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Faith for the New Year

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“New Year, New You!” Magazine headlines promise that January will bring a fresh start. Hanging up a new calendar makes us feel like we’re getting a clean slate. And hoping to break old patterns or form new habits, many of us make resolutions to help us focus on that desired change.

But after a few months, weeks or even days of starting that new diet, exercise routine or spiritual discipline, most of us find ourselves falling back into our old ways. Research shows that less than 10 percent of us who make New Year’s resolutions actually keep them.

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I asked some friends if they make New Year’s resolutions and discovered that several have found a different approach. Instead of resolving to change, they choose a word, theme or Bible verse for the year. It may be purely spiritual, like my friend Karen, who chose the word abide from John 15:4-9 this year. Others pick something more lifestyle-related, like Margie, who focused on the word margin to remind her to build availability into her daily schedule for people God may bring into her path.

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Some themes are more all-encompassing. My friend Pam chose simplicity as her word a couple years ago, and it stuck with her. As God gives her an idea of what to work on or be mindful of, she dwells on that word, and her actions flow from it. In terms of simplicity, she says, “I might get rid of ‘stuff’ like extra clothes, books, or household items. It might be unhealthy relationships or time wasted on doing things I'm not really called to do. The goal is to simplify for the sake of being free to invite God to fill my life with His priorities. I have the time, the space, the capacity for His blessings, His presence and His new mission.”

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Over the past two years, Pam’s theme involved making room for a new relationship in her life, which led to planning a wedding, selling her house, moving to a new city, and combining their homes into a smaller one. During that time, she said, “I needed to constantly go back to my word of simplicity.”

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The new year may be a good time to reflect on old habits you want to change, but if you’re looking for real, lasting change, remember that Christ offers us a clean slate any time of the year. Through His death and resurrection, we can receive forgiveness and new life in Him. And that’s a new beginning worth celebrating!

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What is the Lord calling you to focus on this year? Ask Him to show you what He wants to work on in your life. Recognize that you can’t do it alone, but the Holy Spirit working in you can give you “the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Phil. 2:13 NLT). We at Just Between Us (JBU) have gathered a list of articles here to help you discover what God wants for your life.

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