How often do the angmoh New Year and Chinese New Year both fall in January?
Launching this New Year is Salt&Light: Word in Season, a monthly series of original Bible devotions and reflections from leaders in God's Kingdom.
Pastor Edric Sng // January 25, 2023, 8:50 pm
During the New Year, our faith, too, needs renewal, says Pastor Edric Sng. "In Romans 12:1-3, the Apostle Paul spells out the 3 things that we need to do to keep renewed." Photo by Angela Roma on Pexels.
Believe it or not – only about a third of the time.
When they do, like in 2023, it gets hectic. Out with the old, and in with new resolutions, new furniture, new clothes. In seasons where the economy is better and COE prices are lower, throw in a new car, too.
It’s like a mad, compressed season of renewal.
The idea of renewal is more than merely being made new.
It is re-newal. The re- signifies that it once was new, before somewhere along the way, the newness is lost.
Our faith needs that renewal. And our God is so good He tells us how.
Like how a new car stops smelling new after a while. Like how your new shoes no longer feel new once they take the first scuff. Like how the notes you score in your Chinese New Year angbaos no longer feel newly-minted once they’re put back into circulation.
It is the same with our faith. We are all, at some point, new. For converts from other faiths, we are born again, new creations in Christ.
Those who were born into Christian families may not know that feeling. But ideally, we all have a moment of epiphany – a personal encounter and revelation of God that makes Him more than mere tradition or family habit. And we see Him anew.
But … life, you know? So many distractions, discouragements, diversions. And before you know it, you’re the car that’s lost that new car smell.
Everyone misses that new car smell. Go to any petrol station, find the shelf selling fragrances, and the ones that promise you your car will smell like new are always among the best-sellers. You could be driving a beat up, 18-year-old COE car, but load up enough car fragrance and – close your eyes, breathe in deep – you could maybe recapture that new car feeling. And you’re happy driving it again (please open your eyes first though).
Our faith needs that renewal. And our God is so good He tells us how, in Romans 12:3, where the Apostle Paul spells out the 3 things that we need to do to keep renewed.
3 Ways to stay renewed in faith
1. Rein in your body
Romans 12:1 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.
The renewal of the body is a process of daily renewal, daily obedience, daily surrender.
Daily, we are tempted to sin.
Sometimes we find victory. Sometimes we fail. If the body is the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), there are times that Temple is desecrated.
And so we bring that body into the workshop.
Confession and repentance to once again be painted with a coat of His righteousness (1 John 1:9). Then tapping into the Spirit to help keep from sin (Galatians 5:16).
The verb offer – read it as an ongoing, continuous action word. It’s not a once-off, never-again thing. The renewal of the body is a process of daily renewal, daily obedience, daily surrender.
2. Renew your mind
Romans 12:2 – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Think and act God’s way. We are blessed with the great pleasure of pleasing Him.
As believers, the way we think can go down three paths.
The first is to have a mind that is culturally-influenced. The way of the world – as informed by the prince of the world – who John 12:31 reminds us is Satan.
The second is to have a mind that is carnally-influenced. The way of the flesh, as informed by the desires of our sinful flesh (Galatians 5:17).
And the third is to have a mind that is Christ-influenced. The Way, the Truth, the Light.
We seek renewal by rejecting the pattern of the world – culture and carnality – and accepting that God’s Word and Will are better. No, not merely better – good and perfect.
Not only that, they are pleasing. Think and act God’s way. We are blessed with the great pleasure of pleasing Him.
3. Restrain your ego
Romans 12:3 – For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Your body and your mind are hard enough to sacrifice and surrender. But your ego is the hardest of all.
Your ego is the pride in you that wants to believe that you know better than God.
“God, you say this … but I think this other way is better.”
“God, you want this … but I want this other thing instead.”
“God, you command me to do this … but I’d rather do that.”
Once the ego wins these internal debates, there is little hope for renewal of our body or mind. As long as we think we know better than God, we will go with what we want for ourselves.
It’s a new year – twice over – this January. It’s time for renewal.
And so the key to truly being renewed in Christ is losing our ego – our pride, our self-importance, our self-love. We need to love God more than we love ourselves.
How do we do that? The answer is right at the start of the chapter. Before Paul starts to talk about what needs to change, he talks about why it needs to change. Motivation before methodology.
Romans 12:1 – “Therefore, brethren, in view of God’s mercy …”
This is after 11 chapters of talking about how everyone, Jew and Gentile, deserves eternal damnation (Romans 3:23), and yet because of the gift of God through His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23), there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1) for those of us in Christ Jesus!
We will never fully see the need to surrender body, mind and ego until we see the weight and truth of what Jesus has done for us.
He should have seen us as unholy and unworthy of His love. But instead He sees us through a new lens – the lens of love, the ultimate demonstration being at the Cross of Calvary, where the Son of God died for our sins.
And then He gives us another lens to see ourselves with – the lens of renewal, as we understand that the same resurrection power of Jesus (Philippians 3:10-11) is now ours to be more than conquerors in Him (Romans 8:37).
So, it’s a new year – twice over – this January. It’s time for renewal. Beyond the new clothes, where does renewal start?
It starts by reminding ourselves again of the mercy of God.
Make this your resolution as you start the new year, angmoh (western) or lunar: Every day, start by remembering and declaring the mercies of God in your life.
And then give Him your body, mind and ego as a lifelong, thanksgiving sacrifice.
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