The Beginning of Months

By Stephen Judd I see the new year as an opportunity for a new start. New beginnings are important. It's good to get off to a good start. I realize that it's not how we start that matters; it's how we finish. Yes, I know, "all's well that ends well." However, let's not minimize the importance of good beginnings. Have you ever wanted to start over? Maybe you started a project and messed up. The idea of a fresh  start is naturally attractive to all of us. That's what I like about the Wii, Nintendo, and PSP. If you don't get off to a good start, you can simply press the "restart" button. Wouldn't it be great if there was a "restart" button in this matter of life, in the real world...when we've made some mistakes, stumbled, disappointed ourselves and others? How we long for the gift of amnesty, but in most cases this is not possible. The continuity of life cannot be broken. And yet, in a redemptive sense, I am thankful for opportunities for new beginnings. The Exodus marked "the beginning of months" for the Israelites (Exodus 12:2). The Lord spoke unto Moses and Aaron and told them that the month Abib would the first month of the year for them. Actually, God gave Israel a new calendar. The whole calendar was rearranged to where this became the first month of the Jewish calendar. For 430 years, the new year had commenced with them in bondage, but Passover was to mark a new age in the history of Israel. According to the civil year, this occurred in the seventh month, but God said, "I'm going to give you a new start!" The meaning of the word Abib is "fresh young ears," e.g., barley. This was the time of barley harvest, during March and April. With this new calendar the Israelites were to receive a new identity as the favored people of the true God. After Israel was taken into captivity, the names of four of the 12 months were given Babylonian names, and April (Abib) was called Nisan, which means "early" or "start." For Israel, it was New Year's Day. It was the dawn of liberty from bondage, freedom from Pharaoh, and salvation from slavery and all it entailed. The blood of the lamb was to be their trust, the strong arm of Jehovah their might, and Canaan Land - their promise and hope! On this New Year's Day, we stand in the entrance foyer of a brand new year, as well as a new decade. We've been given a new calendar, a fresh gift from God. I like to think of the New Year as a blank sheet of paper in which we can fill in our dreams and plans. It's a clean slate...a freshly erased chalkboard. The problem is that we carry our old selves into the New Year. In spite of resolutions to do better, how can anything change unless we change? As we turn over a new calendar, we try to turn over a new leaf of resolutions. An unknown author penned put it so well:
"Oh, how these past leaves accuse us. We write on newly turned pages the duties left undone.  But how long is it until a little January gust blows the leaf back again. Then, all goes on pretty much as before."
MAKE IT A NEW YEAR! I leave you with seven keys that will help us truly make it a New Year...
  1. Forget about yesterday.
  2. Don't worry about tomorrow.
  3. Make today count!
  4. Help every person you can.
  5. Keep your heart pure.
  6. Renew your strength daily.
  7. Act on God's promises.