Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Year's Day

People celebrated "New Year" for as long as there is written history (natural response to cycles/seasons)

I.  The Day - varied with peoples, cultures, places
A.)  Winter Solstice - Return of the sun
B.)  Vernal Equinox - Spring - return of growing season
C.)  Jan. 1st. - established by Roman Senate about 153 BC - affirmed  in Julian Calendar (named after Julius Caesar) - 46 BC

So, Jan. 1st. was dedicated to the god Janus - hence "January"
2-faced god that: A.  looked forward and looked back
                           B.  god of doors, gates, etc.  -  god of transition

Gradually January 1st. became the official New Year's Day for much of the world.

II.  The Celebration?
A.  Often religious - petition gods for blessings this year.
B.  Often was just a reason to party (Babylonians celebrated to 11 days)

III.   The New Year's Resolution?  (also ancient)
Example:  Babylonians - "pay debts, return borrowed items"
Romans - promises to Janus on Jan. 1st

So, on one hand recognition and celebration of the New Year seems natural 
BUT... - the (almost) universal notion of a new beginning, new start, concerning Behavior?? - Seems inherent, programmed, wired in -- not living up to what we should

POINT:  What man is generally aware of ..... need to do better - right and wrong
Christians can know more specifically/exactly....

HOW???  Compare general revelation (nature/conscience) with Special revelation (Scripture)

Assuming... the Word is  A)  Special revelation and B) for practical application  - 2 Tim. 2:16-17
Then??  What can we learn (from Scripture) concerning... "resolutions"??? new starts/beginnings/changed behavior??

A few things we need to cultivate (develop/pursue)

#1.  Sensitivity (awareness, internal recognition of the need to do better.  Call it heart/mind/conscience/Holy Spirit - Rom. 2:14-15
Note:  awareness enhanced by  A)  exposure to the Word  and B)  openness to the Holy Spirit

#2.  Introspection (self-examination)
A) this is more than sensitivity/openness - it is a deliberate, intentional examination

B)  Examination - should be done in light of Scripture - not feelings
(feeling is a good indicator, motivator BUT not necessarily a good Judge!!

#3.  Admission  (confession .... of truth)
TO A) self    B) God - Homologeo - ta say the same thing as.
Psalm 51:3 - David knew all along he was wrong, but, not man enough to admit it.

#4.  Resolve - ie.  A) to determine to do better and B) to declare your determination - to a) self; to b) God, to c) others (accountability)

#5.  Request (for assistance)
A)  Divine - "Holy Spirit continue to convict me" - "Father, help me"
B)  Human - James 5:16

Admission + resolve + request = ????
Admission + resolve + request = Repentance

#6.  Resilience - ie.  ability to adjust/recover from pressure/stress/change/misfortune/failure....
Simple fact - we will fail miserably this year.  We are human!!

Question??  Why need?  A 2007 study at the University of Bristol found that 88% of New Year's resolutions fail!!  A Big Part of the Christian life is the ability to get up and continue on after repeated failures.

#7.  Acceptance.
Of - A) your human-ness  (sinfulness, tendency to fail) - doesn't mean therefore you don't bother to strive.  It does mean "don't despair"
Of - B)  God's forgiveness - 1 John 1:8-9 - doesn't give us license to sin or be lax or lackadaisical.

Note:  1-7 are helpful in reformation (ie:  change of behavior)
BUT, God's intent/will for you is more than reform, it = transform through growth.

Scripture = "new heart, mind, nature....etc" - John 3:4-7 - born again

These steps will work for anyone, but transformation comes from Jesus Christ.

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