The beginning of another year is when many make a decision to do something different, something better. It is a day to begin again. Do you have some ideas for yourself along those lines? Will this year be different than last year? For me the difference will be in my commitment.
I often tell God, tell myself, that I want to be closer to Him. I want to know Him more. But if I do not make any changes to go with that desire â€“ the words are empty and will not produce any fruit. It takes a plan and actions that are moving in that plan to make it more than a good idea.
Inquire of God. Deciding to ask the Holy Spirit and move with His leading is a good idea â€“ but it cannot stop with just that. I believe that the Holy Spirit has no problem sharing a plan and offering some good ideas while still maintaining His â€œrepâ€ for being spontaneous. Take time to ask God what He wants me to do this year; how God wants to grow our relationship. And then write it down on a piece of paper or your tablet where you keep your eBible, where it is easily accessible.
Time. In this world we have a finite amount of time. If I am going to put some time in reading or praying with God then something else will be given up. It’s a good thing to recognize that and realize there will be less TV or whatever leisure activity or even sleep. I submit that God will more than repay me in feeling more rested or energized than I was when I was sleeping or watching TV instead of spending time with Him.
Make a change. Just like weight loss or getting healthy requires making a change in my eating or exercise habits, so will improving my spiritual health require a change in my life. If I am going to begin a Bible study then I am going to get with a group where I have some accountability. Maybe I am going to join a group that actually requires some outside reading on my part instead of just being â€œfedâ€ by whatever the teacher says is true. One the best nights, a turning point in my life with Jesus, was when I was sitting listening to a learned man of God of whom I respected and loved his teaching and I turned to the Scripture he cited as the basis of his point and I questioned whether that Scripture meant what he said. So I made a note and later that night I went back to that and read the passage again and thought and prayed about it â€“ nope, that is not what that passages was saying. The man’s point was good but that particular Scripture was taken out of context. I still love to listen to that man teach â€“ but like any great baseball pitcher â€“ you won’t always throw strikes! And it is a good thing to learn and think for myself with the Holy Spirit.
Evaluate and share. And that is part of evaluating and sharing the growth that Jesus brings into my life. This time next year, I should see the maturity that has come into my relationship with God. A relationship cannot be stagnant for it is a living thing. No growth = dying or dead. A sure sign of growth in my relationship with Jesus is the fruit (Galations 6:22) that should be apparent in my life, not just for blessing my life but for the outpouring into the lives of others. This outpouring should become as spontaneous as breathing and a beating heart is to my physical body.
Christ suffered here on earth. Now you must be ready to suffer as he did, because suffering shows that you have stopped sinning. It means you have turned from your own desires and want to obey God for the rest of your life. You have already lived long enough like people who donâ€™t know God. You were immoral and followed your evil desires. You went around drinking and partying and carrying on. In fact, you even worshiped disgusting idols. Now your former friends wonder why you have stopped running around with them, and they curse you for it. But they will have to answer to God, who judges the living and the dead. The good news has even been preached to the dead, so that after they have been judged for what they have done in this life, their spirits will live with God.
Everything will soon come to an end. So be serious and be sensible enough to pray.
Most important of all, you must sincerely love each other, because love wipes away many sins.Â Welcome people into your home and donâ€™t grumble about it.
Each of you has been blessed with one of Godâ€™s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well. If you have the gift of speaking, preach Godâ€™s message. If you have the gift of helping others, do it with the strength that God supplies. Everything should be done in a way that will bring honor to God because of Jesus Christ, who is glorious and powerful forever. Amen. Â Â 1 Peter 4:1-11 (CEV)
Cry of My Heart written and sung by Terry Butler