CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
New Year's Resolutions
By Denise M. Kohlmeyer
Last week, we talked about New Year's resolutions. If you decide that this is how the Lord is leading you, here is a simple how-to to get you started in the next two weeks before 2017 begins. Feel free to tweak these steps according to your personality and preferences. That's the beauty of this resolution! It's not a one-size-fits-all.
Pick a Passage
Usually a couple of weeks before the New Year hits, the Holy Spirit brings to mind a particular passage or verse that overwhelmingly resonates with me. It's one that I just can't seem to get off my mind and my heart. It might also resonate with what is going on in my life at the time.
Last year, for instance, the Spirit impressed upon me 1 Peter 3:11, "seek peace and pursue it." Why? It had been a particularly difficult year. There had been a lot of upheaval and by December my heart was crying out for peace. Just peace. Pure and simple. I wanted to forget the past year of turmoil and move forward into peace.
So, 2016 was a year that I sought and pursued peace with an abandon. And God abundantly blessed it with a peace that truly did surpass all understanding.
Research the References
Once a passage or verse is chosen, cross reference all of the verses in Scripture which pertain to that particular verse, word, topic or theme. You can use the internet or an exhaustive concordance.
This will take some time, but it is well worth the effort. You will be amazed at the breadth and depth of understanding and knowledge which comes from doing this.
Throughout the year, I also like to read books, articles/blogs and commentaries on the word/topic/theme that I've chosen for that year. There is a lot of wisdom and insight in reading what other godly authors have to say.
Journal the Journey
Every year, I buy a new notebook in which to chronicle my resolution journey. In this journal, I write out the theme verse for that year and all the cross references. I also journal my own thoughts, feelings and desires. This can be very cathartic and enlightening. And I love the fact that I can go back and re-read what the Lord has shown me over the years.
A journal is good, too, for jotting down authors' comments that resonate with me, key thoughts from books and commentaries, anything that helps to deepen my understanding and application of my theme verse.
I've also been known to draw illustrations to help me remember key concepts or ideas. For instance, when I was cross-referencing "mouth" for my 2010 resolution, I came across Psalm 141:3, "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips."
Since I love word pictures, I drew a pair of lips with a soldier standing guard in front of them, his gun drawn so as to keep any unwholesome words from slipping out. It was a cute but poignant visual for me.
Don't worry. You don't have to be an artist. The soldier that I drew was a scrawny stick-figure with a lop-sided bowl on his head, and the gun he's holding looks more like a sewing needle. ☹
But you get the idea: visuals can be just another helpful "tool" when learning God's Word. Try it sometime!
Prayer & Practice Make Us "Perfect"
It's not just enough to make a resolution. We have to practice it. Faith without works, James 2:14-26 says, is dead. Our faith must show in our lives. Changed lives! And this is the hard part, as we all know. Living out God's word is work. Hard work! But necessary and oh-so rewarding.
To that end, your resolution (and all resolutions, for that matter) must, must, must be supported and sustained by prayer. Otherwise, it's a worthless resolution.
• Pray that God will give you the courage and the strength to live out your resolution this year...and beyond.
• Pray that God will provide opportunities for you to "practice" your resolution. Then be faithful to do so!
• Pray that God will change you so dramatically in this area that in the next year you can look back and honestly say that you are indeed a different person because of this resolution.
• Pray that others will even see a difference in you and validate the transformation God is working in you.
• Pray that God will keep this resolution in the forefront of you mind all throughout the year and that you don't lose sight of the wonderful work He will do in your life through it.
• Pray that God will "perfect" you (teleios, "complete, fully grown, especially of the completeness of Christian character") through this resolution.
• Pray, ultimately, that your resolution will bring God the utmost glory and you the utmost good!
Many, many blessings in the New Year, my friends.
Image Credit: Aaron Burden; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Celebrating-Holidays | Christian-Life | Personal-Life
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Published on 12-26-16