“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
For some of us we see this as a fresh start, a clean slate or at least a clear calendar for the new year. And some of us are still dragging along, already missing the Christmas season.
Now, if we look back just a few days we can reminisce about the holidays, and our culture proudly emphasizes that Christmas is a time where we accumulate. We accumulate gifts, memories, sleep, calories, and entertainment. But the first Christmas was all about what was surrendered, in order that we might receive the gift of Christ.
For years I would tell staff of mine, “We give up things we love, for things we love even more!” I first heard that phrase in my mid-30s and it has stuck with me ever since. We don’t always have the luxury of accumulation, there are times when we have to shed, get rid of, surrender and give up things in our life, so that we can actually take on what’s in front of us.
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. – Philippians 3:12-14
Hebrews 12 has some great imagery in verse 1 as it relates to this race. The writer of Hebrews says, “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”
When is it ok to give up/surrender?
We give up a lack of health (unhealthy food, begin to work out, get more sleep, lose weight)
We give up toxic practices (binge drinking, drug abuse, self harm)
We give up excessive alone time (build relationships, serve others, volunteer at Gateway)
We give up childish ways (emotional outbursts, friendships, a life not so “me-centered”)
We give up fear (perfect love casts out all fear)
STORY: My mom had a friend whose boyfriend married her even though she got pregnant and the baby wasn’t his. He sacrificed his own name and integrity to cover the person he said he loved.
Ecclesiastes 3:There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
…the list continues for a few more verses, and for the sake of our time together today, let me add one more.
“There is a time to hold on and there is a time to surrender.”
So let’s go back to Philippians and let it sink in:
I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
So as we begin the race of 2023, we are all carrying certain baggage or weight from 2022 and before 2022.
So what are we needing to surrender today? Those things that are hindering us that we need to cast off. What is the sin…what are the things that separate us from God that we need to recognize and turn away from?
“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety. Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in. Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.
This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
II Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) – This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Let’s not look to yesterday to determine our today and tomorrow’s. The old is gone, and the new has come, but what do we make of the new day afforded us? Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, whether we are looking to explore his validity or look to him for our salvation and healing.
As we answer the questions around surrender, and what we need to surrender to kick off this new year, we are also inviting you to participate corporately with our faith community at Gateway Church.
January 8th we will kick off a week of prayer…no special activities outside of what we do on a weekly basis will be taking place. What if we all surrendered some time each day to pray. We have a digital download available of our prayer guide for the week, and we will have some physical copies at your campus lobby on Sunday the 8th.
Each campus will have opportunities to pray and connect that week of the 8th through the 15th, and how amazing would it be to have hundreds if not a few thousand of us praying to kick off our year?