New Year, New Beginnings

New Year, New Beginnings

It is 2023! Whatever happened to 2022? It went so quickly, and they tell me the years seem to go by faster and faster as you get older. Well, I must be getting older!

Who can you be and how can you be more fully you in 2023?

I heard of a man who had an experience during his university years. The final assessment was an exam, but he also had to do a book review which would be 60% of the entire mark. He worked long and hard. He studied, researched, and did everything he could to get a good mark. When his book report came back, the comments and the mark from his professor were on the cover. It said on the cover, “Great content. Excellent bibliography. Outstanding research. Fantastic layout. Comprehensive arguments.” Then underneath was the grade. “F. Fail, ” and in big words, “Wrong assignment.” He had researched, but it just didn’t happen to be the assignment he was meant to do.

Imagine if you were doing a mathematics subject, then you decided that you were going to put in an essay. Or you are studying economics, and you put in a piece of art. If you don’t align the assessment with the subject, you fail no matter how good you are.

As we launch into 2023, in these early days and early months of 2023, what is the right assignment that God has given to you?

People often look at their circumstances. For example, they look at their age, experience, wisdom, standard of living, and money, allowing those things to dictate what they might do in the coming year.

People make New Year’s resolutions. I’ve made many, and I can tell you that I have kept very few. But, often, people don’t stop and ask what God wants them to do this year.

Have you asked God what He is asking you to do In 2023?

If we call ourselves Christian and say that we are believers and God is the Lord of our life, then we have to give some time and thought to reflect on what God is saying. Ask Him, what do you want for me? What is my assignment right now?

Being Christian changes everything about our lives. Everything. But sometimes, we have to think outside the box because God is outside the box. Sometimes we think God thinks our way, but the Scripture tells us, “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so are my ways different to your ways?” God thinks differently.

No one thought that a teenage virgin would be the mother of the Saviour.

No one thought when Jesus came, He would come as a baby.

No one thought victory would come through death on a cross.

No one thought that new life would come from the resurrection, from death.

No one thought that the first would be last and the last would be first.

No one thought that the least in the Kingdom of God would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God, and Jesus taught that no one thought that if you want to be a leader, then serve.

No one thought if you want to enter the Kingdom of God, as Jesus often said, be like a child.

Jesus has a way of turning things upside down where the first is last, and the last is first. In John’s gospel, chapter 21, in verse four, it says:

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.

That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about 100 yards off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went abroad and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn.

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.

What an incredible story of Jesus coming to the disciples. Before they knew Jesus, they had been used to fishing, so they returned to it after He died. They had fished all night when they heard a voice from the beach calling out, asking if they had caught anything. They said, “No, we haven’t caught anything.” Then the voice from the beach said, “Throw the net on the other side.” In other words, do something different.

As you start 2023, do you think you are going to get a different result by doing the same thing that you’ve always done?

As you start 2023, will you be happier if you retain the same attitudes you have right now?

As you begin 2023, are you going to do OK just hanging on, hoping that relationships that are not doing well improve?

As you begin 2023, will your work, circumstances, or finances improve if you keep doing the same things that you have always done?

Jesus says, “Throw your net out on the other side.” Some of you need to hear me say today, “Throw the net on the other side.” And God, who is with you, will be with you.

Growing in the Spiritual life or our relationship with God is not easy. So likewise, understanding God is not easy.

In all of our lives, there have been moments when we’ve been full-on or burned brightly. There are also moments when we have struggled a bit along the way. We are called to run our race. As we follow God, we are called to run according to what we can do so that our relationship would draw us more deeply into an eternal, powerful personal relationship with God.

And so today, if you are in a place where were you walking along on your journey and you’re not sure how far to go. As we begin this 2023, I encourage you to say, ‘God, here am I.’

What decisions do you need to make for your life that would make it different? What decisions do you need to make that would be out of the box? What decisions do you need to make, recognizing that you are on a journey?

Are you running with all that you have? Not running with what the person beside you has or someone else has, but running with all that you have right now? Are you experiencing the wind and the spirit of God in your face saying, “Well done, well done.” I never have to compare myself to anybody. I just have to stop and ask whether I am doing my best. Am I doing what God is calling me to do?

2023 can be your best year yet. It can be the year when you are happy and experience God’s presence and joy. That doesn’t mean there won’t be sorrow and struggle and difficulty. That is where you ask God to be with you, and you will experience His love and goodness.

Ask the question what is my best? How do I live my best in 2023?

Maybe you will have to do things that are out of the box. Perhaps you will have to do some things that you didn’t expect. Maybe God will ask that you draw closer to Him in your attitudes, prayer and actions this year.

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