It happens every year. You know, setting or rejecting those New Year’s Resolutions. No matter what end of the spectrum you fall on, I want to simply suggest and provide a few tools for you to grow spiritually. Is not that the goal? To desire to look and be more like Jesus by growing in His grace and knowledge.
1.) Bible Reading Plans
How can you know God if you don’t read His word? Here are some plans:
- This is probably the most comprehensive option to choose a Bible Reading Plan.
- Can’t go wrong here for many of you with smartphones, tablets, or computer access.
- Here is a bit of personal advice…don’t bite off more than you can chew. As you’ll note on the Ligonier website, sometimes it’s most profitable to choose a BOOK in the Bible to read through multiple times throughout a year. Maybe it’s the Gospels. Whatever, you could “customize” a plan that will lead to more confidence and success.
2. Set yourself up for success
- You have heard me say that if you leave your Bible out in the car on a 25 degree morning…you probably won’t go out to grab it as you roll out of a comfy, warm bed. That said, make your Bible, prayer list, or agenda one of the first things you see in the morning…or whenever you plan to exercise the spiritual discipline of Bible reading, prayer, etc. Set it where you can access it and make it evident.
3. One word
- There has been a trend arise in the past several years on finding ONE WORD for the year and maximizing it throughout all your life. So, for example, if your word for the year is FINISH–everything you place your hands to in this year you will FINISH. It will be your focus for the year. I read a book by Jon Gordon (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1118809424/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1118809424&linkCode=as2&tag=wwwqmginccom-20) that expands on this. It’s a short book–good read! Get a word–and LIVE IT!
4. Increase your time
- If you have spent an average of 10 minutes in prayer throughout the past several months/year of your life…spend 15 minutes, 20 minutes this next year. After all, the call for Christians is to REMAIN in Christ (John 15). Jesus told us, “Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4, emphasis mine) You want to bear fruit? Spend time with Jesus Christ. Our fruitfulness will be proportionate to our time, and walk in, the vine (Jesus–John 15:1).
- Perhaps you have desired to commit to time in Sunday school, more time in Sunday school, or coming to church services. Be resolute to commit more time.
- You’ll fail. I know…that’s not very nice, but it’s life. Okay, maybe I should say your plans and resolutions will fail you. Don’t put stock in what you can do…but stock in what GOD CAN DO. Remember, where sin is, grace is more. I love that! Paul told the church at Rome, “But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied ever more” (Romans 6:20b, emphasis mine). Look, life is going to happen in 2019. You’re life will experience some up’s and down’s. You’re agenda is going to change. Some of you will move. Some of you will have children. Some of you will lose a loved one. Some of you will oversleep. Some of you will have type B flu–2 times! I list all of these to say–some of the plans and “resolutions” you make will get lost in the confusion of life. Here’s what you do though–you realize that God is unchangeable. And you GET BACK IN THE GAME! Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Malachi 3:6a- “Because I, the Lord, have not changed…” Give yourself a break. God desires faithfulness. Remember Hosea 6:6- “For I desire faithful love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Pick up where you left off…you know, after that flu, oversleeping, and/or just plan lack of desire. God is not holding you hostage by YOUR plans. Thankfully, He’s got it all worked out and He is for you. Every day in 2019. Rest in Him and trust Him. Love Him well. “A person’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
I pray God’s best for you in 2019. There are many other “tools” and suggestions to a new year, but these are a few of mine, unfiltered. May God’s glory resound through your lives unto all the nations!