It’s interesting how the New Year takes on this “magical” sense in our thinking. The clock turns over from one day to the next, and suddenly we act like anything is possible!
Lose 20 pounds – so maybe you couldn’t do it in 2019, but 2020’s another story!
Resolve to save money – while spending just as fast as last year …
Or how about John Lennon’s old line, “A very merry Christmas, and a happy New Year! Let’s hope it’s a good one, Without any fear.”
I haven’t experienced a New Year like that in my 30-some years … A new page on the calendar doesn’t automatically change us, much less change the world! A New Year also cannot erase the old. It does not undo the past …
Your “digital footprint” from 2019 remains.
The mistakes and missed opportunities from the past year … are still just that.
The habits you formed or continued in 2019 will (most likely) perpetuate into 2020.
So let’s focus on the One who can erase the sins and carry the sorrows of the past year – and of every point in our lives.
Even though New Year’s Eve is the 7th day of Christmas, it’s as good a day as any to turn our attention to the cross. The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
Paul shoots off no fireworks. There’s no Times Square ball drop. No theatrics. He has just one talking point, One Message: Jesus Christ and Him Crucified! It doesn’t seem to match the excitement and the pizzazz of New Year’s Eve around the world!
Just the cross. Only Jesus.
Paul adds in Galatians 6:14, “Far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
I don’t think I’ll be much help with your New Year’s Resolutions, but as we bid “farewell” to 2019 and “hello” to 2020, let’s do so with our sights set on Jesus!
The message of the cross is for what is past. While the calendar cannot change what has already happened, Jesus’ cross does cover all those sins.
In Romans 6:6-7 we hear this Good News: “We know that our old self was crucified with [Christ] in order that the body of sin might be [done away with], so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.”
Christ has already taken 2019 to His cross! He has set you free from sin, free to live with Him now by faith, and soon, by sight!
Not only has Christ dealt with the past, but He has dealt with the divide between heaven and earth! Colossians 1:20 tells us, through Christ, God [is reconciling] “to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross.” Likewise, Ephesians 1:10 says God’s plan is “to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.”
Jesus’ blood is like the glue that binds heaven and earth back together. No longer are we cut off from God because, in Christ, we are no longer enslaved to sin! At the cross, you have peace with God!
One more Good Word for you as far as the past is concerned: God’s Word says in Colossians 2:13-14, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses … God made alive together with Him [Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with all its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
God’s promise for you is that your sins of 2019 or 2009 or 1999, or any time, for that matter, your sins are gone – they were nailed to the cross with Christ! They were paid for, once and for all …
This message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified is also for what is yet to come. We don’t know what 2020 holds, just as there were many things (most things, really) in 2019 which we never saw coming. I’m ready to move on from 2019, although, again, I know the calendar doesn’t really make that much difference.
You’ve seen the year in review news spots and articles. You know what your own 2019 has been like. We’ve seen and heard way more bad news than we’d wish, which is why we need to hear Jesus speak His Good News over us. And He does!
Let’s conclude this old year and begin the new “at the foot of the cross.” At the cross, Jesus shows the world what love is. Jesus shows us a God who loves us, despite all the sins of our past and present and future. The cross shows us that God loves us enough to deal with our sin – He does so by dying for you, and for every single man, woman, and child. Christ endured the shame of the cross for the joy of sharing His love with you and with all who trust in Him, forever!
If that’s how our God loves us, then His love certainly follows us and precedes us into this New Year! No matter what 2020 holds, it cannot change the fact that you are dearly loved by Jesus.
Yet again St. Paul says it so much better than we can, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)
Nothing can come between you and the love of God in Christ Jesus! Absolutely nothing! Not 2019, not 2020. Nothing in this life, nor even death itself! God’s love for you in Christ Jesus abides, from one year to the next, from one age to the next, through the valley of the shadow of death, and to the house of the Lord forever!
Let’s enter into this New Year in the joyful hope that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again for us!
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
(“Abide with Me” stanza 6)
(This post was based on a sermon I delivered on 12-31-2018.)