Last year is in the books. It’s done and behind us. It was a year of fear. Last year, people started eating Tide Pods! And I found myself asking this question a lot last year: “What If?” The way I asked that question was fearful. Like, “What If things don’t turn as I want? What if everything falls apart or the bottom falls out? What if this doesn’t work? What if something happens to my kids? Or to my marriage? Or to my job? Or the economy? Or my health?

There are so many What If’s in life, and they can really scare us and even paralyze us. And last year might have been a hard year for you too. But it is over and now we have a whole fresh calendar year in front of us. It started yesterday. And I have two words for the year ahead: “What If?” But this year, I want to say “What if?” with a whole new inflection! I want to make “What If?” a question of faith and adventure!

What If This Is the Year of a Fresh Start?

The early church in Acts started in Acts 2, but by Acts 4, they already had a new start and they had grown in those 2 chapters from 3000 people in Acts 2 at the start to now, the had more like 15,000 people!!! That’s explosive growth! And that is possible for us too! How is it possible? Look at:

The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand. Acts 4:1-4

The early church was going through a dangerous battle. It was dangerous because it was so early in the life of the church, and they didn’t seem to have whole lot of resources, or much of a foundation developed. They were a scrappy rogue bunch of believers. But that just made them more bold and even more effective! We can’t keep quiet and we can’t stand still!

The authorities didn’t mind if they met, and fellowshipped, and studied the Bible, and sang songs, and gave money. That wasn’t the problem. Do you know what problem they had and what they were supposed to stop doing? Telling other people and reaching out. And that was the one thing they weren’t willing to do. Because that was their mission!

Sometimes you’ll hear a church or group say, “You know, I don’t think we’re ready to reach out yet. We need to spend some time going deeper, and then we’ll be ready to go wider.” It sounds very spiritual, even makes sense, but it doesn’t work that way. You know what happens to groups that do that? They not only never get around to reaching out, but they get so ingrown and self-absorbed that they start dying.

What If You Had a Fresh Start this year?

This coming year could be the year you stop looking back at the past and look up to Jesus.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:2

There are going to be personal challenges in the year ahead, just like there were last year. But what if this year, we keep looking to Jesus, and don’t take our eyes off of Him? He had the hardest road of all, but He trusted in God’s promise to carry Him through it.

What If your prayers are answered this is the year?

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. Acts 4:31

There is so much possibility in a new year! And when you pray, you are inviting God into those possibilities! Maybe this will be the year your children get right with God; the year your spouse comes to Jesus; the year your negative attitude becomes positive, (notice I didn’t say the year your situation changes, but the year you change the way you see your situation!); the year you get out of debt; the year you are healthier in your body or in your marriage!

What If your church goes to the next level this year?

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 3that there were no needy persons among them. Acts 4:32-34

All the early church had to do to experience peace and no persecution was to say, “I think 3000 people is enough. We don’t need to grow anymore!” But they refused to do that! And so do we!

What If the church today looked and acted more like that church? Being united around our purpose? Being generous? Being filled with so much power as we are more bold than ever before? And seeing thousands of people step over the line of faith to give their lives to Jesus? That’s what I want to see this year!

This is the year that we are going to take personal responsibility for the spiritual temperature of the world around us!