Starting the Year off Right

consistently-read-gods-word

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Consistently reading God’s word is not mere duty. It will change your life!

Scriptures of the Day:

John 8:31-32
31 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you
continue in my word, you are truly my disciples,
32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you
free.”

Joshua 1:8

8 Don’t stop reading this book of the Law, but day and night
think of what it says, so you can be careful to do everything
written in it; then you will prosper and succeed.

Acts 20:32
32 “And now I entrust you to God and his care and to his
wonderful words that are able to build your faith and give you
all the inheritance of those who are set apart for himself.

Matthew 4:4

4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People need
more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of
God.’ ”

John 6:63

63 It is not the flesh that gives a person life. It is the
spirit that gives life. The words I told you are spirit, and so
they give life.

Romans 15:4

4 And the Scriptures were written to teach and encourage us by
giving us hope.

John 14:23-24
23 Jesus replied: ‘If anyone loves me he will cherish my word;
my Father will love him and we will come to him and make him
our abode.
24 He that does not love me neglects my words. Yet the word you
hear is not my own but that of the Father who sent me.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us
what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.
It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.

17 It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped
for every good thing God wants us to do.

Hebrews 4:12

12 For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper
than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost
thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.

 

New year’s resolutions are often broken before they are begun. But there is one resolution that we never want to break – the faithful, consistent reading of God’s word. Consistently reading God’s word is not mere duty. It will change your life!

Don’t believe the lie that it is too hard to read the Bible in a year. Take two or three years, if needed, but getting into God’s word is necessary for us to be able to live a godly Christian life.

I’ll keep it brief today, so we can all get into God’s word. mr-_smiley_face-svg

Here is a fantastic link for Bible Reading Plans. The 52-week plan is my favorite!

Preparations for the New Year: Planning in Humility

Photo Credits missionyear.org

Photo Credits
missionyear.org

James 4:13-17

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

Psalm 39:4-5

“O LORD, help me understand my mortality and the brevity of life! Let me realize how quickly my life will pass!  Look, you make my days short-lived, and my life span is nothing from your perspective. Surely all people, even those who seem secure, are nothing but vapor.” (Net Bible).

Proverbs 16:9

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” (NIV)

It has been a joy for me to go through the process of blogging about planning and aligning our hearts, minds, bodies to God’s will and evaluating through His lens.  The planning process is necessary and often neglected because it is not a once and done occupation.  I want to dare to dream and try to do things that I would normally limit myself on, but simultaneously surrender it all to God, delighting in the truth that His way is best.

There is a fine line between planning for temporary pleasure and planning that is divinely inspired.  By saying divinely inspired, I mean it is something God truly placed on our hearts, and not us manipulating to have it be a part of His plan for our own desires.  Sometimes it is not clear.  We plan and wonder if it is what we are supposed to be doing.  That’s ok – as long as our plans are submitted to God and we trust His will.

At the root of our plans our motivation might be difficult to discern, but it reveals the impetus behind the inspiration for our goals.  Pride, insecurity, fame, jealousy, popularity or any other carnal catalysts toward a goal will be burned up in the end.  But purifying our motives before God can confirm whether a goal really is worthwhile, after all, and have eternal rewards. Recognizing that we are just vessels doing His work, not ours is paramount.

Planning in this way leads to encouragement rather than discouragement; if a venture or pursuit fails, then I know either the LORD was not in it or that I need to go back to Him again.  Self is removed when I consider the whole purpose is doing His will and I lay it at his feet again, praying whether it is something I need to cease or whether it is an opportunity to grow in character and not give up.  If I look for outward signs only, including man’s praise rather than an inner peace of walking in His plan, then I can easily become confused and misled.  Being hyper-spiritual is also not a beneficial solution to discerning whether God is in our plans.

If our goal truly is God’s glory, though, then the results are completely up to the LORD.  Failure or success in goals is not what matters most. The success of a goal might even just be the character earned in the process.   We must just be faithful to seek Him daily and press on toward our goals in Christ. Ultimately, our time investment needs to be with eternity in mind and the recognition that everything we have comes from Him.  Everything we set out to do is only by His grace.  Everything is all about Him.

Here’s to planning a godly year in 2015!  Happy New Year’s Eve!!

Lord, our time is in Your hands.  Your will be done in every aspect of our lives!  To you alone be all glory, honor and praise for any accomplishments You allow.

Preparations for the New Year: Evaluation

Romans 12:3

“For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith.”

Each year typically most people have some form of a goal or resolution for the new year.  Sometimes we do not want to utter it out loud, lest we fail again.  But we all can benefit by looking over the past year and assessing what worked and what didn’t.  Even as tough as it might seem, it is actually quite liberating.  Come on in and let’s get started.

In the past few days I have explored the preparation of our mind, heart and bodies for God in the coming year.  Now to the practical application.  Knowledge gained is not as effective as knowledge applied.  Today’s blog is a lot more practical, but I pray beneficial, in your planning for the new year.

I came across a wonderful blog that is very beneficial for the “how” and “why” of successful planning – “6 Steps to Crush Your Goals in 2015” – found at: http://timemanagementninja.com/2014/12/6-steps-to-crush-your-goals-in-2015/?utm_content=buffereed4b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin.com&utm_campaign=buffer .  I worked through the steps the author suggested and then used an application called “Trello” to itemize, categorize, strategize and quantify my goals with due dates.  I also used Word to place the goals all on one page, answering the questions contained in the blog.  It was a time of investment of one to two hours and will require maintenance and consistency, in order to be effective.  Therein lies my challenge.  It is highly probable that I will not achieve all of the goals on my list, but that is not holding me back.  Planning means more will be achieved than not planning at all.  God bless you all in the new year!  May we achieve more than we dreamed possible all for Christ’s glory.

May God grant us wisdom and grace in planning and may we seek His will in all aspects of our lives!  Carpe Diem!

Preparations for the New Year Begin with the Heart

Photo Credits wau.org

Photo Credits
wau.org

Psalm 26:2

“Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.”

Matthew 6:21

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 

Proverbs 3:5
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  
Psalm 51:10
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
Psalm 73:26
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Psalm 37:4

“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” 

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As I begin to contemplate what goals the LORD would have me set in this coming year, there is not just the battle of the mind, but the battle of the heart.  What we think about matters to God.  What our heart longs for does, too.  Our hearts can be drawn to many worthwhile and unworthy passions.  What we desire, we will often succumb to, unless our minds are girded with the word of God and our flesh saturated with God’s perspective.

Although the mind and the heart have many similarities, when I refer to the heart, I am referring to the strong emotions which affect our will and thoughts.  Catching myself craving something that might not be in accordance with God’s will can be difficult to discern.  I confess that I struggle with disciplining my flesh when it comes to exercise and food.  My thoughts can be well intended regarding both of these important aspects of life, but my emotions, my heart, can deceive me.  I wake up excited to run on my treadmill (ok, maybe excited is a stretch, but motivated, nonetheless).  I overcome the mental block inhibiting me, then my heart comes in and tempts me with the Lazyboy recliner and a cup of joe.  I begin to think on it and I am ashamed to say that my heart usually defeats my mind when it comes to food and exercise.

The rationalization might be dressed in righteousness.  Time with God, ministering to my family or friends.  But physical training is of some value.  Around and around the battle goes.  So, how do we cultivate and foster a heart towards righteousness?  How do we crave what pleases God?  What we meditate on in the mind is paramount, but when our heart feeds our mind, we can call out to God to help us walk after the spirit and not the flesh.

Disciplining the mind and heart is not all drudgery, though.  One of my favorite verses is Psalm 37:4, which contains a precious promise of God granting us the desires of our heart.  What precedes this promise of God is our delight in Him.  Turning our heart toward craving the things of God instead of the things in this world is possible.  Christ being our joy is also far more rewarding than any other occupation or endeavor this world has to offer.

As we plan for the coming year, may we consider our heart and lay it bare before our Maker.  He knows what is best and what I desire must be checked by the Holy Spirit and submitted to my God, my King.  Retraining our heart to run after the things of God will feel unnatural at first.  That’s ok.  Practice makes perfect.  Despite our failures, there is great hope: God is our strength and our portion forever.  He really is all we need.

God’s Perspective on Time

2 Peter 2:8

“Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day.”

Ephesians 5:15-17

“Therefore be very careful how you live–not as unwise but as wise, taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the Lord’s will is.

We are always in a rush.  Deadlines loom large and there is never enough time – or is there?  Perhaps our discontentment with the prescribed number of hours per day comes from not trusting God to complete His purposes in our lives within the confines of the time He in His infinite wisdom, has given.  I confess that I have wished there were more than 24 hours in a day.  Foolishly spoken, I know.

God is eternal, from everlasting to everlasting, outside time.  We are in this capsule of time for a brief breath.  How important it is, then, to be aware of the need for our time to be used well.  If we understand what God’s will is, both given in His word and led individually by His Holy Spirit, then each day should be invested toward that will and not squandered on things that do not matter for eternity.  Our challenge is that this utopia of just doing what God has willed is quickly dismantled by constant interruptions and distractions.  Does anyone identify with me on this?

I wake up with good intentions; fix my husband breakfast if I am awake enough, then thank God for the day and dive into His word with a cup of coffee.  My littlest one usually peeks his head out of his room about this time. I give him an assignment to do and then back to God’s word.  Then an animal needs care, or the phone starts beeping.  I begin to contemplate my day and getting my children up for breakfast and ready for school.  Phew!  Although I do not have near her number of children, I can identify with Susanna Wesley, mother of nineteen children, who hid underneath her apron to have her solitude and time with God. In this day when everything is moving faster, we do not have to have nineteen children to have the same challenge of having consistent time with God.

A new year is coming and it is always daunting as I ponder whether or not I should make new year’s resolutions and what they should be.  As we approach a new year, may we not take it for granted and ask God to help us to use the time wisely which we are given.  We do not know how much time we will be given, but we can offer it back to Him and ask Him how we should use it.  May His perspective be ours – each moment an opportunity to know Him more and bring glory to His Name.