“Let love be your highest goal!” (1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT)
With the new year often comes thoughts of “New Year’s Resolutions.” The work-out centers will be full for a few weeks, the frig will be stocked with healthy choices that will end up being given away or thrown out. Yes, you guessed it. I’m not much for resolutions; however, there are always areas of our lives that need improvement. So, how do we address those much-needed changes in our lives?
Begin by thinking categorically. What does that mean? Look at the different areas of your life that need to be addressed, then prioritize and build a workable plan. Over the next few days, I will offer some suggestions.
MY SPIRITUAL LIFE
If you haven’t yet committed your life to the Lord Jesus, make that a priority. Jesus lived, died, and rose again to provide you, not only a way to heaven, but an opportunity to understand what real life is and how it should be lived. Following Jesus begins with your response to His invitation to “Come to ME.” He’s not inviting you to a religion, He’s inviting you into a relationship with the living God. Acknowledge that you’ve sinned and need His forgiveness. Invite Him to cleanse you and make you whole by filling you with His Holy Spirit. Ask Him to guide you to a Bible-teaching, loving, and accepting group of His followers who will walk with you in your new faith. You’ll need to be baptized, which is an outward, visible symbol of what has happened in you in a spiritual way. Baptism illustrates our death to ourselves and our old way of life, and our rising to new life in Christ Jesus. If you have no one else who can walk with you in your new faith, write me at email@example.com and I will guide you as best I can. You can begin by following the steps below.
For those who are following Christ, where are you weak? Set realistic, attainable goals related to areas that will help you grow in the basic disciplines of a Christ-focused life. The basic disciplines are reading and studying the Bible (see below), prayer, which is simply speaking with God. God speaks to us primarily through the Bible, but we speak to Him through prayer. Speak to Him regarding strength to live for Him; making godly decisions; how to be pure in thought and life; attending and serving in a church that is Bible-centered and Christ-honoring in their focus; ways to serve and honor Him through volunteering at church or through local service organizations that are helpful to others. There are other areas below from which you can choose. You can’t do everything at once, so prioritize based on where your greatest areas of weakness are.
For example: spending time reading and studying the Bible every day. If you haven’t developed a daily strategy, begin with setting aside 15 minutes a day. Read one chapter, beginning in the Gospel of John. Read through John, then go back to Matthew (the first book in the New Testament) and read straight through the New Testament, including reading John again. It will be helpful to have a pen and paper close by to make note of things you don’t understand, words that aren’t clear, ideas that are confusing, or anything you DO understand that you want to apply to your life. Then speak with the Lord about what He’s teaching you, as well as throughout your day with what I refer to as “sentence prayers.” As your day unfolds, be grateful for the things that are good (“Thank you, Lord, for this delicious meal; this beautiful day; Your Spirit with me, etc.”) and share with Him the things that are not so good (“Lord, give me strength to change my negative attitude; Please enable me to stop worrying, etc.”). Speak with Him as you would your best friend because that’s exactly what He is, but a LOT more powerful.
That’s a start. Let’s pick it up with our other relationships tomorrow.
Blessings, Ed 😊