Starting Over

By Scarlett Stough

Somewhere in the United States of America, someone is making resolutions for the New Year. Losing weight, ridding ourselves of clutter, building healthy habits of eating and exercising are all popular resolutions. Not everyone's year begins January first, but it does seem a good time to examine the way we are living and begin to make changes, not just physically, but in our relationship with God.

From time to time, everyone begins to desire a fresh start, to be able to start over and create a better way of living. God makes renewal possible no matter what time of the year it may be.

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Starting over is never easy. We have developed patterns of behavior with people which they expect to continue (1 Peter 4:1-6.)

We may find more opposition from family and friends than support as we try to change those patterns for the better. Jesus warned us that following him would create conflict with others:

Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. Luke 12:51-53

When we choose life in Christ, we are making a choice to put God first in trust and obedience. Yes, we are called to love our neighbors and our enemies, but God is the source of the power to love in this way. If we deny him, we cut ourselves off from the power to love as he loves. We must count the cost of following Jesus. We only gain that new life by denying the old way of living (Luke 14:25-35; Matthew 10:37-39.)

Volume 13 Issue 01 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation

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1 Peter 4:1-6:
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

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Luke 14:25-35:

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, 'This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.'

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear."

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Matthew 10:37-39:
"Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it."

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