The Lord has given us another year,
Though some have gone and are no longer here.
The blessings have been flowing;
Our gratitude is showing,
Because our Savior promised to be near.
A new year is upon us once again.
The world around is still is filled with sin,
So it should be our Mission
To fulfill the Great Commission,
As we wait for Jesus Christ to come again.
I beg you now to make a resolution
To get busy and be part of the solution.
Tell someone that Jesus died,
His salvation to provide.
Trust in Jesus; not in foolish evolution.
In James 4:13-15, we read:
“13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
We are not guaranteed tomorrow. In fact, we are not guaranteed that we’ll live through the night! We need to be very careful that we include the Lord in all of our plans AND that we realize that we’ll only do what He allows us to do. We ought to say, “The Lord willing, I’ll do this or that.” But, with that background, and if the Lord allows us, we ought to set some goals of things to be accomplished this year.
1. Read your Bible daily. In Psalm 119:9-11, we read:
“9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
God’s Word can feed your soul, but only if you allow it to. I realize that reading is not easy for some of you. You might do like me wife does. She has the entire Bible on CD and listens to it in the car. Some people like to listen to it while they look at their Bibles, because they can hear it while they read. I imagine that most of you already read your Bible daily, but the only way that should change is if you are able to read more than you have before.
2. Study the Bible regularly. Find the meaning of certain words; find the answer to a question; find Scriptures that tell the same story or confirm the same truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 exorts us:
“15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The fact is that, if you talk about the Bible very much, you will want to search the Scriptures to make sure you understand certain subjects. You may have people asking questions about what the Bible says about a certain subject. 1 Peter 3:15
“15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear…”
3. Pray every day. Do you have a prayer list? Are there people for whom you pray every day? Do you ever pray for the people on the church Prayer List? Do you ever pray for the Missionaries of the Week? Are you a Prayer Partner with any of our Missionaries? Do you know anyone who is not saved? Do you have loved ones who are not right with God? How about your Pastor? Luke 18:1 says:
“1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint…”
In Matthew 6, we are taught, three things that we are to do regularly. Three times in three verses, we read the same words.
“5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”
Jesus doesn’t say, “If you pray”; rather He says, “when you pray”. We should pray every day. In this same passage, we note that we shoul give generously and regularly. Matthew 6:1-4 says:
“1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”
Let me give you a couple of thoughts about giving.
Christian giving to the local church should begin with a tithe, or 10%. God gives us the ability to earn everything we have; at least 10% of it should be returned to him. I’d be glad to discuss that with you at another time, but, trust me, you can’t out give God. But, here’s another idea;
4. Do Random Acts of Kindness whereby you give someone something for “no good reason”. It might be money; it might be a meal; it might be something you learned that they needed. Then, igve away something every week. Do you ever think you need to de-clutter your life? Too many purses, ladies? Give one away! Too many shirts, men? Give one away. You will be surprised at how much most of us have that we don’t need. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) So, Give generously and regularly.
5. Fast occasionally. Here is the third thing Jesus mentioned in Matthew 6:16-18:
“16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”
Different people can do shorter or longer fasts, but these are to be Spiritual fasts, when you take the time you would normally be eating and spend that time praying. Now, unless you are unable to eat because of a health issue, you will need to set a time or make a resolution about something like this.
6. Be thankful. Colossians 3:15 states:
“15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”
Every day, we should find someone to thank and something for which to be thankful. Once again, you might be surprised at how many opportunities you have to say “thank you”!
7. Choose to be Joyful. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says: “16 Rejoice evermore.” In Philippians 4:4 we read: “4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”
I believe that our attitude is a choice. We can choose to rejoice or we can choose to be grumpy! If you “feel” grumpy, just start acting sweet and joyful and your attitude will change! In Proverbs 16:3 “3 Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.”
I get a little tired of people saying that they lose their tempers because they are Irish or they display their anger because they are Italian. No, you have a bad attitude because you allow yourself to have a bad attitude! Choose to be joyful.
8. Eat Healthier. Philippians 4:5 “5 Let your moderation be known unto all men.” This will mean different things to different people. To some, it might mean “go vegan” or something. Smaller portions, healthier portions… I know this is not popular preaching but the Bible teaches us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states:
“19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Is this the right time to mention exercise?
9. Exercise regularly. I’m not suggesting that you spend all kinds of money on exercise equipment, exercise shoes, exercise classes, and become obsessed with your physical appearance. I am saying that this is the only body we have and we are to use it in a way that pleases the Lord. It’s awfully hard to visit others when you are the one who is sick. 1 Timothy 4:8 teaches that “8…bodily exercise profiteth little…” but, it DOES offer some profit. AND, in case you are wondering, it doesn’t cost much to walk around the neighborhood or up and down the steps in your home.
10. Attend every church service possible. I believe God has something for you at every service. When you miss, you might miss that very thought or verse or concept that you need to take the next step in your Christian growth. The local church is a body and, when the body gets together, it needs every part to function properly. Hebrews 10:25 “25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
11. Stop doing something that’s not important. If your doctor told you that you only had one month to live, how would that change your life? Would you skip a couple of unimportant events? Would you turn the TV off and talk to people? Would you play around on Facebook quite so much? Would you find more time to spend with your family and your church family than normal? The fact is that most of us spend some time in unnecessary activities that simply are not important. Why don’t you just stop some of them?
12. Hand out a tract every day…or every week. Look for opportunities; watch for Divine Appointments. Be prepared. Be prepared and expect God to give you opportunities to distribute tracts. BUT, don’t stop there. Be prepared to tell someone how to be saved!
13. Make a new friend. It might be at church or at work or in the neighborhood. Don’t wait for someone to become your friend; you take the initiative. How do we make friends? The Bible has the answer. Proverbs 18:24 states: “24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
You won’t make friends very quickly if you always wait for them to make the first move. Ask about them; talk about their interests; find out about their likes and dislikes; don’t be too quick to talk about yourself. How’s that for a challenge for the New Year? Make a new friend.
14. Listen more; speak less. God gave us two ears and one mouth, I think, to help us understand that we need to become good listeners. Proverbs 17:27-28 states:
“27 He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”
Many people develop a habit of trying to think of the next thing to say while the other person is speaking. Not only is that rude, it will also keep you from actually hearing what the other person is saying. And then,
15. Be Content. Stop looking at what someone else has. Be thankful for what you have been given. If you want to compare, think of those in other countries who have almost nothing. What size is the TV in the hut in the village in Papua New Guinea? What size is the bedroom in the typical house in Kenya? Does the little barred-in house in Costa Rica have granite countertops? Do the refugees in Syria have stainless steel appliances? Does the child in Cuba have the latest “i-thingy”? 1 Timothy 6:6-8 states:
“6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”