The new year may be a few weeks old, but it’s not too late to ditch things that should’ve expired along with 2023.
Nope. This isn’t about making New Year’s resolutions. For one thing, if you can make them, you can also break them.
Just ask 43% of the resolution makers who quit theirs by the end of January.
The first month of the year will quickly segue into February and then March. We know this. Soon, what began as a new year will turn into just another year. And unless we commit to implementing intentional change, 2024 might end the way previous years did.
But what a loss that would be. The only acceptable response to God’s gift of time is to steward it wisely by changing what we must.
How else are we going to embrace the destiny God has designed for us?
Notice what the Bible says about those opposed to change: “God, who has ruled from eternity, will hear me and defeat them; for they refuse to change, and they do not fear Him” (Psalm 55:19, GNT).
Check out other translations:
- “They never change. They never fear God” (GW).
- “Because they have not changed, therefore they fear not God” (KJ21).
- “There has been no change in them. They do not fear God” (NLV).
In other words, not changing is related to not fearing God—never a flattering assessment for anyone who confesses Christ as Lord.
So, let’s use 2024 to implement these non-negotiable changes in our lives.
This old-fashioned word means the worship of idols.
But do idols exist in the 21st century?
Absolutely. Recently, I traveled to Chinatown and bought bao from an elderly woman. In the course of the transaction, the seller confessed how she considered entering the ministry way back when. Some of her siblings worked as pastors even now, but she herself went back and forth between praying to the God of the Bible and worshipping Guan Yin, a revered female figure in Buddhism.
You don’t have to stash small Buddha statues around your workstation to commit the sin of idolatry. Anything can morph into an idol. Your job. The pursuit of wealth, health, or happiness. Your hobby. Children—or even pets.
It’s also possible for you to fall into the same trap that snared the bao seller: identifying with both Christian tenets and non-biblical philosophies.
Does this discussion resonate? Don’t let 2024 whiz by without returning to the one true God and abandoning every other idol.
There is never a bad time to file for divorce from fear, but there’s something about January that provides a prime opportunity. One reason is that a new year greets us with a lot of unknowns, which tends to scare us.
Is World War III brewing? Will inflation worsen? Is another pandemic looming?
But that’s not all. In the past few years, we have endured an uptick in miseries, exactly as Jesus prophesied: “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:6-8).
The war between Russia and Ukraine. Israel against Hamas. The 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan right on New Year’s Day. Ongoing famine in Africa. The continuing civil war in Myanmar. Syria. Somalia.
If ever there’s an appropriate time to evict fear, it’s now. Because if you don’t, fear will chip at your spiritual and emotional life, leaving you paralyzed from living life to the fullest.
Here’s an antidote to fear: remembering how Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). If you’ve made Him your Lord, He is responsible for your life. This good God will also grace you to weather turbulent times and deliver you from harm—if you shelter in place under His shadow (Psalm 91:1-3).
3. Hard Heart
If you had the power to keep 2024 from becoming a disastrous year, would you pursue it? Proverbs 28:14 says, “How blessed is the person who fears always, but one who hardens his heart will fall into disaster” (NASB).
Let’s define the term. A hard heart is one that’s hardly moved by another’s infirmity or suffering, especially if the person represents a group we categorize as “the other.”
A hard heart might also shake its fist against the Almighty, refusing to bow under His authority, holding a grudge against God.
But let’s return to the Proverbs above. It says if you don’t harden your heart, you won’t fall into one disaster after another.
So, take care of your heart (Proverbs 4:23). And if your heart is already hard, ask God to show you His perspective of the event(s) that hardened it.
If you’re open to talking with Him about it, don’t be surprised if hearing His view will soften your heart.
4. Unhealthy Communication Patterns
Has a conversation left you feeling hurt? Maybe your sibling expected you to mindread and lost it when you didn’t. Perhaps Mom books you another guilt trip to ensure your total compliance with her demands. Maybe your significant other has just answered for you (again), making you feel as valuable as a flat tire.
David Augsburger claimed that unless our communication respects others, we won’t truly grow. In Caring Enough to Hear and be Heard he wrote, “Little change and even less growth are possible until one owns the part of the communication process which he or she possesses… When at last I claim no more than is within my power… then repentance, change and growth begin.”
It makes sense for our growth as human beings to directly relate to the way we communicate with each other.
Word of Encouragement
This year, let’s eliminate fear. Idolatry. Unhealthy communication patterns.
And please attend to your hard heart.
If making the changes in this short list feels daunting, you can lean on Zechariah 4:6, “I am the Lord All-Powerful. So don’t depend on your own power or strength, but on my Spirit” (CEV).
God’s Spirit can help you implement these necessary changes and make 2024 worthwhile!
Photo Credit: ©Getty/Chonlatee Sangsawang
Audrey Davidheiser, PhD is a California licensed psychologist, certified Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapist, and IFSI-approved clinical consultant. After founding and directing a counseling center for the Los Angeles Dream Center, she now devotes her practice to survivors of trauma—including spiritual abuse. If you need her advice, visit her on www.aimforbreakthrough.com
LISTEN: Let Our Bible Study Expert Help You Start the New Year Right!
Have you ever chosen a word for the year? Whether you pick a word each year or never have before, I think this episode will help you order your life in the year to come. If you don’t know what your word is, today might be a great day for you to hear some of the things that we are promised in Christ that you in faith can claim for yourself for 2024. Keep in mind, each of these words requires faith.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
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