A New Year is an opportunity to let go of some things, hold onto other things, and grab onto new things. It also involves various emotions. Even though a New Year can feel scary, not knowing what’s ahead, it can also be exciting with new opportunities. In some cases, it may be a relief to walk into a fresh perspective. Hope for new possibilities begins to rise. Sadness about aging, saying good-byes, or letting go of previous endeavors can be painful. Knowing there will be difficult challenges is sobering. Yet, overall, most people embrace hope as one year morphs into another. God gives hope for a New Year.
I’ve found hope looks one way in this broken world – but completely different in God’s reality. Incidentally, it makes all the difference to know which hope is which.
How does a typical dictionary define hope?
- The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best (noun)
- To look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence. (verb)
- To believe, desire, or trust (verb)
I suggest these definitions are strongly related to the world’s view of hope. God’s definition is different. The third definition above is closest to God’s definition. But it lacks the fullness and promise God offers His people. To get a better look at God’s kind of hope, let’s look into some Scriptures.
Helpful Scriptures About Hope
I want to share one of my personal favorite verses. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11) Many people hold onto this verse.
Since God already knows –
- Everything about me
- Everything I am going through
- Everything coming tomorrow and in future years –
– and because He is good with good plans – I can trust Him.
Now, “good” also has a different definition in God’s reality than the world’s definition. Subsequently, God is – in every way – morally excellent. Additionally, He is kind and loving with highest of virtues. So this is where you drive a stake of faith into life.
The Lord wants to prosper you into His purpose for your life. He does not want to harm you. And He plans to give you hope in your soul. His eye is on your future. And He cares very much about what is going on in your heart.
Incidentally, one day, I realized that two verses I’d memorized were actually back-to-back in the Bible. Here’s the verse following Jer. 29:11.
“Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” (Jer. 29: 12)
Then, to my surprise, I found yet a third verse I’d memorized also connected to these first two verses. “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29: 13)
Because God cares and is everything He claims – we have reason to celebrate Christmas and Thanksgiving each year. Consequently, the person who chooses to believe this even when their heart is breaking – they receive God’s help. Ps. 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
God makes it His business to love and tenderly care for the “brokenhearted and crushed in spirit.” Interestingly, He is impeccable at triaging your troubles. And “you” are His priority! All this because He loves you deeply and wants to help. Amazingly, God cares about holiday sadness, too. And He has credibility to teach about managing sadness. Here’s why.
Jesus has two names that are linked, but almost like opposites. “Man of Joy” and “Man of Sorrow.” You can imagine how joyfully He spoke everything into existence at creation. From the clear blue ocean, to flowering green meadows, to towering majestic mountains, to powerful, bounding animals, to delicate, transparent blossoms – and even a flavor-packed, juicy strawberry.
But then consider how filled with sorrow He must be as He sees the devastating effects on His once perfect creation and His own dear children trapped in sin. Jesus knows how to live with the tension of both joy and sorrow.
When Jesus lived on this earth, He was ever-present in the celebration of life while simultaneously participating in human sorrow. Consequently, He joined the human condition by becoming one of us. Jesus was born into the human race and experienced the full spectrum of our joys and sorrows. He was even tempted in every way we are – but without sin. (Heb. 4:15)
Yes, Jesus became a baby! And that’s why we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas . . . because God is faithful!
Interestingly, this present moment, a chain link is forming that ties your past to your future. What you think, say, and do each moment matters. Since you hold both ends of your life together in your middle, a thoughtful, courageous approach helps you make healthy choices.
- So how do you go into a new year with healthy choices?
- How do you re-visit – or let go of – unrealized goals and unfinished business?
- What do you do with unhealed hurts?
- How do you overcome fear?
- What about bad habits?
- Will you set yourself up for maximum success this new year?
Let’s explore six action steps to move you steadily into daily success this new year.
1. REGULAR TIME IN GOD’S WORD:
I know I say this so often. Spending daily time in Scripture makes a big difference. The Written Word affects your life powerfully because it’s the Living Word, Jesus Christ, on paper. This investment of time and space each day brings results:
- Growth in your character
- Guidance and direction
- Purpose to your life
- Intimate relationship with God
- Better relationships with others
- Sense of peace and joy
Regular time in God’s Word helps you live inside Jer. 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
2. SINCERE PRAYER DRAWS YOU CLOSE TO GOD:
Be close in your heart to God at all times by simple faith. Talk to the Lord through your day – about your problems, fears, sadness, joys, plans, needs . . . everything! Set apart Jesus as Lord in your heart. (1 Pet. 3:15) Enjoy His friendship. (Jn. 15:15) Worship Him.
Regular, sincere prayer draws you close to God. Then Jer. 29:12 becomes your reality. “Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”
3. CHOOSE CHEER:
You have control over your disposition. No matter how hard things become, choose cheer over anxiety, anger, or pouting. When you suffer, especially unjustly, remain conscious of God’s presence and sovereignty over your situation. Cheer is good medicine.
Prov. 17:22 promises hope through practicing cheer. “A cheerful heart is good medicine.”
4. DEVELOP HEALTHY HABITS:
What you practice is what you become. So, examine your habits and patterns carefully.
- Food options.
- Amount of sleep.
- How you spend your free time.
- What you allow yourself to think about all day.
- The quality of relationships you pursue.
- Connecting with God throughout the day.
- Wholesome reading and movie material.
- Edifying conversation and language.
- Are you a good influence to others?
Setting up structured yet flexible patterns helps you develop healthy habits.
There are many resources to help set good goals. And incidentally, thoughtfully written goals and objectives help you carry out action steps to grow personally and professionally.
To set up a simple One-Page Goals Sheet, go to our website for a helpful tool that keeps you on track all year. I encourage you to use this tool to set up reasonable, practical goals for this next year. Just put in the search bar – “One-Page Goals Sheet.” You will see Step One and Step Two. This material helps you set up and carry out simple goals in your life.
Reasonable goals and thoughtful objectives help you live a healthy life all year.
Many people live their lives as half a person . . . or less. Subsequently, being a whole person means pursuing a variety of relationships, experiences, practices, interests, investments (not necessarily financial), and habits. A whole person appreciates the sciences, various forms of art, literature and world news, engaging a hobby, gathering with a group, simply enjoying quiet time alone. All these, and many more, help you be a more balanced, whole person.
NOTE: Steps 3 – 6 help you be the unique person God created – if you pursue Him with all your heart. “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29: 13)
Application Thoughts And Questions
- Will you commit to spend regular time in God’s Word this next year?
- Have you discovered sincere prayer connects you to God in your heart?
- Do you choose cheer each day?
- How healthy are your life habits?
- Have you set goals and objectives for this next year? I encourage you to use the 1-Page Goals Sheet articles to do this.
- Do you choose to be a whole person, growing each day to be like Jesus?
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Visit our website for resources to get into God’s Word and live an Alive and Active Life.