How are you celebrating the New Year? I started 2017 pulling party poppers outside the A+E department I was working in at the time and I’m definitely planning to bring in the New Year a bit differently this year. How we celebrate the New Year differs year on year but one thing that tends to be a constant is the opportunity it affords us to reflect on the year that is finishing. For some, 2017 will be a year they look back on fondly but for others it will be a year that they can’t wait to forget about.

What changes has 2017 brought to your life? Perhaps this year has had some big changes – starting university, graduating, trying to find your feet in employment. Or maybe it has been a year were there haven’t been too many changes.

I wonder though, has there been a change in your walk with God? Has 2017 been a year were you have matured spiritually? Are the fruits of the spirit more evidenced in your life today than they were a year ago? Are you more patient, more joyful, more peaceful, more tolerant, more kind, more gentle? Has your prayer life improved? Have you been reading your Bible and spending time with God regularly? Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:22–24 to “put off your old self…to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness”. We should be putting on the new self and becoming more like Jesus.

If you can answer yes then be encouraged at the changes you see, but don’t sit back on your laurels. Keep going this year in your walk with God, your reliance on Him and becoming more like Him!

If the opposite is true and you can’t see that much of a change in your walk with God or that Quiet Times have slipped by the wayside, it can be tempting to despair. It’s good to reflect on the past but don’t let it define you. There may be one particular aspect of your character that you are aware of that needs changing or perhaps you need to start praying again. Why don’t you start afresh and make it your prayer and goal to see a change in that this year? Ask God for help you to change.

As we reflect back on the changes that 2017 have brought it is good to remember the One who does not change. Looking ahead to the unknowns of 2018 we can know that the promises God has made to us in the Bible are as true and constant today as they were on the day they were written. God has promised “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b, NIV). We can hold on to this promise as we endeavour with God’s help to become more like Him this year.