Download our best-selling Bible Study, Introduction to the Christian Life!

New Year, Same Hope

By Reverend Michael Farias

It was the first Saturday of the new year as I drove a familiar route, and I noticed something different.  I realized that an unusual number of cars was parked at a certain intersection.  It was a stark contrast to what the area typically looked like on an early Saturday morning.  I thought to myself that there must be an event of some sort taking place. Then it hit me: there is a local fitness establishment near the intersection, and the cars were likely those of patrons who began the new year with a resolution; to get fit or lose weight.

 


According to one commonly sited statistic, only 8 percent of new year’s resolutions are actually kept.  That is a 92 percent failure rate.

 


Many people start out the new year with good or even great intentions to alter a behavior or lifestyle.  They start out with hope and an expectation of what may come, only to be disappointed.  There may be goals that are never accomplished and dreams that never materialize, but we can still be of good cheer.  We can always count on one hope that will not fail.

 


There is really only one place that we can put our hope and not be disappointed; that is in Christ Jesus and His second coming.  It is often referred to as the Blessed Hope.


For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  I Thessalonians 4:16-17   


Let’s face it; putting our hope in anything, any place, or anyone other than the Lord will result in disappointment.


As we enter into a new year, let’s do so with anticipation and expectation, but let’s not misplace our hope and let’s not focus on hope alone.


The writer of Hebrews tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).


Think about that for a moment. Faith is the substance of things hoped for.  There is a reason faith and hope are mentioned in the same sentence.  There is a connection between the two.  Hope is connected to faith.


What that means to me is that if I hope for something to come to pass, I must exercise faith.  But, how?  What does an exercise of faith look like?  I believe the Bible tells us very clearly in the book of James.  First, though, let’s see what dead faith is.


What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  James 2:14


James says that faith by itself is not profitable. Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:17 


Faith alone is not going to produce results.  So then, what does?  How can I hope for a better year and an all new me in 2018 knowing that I have a 92 percent chance of failure?  Why bother?  Is there a way to overcome these demotivating odds?


There is a way, and it is found in the Bible.


But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  James 2:18 


There it is, it’s very clear and very simple.  After James tells us that faith without works is dead, he tells us that we can see his faith by looking at his works.  I understand this to mean that faith is like a résumé.  If you want to see someone’s faith, look at what they have accomplished.


Noah built the Ark by faith.  He cut the boards and pounded nails.  He participated.


Abraham was called to go, so he went by faith, not even knowing where he was going.  He took action.


By faith, the children of Israel marched around the walls of Jericho until the walls fell down.  They participated like Noah, and took action like Abraham.


Yes, it’s a new year, but our hope remains the same. 


I wish you all the success possible in this new year, and hope you can beat the odds in whatever you resolve to do in 2018.  You can do it, by faith, but not by faith alone.  It will take your active participation.


Have a Greater Than Gold year.