I was raised on the tradition of eating cabbage and black eyed peas on New Year’s Day. My Facebook feed is filled every year with photos from all of my friends who also partake in this tradition. The black eyed peas are meant to bring you good luck and prosperity while the cabbage is supposed to bring you wealth. Everyone is looking for something to bring them a better year than the year before and more success. I can personally tell you it doesn’t come from following this tradition.
One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible actually talks about how to be prosperous and successful. The recipe is simple, but hard for us to follow for some reason. It’s found in Joshua 1:8. It says, “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do (NLT).” This was God speaking to Joshua as he was about to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. He was telling him all he needed to do to be prosperous and successful.
The first thing God said in this recipe was to study scripture continually. If you ever went to school, you know that studying is hard work. I remember reading the chapters over and over, looking over notes and writing things down on flash cards to help me remember things. If I wanted to be successful on the test, I had to put in the work ahead of time. If you want to be successful in life, you are going to have to put in some work on the front end. It will not just happen. It takes time and discipline. It also means you have to have an understanding of the material God provided to help you live.
The next part of this recipe is to meditate on scripture day and night. God doesn’t want us to check off a box each day by reading a chapter or two. He wants us to read it and then to think about it both day and night. He wants us to think through how we can apply His word to our lives and how we can out it into action. He wants us to know what He said so that when the time comes, we’ll obey what He says instead of what the world says. He doesn’t want us fooled by trick questions, so He encourages us to know the material inside and out.
Obedience is probably the hardest part of this recipe. It’s the secret ingredient to prosperity and success though. When you look at everything God requires of us, it all boils down to obedience. We have to choose our will or His. If we substitute our will into the recipe, it won’t come out right. Only through obedience does the recipe work. If we can learn how to be obedient to His will we will find success in all we do. The only way to be obedient is to follow the first two steps. We have to know what God says first and then understand it. Success comes from reading God’s word, meditating on it and obeying it not from eating cabbage or black eyed peas. I pray you find much success and prosperity this year.
Today, I offer a prayer for you to pray to bring in the new year.
Thank you for 2013 and all the things that you showed me through it. Thank you for the victories and answers to prayers that you gave. Help me to continue to learn from the defeats I faced and the changes that you made in my life. I may never fully understand why things happened this year that weren’t part of my plan, but were a part of yours. Even when I don’t understand, help me to trust you still. Bring healing to the pain I’ve endured and turn my mourning into joy. My life is in your hands and everything I have is yours.
In 2014, I ask that you guide me in everything I do. Help me to walk in your paths and to find the doors that you’ve opened for me. Give me the courage to walk through them even when I can’t see what’s on the other side. You’ve called me to live by faith and that means that I won’t always know what the next step is. I just have to trust you and your timing. I ask that in my weakness you will be my strength. In my blindness, you will be my sight. In my shortcomings, you will be my grace.
Teach me to show your love more proactively than I ever have in this new year. Help me to not respond in hate to the things the world throws at me that I don’t like. I want to be your light in this dark place. I want to build bridges that the lost can walk across rather than to dig ditches that keep them away. Help me to react out of love instead of hate or fear. Teach me to reach out to the lost the way you did. I want to honor you with my life this year more than in any other year of my life so far.
Open my eyes to see those whom you called “the least of these”. Let me be your hands and feet in their lives. Give me the strength to share your love through my actions whenever you bring them into my path. Provide the funds that it will take to travel to other parts of the world so I can share your love with those whom the world has abandoned. Give me a heart that loves the unlovable, hands that do your will, a heart that beats in tune with yours, feet that will carry the Gospel, eyes to see others the way you do and a mouth that speaks your words.
I commit 2014 to you. May this year bring new beginnings where previous years have looked like dead ends. Speak life into the dead areas of my life. Bring people into my life that will help me accomplish all that you want me to. Place me in people’s lives that need my help to accomplish the plans you have for them. Expand my territory so that I can influence more for your kingdom. Open up the windows of Heaven and pour out blessings in my life so I can be a blessing in the lives of others. Use me in whatever capacity you see fit so that your name is glorified.
Thank you for all you will do this year. In your name I pray. Amen.
Can you believe this year is over? I like to think of each year as a chapter in my life closing. It gives me the opportunity to find closure for the things I want to put in my past and keep there. They’re still a part of my over all story and the development of my character, but I can choose to leave them behind. I remind myself that there’s not a great protagonist without an antagonist, and no one achieves greatness without being marred by failures and disappointments. It’s how we choose to see those things in our life, how we respond to them and whether or not we have the ability to move past them that makes us great.
How do you choose to see the roadblocks that came into your life this year? What are you going to do about the failures and disappointments that happened? How are you responding to life changes that came out of nowhere? Bitter. Angry. Hurt. Faithless. Defeated. Those are words I would have used for the times when I’ve faced years that didn’t go according to my plan. It’s not wrong that you feel those things. They’re normal human emotions that God placed in us. If we hold onto those emotions and allow them to steer our decisions and life, then we get into trouble.
God told us in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and sin not.” He was saying that’s ok to feel these emotions, but don’t let them control you. I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s a choice. One that only you can make. You can choose to leave those feelings behind in this chapter along with the reasons for those feelings. You can choose to pick out the good things in your life and to move forward with them instead. Begin your next chapter on a high note. Begin the next year free from the things that held you down this year.
Next year is full of blank pages waiting to be filled. You have to choose if you want this chapter to be a comedy, tragedy, drama or adventure. Just because this year was full of drama or tragedy it doesn’t mean that next year has to be. I’m reminded of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books I read when I was a child. At the bottom of each page, you had the choice of what the character did next. If you thought they should do this, then you turned to page 38. If you thought they should do that, then you turned to page 64. Life is a lot like that. You choose your next steps.
I choose to let God order my next steps. I still have to take them, but I don’t have to take them alone. Before you do anything or begin to write your chapter for next year, stop and ask God what He wants to fill your pages with. Ask Him to help you close this chapter and to move on from it. Seek His wisdom in where you go from here. Spend time in prayer and planning instead of just letting life take you where it wants. Just like a budget tells your money where to go, a plan tells your life where to go. Get together with God and make a plan for an amazing new year.