial failure, relational failure, failure in your marriage or moral failure; you maybe really blew it and you may have made some decisions you're so ashamed of you hope nobody ever finds out about. Regardless of the failure you've had in your life, you can start over.
Firstly, Stop making excuses.
If I want to start over, I have to stop making excuses for my failures. I've got to stop blaming other people. I've got to stop seeing myself as the victim of my circumstances.
Let’s be clear on this: Other people can hurt you, there’s no doubt. Other people can scar you, without a doubt. But nobody can ruin your life except you. Nobody can ruin your life without your permission. You have a choice and that is you can choose how you're going to respond to those hurts. You don't know what's going to happen in 2007. You have no idea. But you can choose how you choose to respond. The Bible says that the starting point is to just be honest and accept responsibility for my part in the problem.
Proverbs 28:13 “A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confess and forsakes them he gets another chance.” He gets a fresh start. He says the starting point to starting over is to be honest and face up to the problems, that most of the problems in my life, most of the failures, are my fault.
That’s pretty hard for us because we like to pass the buck. We live in a society, a culture, that loves to shift the blame. We blame the environment, the economy, the government, our parents. It's always somebody else's fault. Everything is attributed to something else. But God says, Most of your failures, you caused.
Very often we fail in life because we don't listen to others. We don't listen to good advice when it's offered. The Bible says in Proverbs 15 "Plans fail without good advice."
We don’t listen to the advice of other people because we think we don't need it. It's called pride. Ego. Ego stands for "Edging God Out." When you think you know more than God and you push Him out of your life, you're on an ego trip and that's a trip that leads to a dead end. You're never going to get anywhere if you think you've already arrived. The person who gets too big for his britches, will eventually be exposed in the end. That's the problem with pride.
We fail to listen to other people and we fail as a result. So we need to stop making excuses.
Secondly, we need to Take stock
I need to take stock of my life. That means I need to evaluate all my experiences. I need to look at what I have left after the failure. Regardless of what's happened in 2006, one of the things you still have – in fact, one of the things you have today that you didn’t have in the past year, is more experience and God wants you to use those experiences. He doesn't want you to waste them. He wants you to learn from them and capitalize on them.
When you're starting over, making a fresh start, taking stock of your life, you need to realize that some of your experiences have faults. They have faulty information. They are lies. Not everything you've seen, heard and experienced are true. You can have false memories. You can believe false things, especially when you do things on your own – when you’re accountable to anyone else.
That's why you have to build your life not on experience but on God’s word because that is true. It’s unchanging. Experiences lie all the time. But you need to take stock of your experiences.
Thirdly you need to Act in faith
This is the third step in getting a fresh start. Act in faith. You have to launch out into new territory in 2007. The Bible says that the key to changing anything is faith. If you want to change your circumstance, it takes faith. If you want to change your personality, it takes faith. If you want to change anything in your life, you have to have faith.
Jesus says this in Matthew 9. "According to your faith it will be done to you." That is a very simple statement but it's very powerful. “According to your faith it will be done to you.” That means we tend to get out of life what we expect.
What are you expecting in 2007? The person who says, "I can!" and the person who says, "I can't!" are both right. We get out of life what we expect because "According to your faith it will be done to you."
So you need to start expecting more. Start expecting more of yourself, start expecting more from God, start expecting more out of life. That's the principle of faith.
God does not want you to wallow in your past. He wants you to get on with your future, and so we need to make our plans, counting on God to direct us.
Have you ever realized that when you set goals you're actually doing a faith activity? Goals are statements of faith. A goal is simply a dream with a deadline put on it. It's saying, "I believe God wants me to do such and such by a certain point in time." It's a statement of faith. As a church we need to set some goals for 2007 with regard to development; and I mean both in relation to the development of our church building but also in relation to the development of the spiritual aspects of our lives.
In both areas there may be fear of failure? So how do you get rid of that? Faith. That's why the third step in starting over is Act in faith. Faith is not the absence of fear. Faith is moving ahead in spite of your fear. Faith is doing the thing you fear the most. Doing the thing you fear the most, even when you're scared to death and you're trembling while you do it, you move ahead in spite of your feelings. That's faith. It's doing the thing you fear the most.
Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt where they had been slaves for 400 years. Pharaoh’s army was in hot pursuit behind them. The only way they would be saved was somehow to get through the Red Sea. And they did, by faith.
God led them through it. He took them through their problem. He didn’t remove it but He did take them through it. Their task was to act in faith and keep walking. If you act in faith, He'll take you through your Red Sea.
Where do you need to act in faith today? Where do you need to take steps of faith to start over?
And then finally, we need to Trust
Trust God to help me succeed. Depend on Him. Don’t depend on yourself. You’ve already proved you can’t do it on your own. That’s why you’ve failed. Some people just don’t get it. They stumble and fall and then they get up and say, “I’ll just try harder!” It’s like you go up to a wall and bang your head against it and the wall doesn’t fall down. You try it again and again and you keep doing it thinking, “Maybe it will fall over this time.” But it doesn’t . You see, you can’t change on your own. So some people just don’t get it. When they stumble and fall, they just try harder - make some new resolutions - but will power won’t do it.
You don’t get a fresh start by trying. You get a fresh start by trusting.
Zechariah 4:6 “`You will not succeed by your own strength or power but by My Spirit, says the Lord.’” The secret of success is not by trying but by trusting in starting over. Would you like to wipe the slate clean? Have you ever thought “I’d like to redesign my life from the ground up”?
“When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!” God specializes in new beginnings. Jesus has the power to do that. It’s called being born again. It doesn’t mean reincarnation. It just means the chance to start over. A fresh start. God says, “I don’t want you to turn over a new leaf. I’m going to give you a whole new life.”
How does God turn a negative into a positive? He takes the minuses in your life and turns them into a positive by making a cross. Jesus Christ was hung up for your hang-ups. He died on the cross for everything you feel bad about. He was crucified between two thieves so you could stop crucifying yourself over those past failures. That’s called grace. You say, “But I wasted so many years.” God says in Joel in the HB, “I will restore the years the locusts have eaten.” and again He says in Isaiah “I will give you beauty for ashes.”
This year, 2007, let’s together as a church family and as individuals ask Jesus to help us make a fresh start.
Lord God, only You can fully know the hurt in our heart. You’ve seen us stumble. You’ve watched us fall. You’ve watched us fail. You know the areas of our lives that we’re ashamed of. You know where we’ve hurt others. Father, You also know how we’ve been hurt by other people. Today, as we begin the New Year we ask You to give us a fresh start. We accept responsibility for our part of the problems in our life. We’re going to stop making excuses. Forgive us for not listening to You. Forgive us for thinking that we knew better. Help us to take stock of the good that You’ve brought into our life. Help us to learn from our experiences. Today we want to act in faith; we want to open up our lives to You. We ask You, Lord Jesus to be our Saviour. We ask You to forgive us and to guide us from here on out. Help us to focus on You and Your word. We want to trust You to give us the power to start over and to do the right thing from here on. Come into our life and take charge. In Your name, we pray. Amen.”