How many times have you come to this first day of the year prepared to make changes in your life, only to fail a few weeks or months into the New Year? Do you know that the Bible tells us that we have been given a special, unique and personalized gift to assure our ability to sustain lasting change? Please read more…..
In Ephesians 4:1, St. Paul challenges us to: “Live in a manner worthy of the call you have received.” This presumes two things. First, it presumes we have been called and second, it presumes there is a proper manner in which we are called to live. Paul does not just leave us hanging and wondering how we can do this. He assures us that we can have lasting change and live according to God’s plan. In Ephesians 4:7, he writes this: “But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
Today, as we reflect on God’s call and on His challenge to live our life in conformity to His Son’s teachings, I want to place emphasis on the good news that each of us has been given the exact grace we need to sustain our needed conversion.
It is not only on the first day of each year that we are called to change. As Christians, we are called to a life of continuous conversion. The Holy Spirit works within us to bring about this conversion. When we are moved by the grace St. Paul spoke of, we are challenged to turn towards God and away from sin. We need to accept God’s gift of forgiveness and righteousness, and become a new person in Christ.
The work which the Spirit initiated in us and the call to ongoing conversion should move us from sin and self-centered living and draw us to a journey toward God. We must seek His will for our lives.
Sadly, the reality is we are sinful people. We often tend to slip right back into our selfish ways by failing to avail ourselves to God’s Grace. Each New Year’s Day, people in general, make resolutions like planning to lose weight, eat healthier, drink less alcohol, stop smoking and exercise more. Christians go even further by making plans to do a better job of controlling their anger, passions, greed, and lust. They make plans to eliminate any unchaste living. Studies show, however, that nearly 97 percent of all of us, Christians and non-Christians alike, fail to sustain these new commitments. Very soon in the New Year, we return to our old ways of living.
When Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John, He called them to leave more than just their nets behind. He called them to something much bigger. He called them to leave their lives behind. He called them to a new life in Him. He called them to repentance. He called them to be changed men. He called them to carry out their respective role in His Kingdom.
We are told they immediately followed Him. Where did they find their strength? They found it in the grace that Jesus poured out on them. Each of them was granted the exact measure of grace they needed. We know from Biblical accounts that they all stumbled along the way, but they persisted in their commitment and continually relied on God’s grace for their ongoing conversion.
One week ago, we celebrated the birth of our Messiah. Jesus came into this world to save us from our sins. He came to call us to our specific role in His Kingdom. Through His death on the cross, He set us free. Now we are called to die to ourselves. We are called to die, precisely so that we can live.
So going forth in this New Year, when we feel the temptation to abandon our resolutions for change, and to fall back into old habits and sinful ways of living, we must try to remember and find assurance that we, as Christians, have a secret spiritual weapon that assures our success. We have been given the exact grace according to the measure we need to sustain our conversion.
It is important to note that the Bible says we were given spiritual grace to change, not super human strength. We cannot change of our own power.
If you are ready to embark on your New Year’s resolutions, don’t try to do so alone. Don’t rely on your human abilities. Rely on God’s grace and you will find lasting change. If we all do this, then acting together we can carry out our role in God’s Kingdom and together we can change the world for Christ.
Let’s make this a HAPPY CHRIST FOCUSED NEW YEAR!
Dear Lord, I accept your call to change. I know that I cannot do this alone. I am comforted to know that through you all things are possible. Grant me the grace I need for lasting change, amen!
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