A Clean Slate

It’s 2021, and we have 12 brand new months ahead of us. It’s a time for a fresh start, spiritual renewal, and new beginnings. And best of all, God daily offers us His forgiveness, clearly demonstrated by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Jesus erases our sins when we confess them, and we can begin each day with a clean slate. So . . . what are you going to do in the next twelve months as the future begins to unfold? Have you made any resolutions? Do you want to lose weight, find a new job, exercise more, tell someone special that you love them, or just keep your head above water?  

You may be full of good intentions, but more often than not, the results are disheartening. By some estimates, 80% of people who successfully lose at least 10% of their body weight will gradually regain it. Even when you tell that special someone you love them, there’s no guarantee they won’t walk out of your life and never look back. The NordicTrack can quickly become a place to hang your jacket. And in an uncertain world that is constantly shoving us out of our habitual rut, each day will bring some new difficulty to challenge you.

So instead of making New Year’s resolutions, let’s ask ourselves, “What are the Lord’s goals for me this year?” Instead of using God for your own purposes, how about letting God use you for His purposes? “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

Frequently, there are dozens of voices that want to tell you what to do, whether it’s in your marriage, ministry, career, parenting, or whatever else you decide to undertake. Like the harsh sound of fingernails scraping across a chalkboard, sometimes those voices are so noisy they win out over God’s still small voice. Just as Jesus withdrew from His disciples and the crowds that often followed Him, so must we.

Find a quiet place where you can pray, read and meditate on Scripture. Do you want to invest or waste your time in the future? As you ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, He’ll direct you in the way you should go and turn your heart toward the things on God’s heart. He can direct our desires so that we will set the goals God wants us to achieve. “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Ephesians 5:17).

One of God’s goals is for us to become more like His Son, Jesus Christ. Theologian John Stott wrote, “God’s purpose is to make us like Christ, and God’s way is to fill us with His Holy Spirit.” Rely on the Holy Spirit to help you discern error and make wise decisions. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). It’s been proven that where you put your attention, you put your energy, so resolve to keep your focus on the Lord and His promises.

The Lord wants to empower you to live victoriously. When Jesus was tempted by Satan, He used biblical truth to defeat the Devil’s schemes, so memorize Scripture to arm yourself for battle. You need to take your place as a spiritual warrior, so you won’t be exploited by Satan. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

Our ultimate goal, always, should be to please God and bring Him glory. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters (Colossians 3:23). God has a place of service that is tailor-made for you; it’s what gives our lives purpose and meaning. We glorify God by proclaiming our faith, by reflecting Him in all of our activities, and entering into the spirit of worship, even when our voice may be off-key and our heart aches.   

Change in 2021 is going to come one decision at a time. It’s never easy and it’s never quick, but Jesus is the only one who can radically reshape your life. When we finally put His desires above our own and surrender ourselves to His plan, we can chalk it up to the One who holds the blueprints of our life in His nail-scarred hands. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). Ask for His wisdom, enabling, and intervention to accomplish His goals and purposes for your life in the year ahead. 

Hugh Whelchel, Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, sums it up: “We need to humbly surrender our agendas and ambitions, and seek first God’s kingdom (Matthew 6:33). This commitment, perhaps as much as anything else, will help us align our work with God’s will and further His kingdom in the process.” I agree.


The Gospel PostScript