Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Be Better...For Real This Time

So here we are again. The end of December has arrived and a new year is approaching fast. I can hear it all already…. “I’m going to stop smoking” “I’m losing 30 pounds” “I’ll handle my money better this year” “I’m working out three times every day!” “I’m going to get back in church”… and the list goes on and on. New Year’s resolutions. Empty promises to one’s self that fade away by March at the latest. New Year’s resolutions sound good, but there is one big problem with them...

New Year’s resolutions suck!!!

Why? Well I’m so glad you asked. First off there is nothing magical about the new year that will “get you going” so to speak. January 1 is just another day. Second, resolutions are usually promises that we make to ourselves and try to maintain ourselves, which is impossible because we are too weak AND we don’t know what we need. Every aspect of our lives and every plan should be led by God through the power of the Holy Spirit. So instead of making resolutions we should endeavor to be our best all year-round in Christ. With that the following are some tips on how to make life more fruitful and therefore more effective in God’s work (the only work that will last for all eternity!).

Get right with God- At first my initial point was going to be “Plan for your future,” but then the Holy Spirit brought to mind Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV):
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy
This familiar verse tells us that if we just follow God and live the life that He wants us to live, then God will show us the way. He will order our steps. But the “in all thy ways acknowledge him” part is where it gets rough. Before you take more time to consider what the future holds for you ask yourself this “Am I right with God now?” If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ you must receive immediately! This comes only through recognizing that in God’s sight you are a sinner and that His Son, Jesus, died on the cross to pay the penalty for you. Until you truly believe and accept that you can never be right with God (John 14:6). For you who are already saved, check yourself. Search and examine yourself to see if there is anything outstanding in your life that does not please God (and don’t try to fool yourself because God knows everything). Whatever you identify that needs to be removed, confess it to God and ask for His forgiveness. The next step is absolutely pointless without doing this one first.

Plan for the future- Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says:

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy
is he.

Plain and simple, without a vision you can not be successful. Without a vision there is no life. To get somewhere in life you must know where you are going. After getting right and staying right with God, He will give you a vision, if not several. The vision may seem small at first, but that is only because you can’t handle the rest yet. Pray daily and ask God to reveal what it is that He has for your life. He has great plans for all of our lives, but it is up to us to go through with them. So when you know that He has something for you to do, go for it. If the vision seems far away or too lofty then ask yourself “what can I do now?” or “where can I start?” Start making smaller goals to reach the higher goal. Implement step-by-step plans to make your God given visions and dreams a reality. Examples:

*If you know you want to buy a car you would first figure out what kind or type you want. Then you would come up with a savings plan to get your money together.

*If you want to be more financially responsible, ask God for wisdom and guidance. Then take time to make a budget and plan for your expenses.

*Say, if you want to make a career or academic move. You would need to update your resume, apply for open positions, apply for school, or prepare for school placement tests.

*If you really wanted to improve your relationship with God you need to examine yourself first. Then make a plan or schedule for your prayer time, meditation, and bible study.

Figure out what God has for you, and then go for it. Otherwise you are just wondering through life aimlessly. It is just like walking through a pitch black room you have never been in before. You need ample light and the correct guidance or else you will keep stumbling and falling with no direction. And thus, continue to live in pain.

Love, Love, and More Love!- This is the key. In order to effectively and truly improve your life you must experience God’s love. This godly love is known as the bond of perfectness (Colossians ch.3). 1 Corinthians chapter 13 says this love is greater than faith and hope. We are commanded to love God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. We are also commanded to love others in the same manner that we love ourselves (Matthew ch.22). How can we do this? The world is such a crazy place and life is so stressful! However with God all things are possible. In the midst everything happening around you God’s love can wrap you up and intertwine with your soul. This love will comfort you on the inside like nothing else can. Because God is all powerful and all knowing He can take care of you like no one else can. He will give you peace and joy beyond human comprehension, even during life’s most challenging times. Oh there will be tough times, but He will give what you need to make it through IF you trust Him.

The only way to grow deeper in love with somebody is to get to know them, to spend time with them. With God this is done through Bible study, prayer, and meditation. Jesus is the living Word (John ch.1) so when we study the Word we learn more about Jesus, how God relates to man, and the plan God has for our lives/humanity. Prayer is talking to God, but also listening. We must spend time talking to our Lord and listening to see what He has for us. Meditation is essentially taking time to think on God’s Word. So when you read some scripture don’t just say, “Oh,that was nice” then close your Bible and move on, but take time to think about the passage of scripture you read. What was it really saying? How does it apply to you?

Proverbs 20:24 (NIV) says:

A person’s steps are directed by the LORD.
How then can anyone understand
their own way?

There it is clear, straight, and simple. God has the plan for your life and you can not understand your life’s plans alone. You are not made to understand by yourself. You need to tap into God’s love and wisdom by faith. So drop the empty promises and trust God for everything!

Reflection Points and Questions
  1. Are you right with God?
  2. What things in your life may be separating you from God?
  3. Do you seek your own will in life, or God's will for you?
  4. Has anything you have tried on your own ever really worked?

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