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It's the end of another year; where did it go? A "New Beginning", a time for a fresh start! We have record of many people in the Bible who had a chance to make a fresh start. Some did well but others, not so well. I would like for us to examine a few of these people.

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II SAMUEL 12:19 "But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. 20 Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat. 21 Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. 22 And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. 24 And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him."

We all know the story of how David saw Bathsheba bathing and lusted after her, had her brought to him and got her pregnant. He then had her husband, Uriah, put in the front line of battle and left to be killed by the enemy, causing him to be indirectly guilty of murder. I have used this scripture in devotions before but today I want us to consider how, even though God took David's son, he allowed David to start over. David was forgiven and allowed to have more children. What good would it have done David to continue fasting, praying and crying when his son had already died? He could not bring his child back yet he had to go on living. No matter your trials or heartaches, no matter what kind of mess you have made of your life, there comes a time when you must get up, dry your tears and begin again.

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LUKE 19:1 "And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. 4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. 8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham."

Zacchaeus was a publican or, "A collector of public taxes or tolls in the ancient Roman Empire." He was probably dishonest and despised by others. When he met Jesus, however, he wanted to change! (Jesus has that effect on people!) It doesn't matter what you were before, you can always change. Even if you think it is too late, Jesus can help you turn your life around; all you have to do is ask Him!

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ACTS 9:3 "And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. 10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:"

Paul (or "Saul" as he was first known) had persecuted many Christians, had them imprisioned and even witnessed the death of Steven. After he met Jesus, though, he saw the light! He changed completely. He was given a second chance to begin again. Here was the worst enemy of the Christians. An enemy of God. Yet God saw in him what no mortal person could. He had a zeal for God but it was misguided. God decided to use Paul to witness to the Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel. He continued with his zeal for God but with a fresh start he was now spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ!

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EXODUS 16:2 "And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: 3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger."

There is one more example of fresh starts in the Bible I would like for us to consider. The nation of Israel was in bondage in Egypt under cruel task masters. They were made to work but not paid a wage. Their condition was much the same as a prison camp. Yet, when God delivered them from this bondage and set them free to begin again, they complained and wished to be back in Egypt at the first sign of difficulty. God has not promised us a trouble free life. He will allow us to start over as many times as He needs to for us to get it right but He will not remove all opposition from our lives. Even starting fresh in the New Year does not mean we won't have any problems next year. It is how we deal with these problems that will give us character and strength. If we sit down in defeat and murmur and complain because everything is not a bed of roses, then we have failed ourselves as well as God. We can begin again and again, but until we start facing our problems head on and doing something about the areas of our lives we wish to change, our "New Beginnings" will not bring about any appreciable change in our lives!

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[GOD BLESS]

I hope each one of you have a terrific year and are able to make some real changes for the better in your lives this year. God is willing; all you have to do is lean on Him and not give up on yourself!

MEME

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