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Grace Notes: The New Year
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Happy New Year! As you're reading this, chances are the streamers of celebration are still on the ground, the decorations still up, and the resolutions still resolute. New Year's Day. It's a great day, isn't it? It's a day of hope and confidence, a day of optimism and potential. It's a great day. All those promises you made last night to change your life for the better are still within the realm of possibility.

But let's be real. Sure there's a lot of potential with this fresh start, but that means there's also potential for disaster. How likely will it be that this optimism lasts more than a couple weeks? And those resolutions? You know the gym will be packed the next few days, but by the time February rolls around... not so much.

Looking at our track record and the things fighting against us, the likelihood of failure is pretty high. And when we figure our sinful nature into the mix - the odds become impossible. On our own, there is no way we could ever hope for a "happy" new year. Thank God that we he hasn't left us on our own.

I want to start your year off with a reminder of what God did to change your failure to success. He sent Jesus. Sins forgiven, perfection attained, your future becomes suddenly bright. Through Christ, you have the promise, the certainty of heaven. Talk about a Happy New Year. This is a Happy New Life.

And our reading from Proverbs today tells us how we can live it to the fullest: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6).

We don't need to lean on our successes (or failures). God has already done it all. We don't even need to understand everything that is going on. God sees the big picture. He painted us into it... with him... forever. When we realize that and live like that, look at what he says. "He will make your paths straight." He will make it work out for you in ways you wouldn't even have imagined going in.

Think about our church - Abiding Grace. As we start the New Year, we're geared up for building our first building for God's glory to be done by this summer. Relying on our skills and abilities that would not happen, but trusting in the Lord, he'll accomplish something even greater than we could have planned.

Even where we're worshipping now teaches us the same thing. Finding out about the foreclosure on the building we had been renting at the end of last year could have been pretty stressful, but trusting in the Lord, we didn't have to worry. Now, beginning this Sunday, we get to gather for worship in a bigger room with more room for God to bless us with even more of you coming to hear the truth and praise his name. If you're curious - that new location is West Newton Elementary School on Brown Bridge Road. Come on out and start the New Year off right - trusting in the Lord with all your heart. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at