As we close the door on one year and open the door to another, I think it’s good to have a spiritual resolution for the new year as well. I believe Philippians 4:4-8 provides us with some great things we should resolve to do not just in the coming year, but throughout our life. Verse 4 says, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” (NLT) In 2019, don’t let anything steal your joy. Joy shouldn’t be based on your circumstances, and it’s where you get your strength from. Trust in what God is doing and stay joyful.
Verse 6 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Refuse to let worry have a foothold in your life. It uses today’s strength for tomorrow’s problems. Turn your worry into prayer. Let the The things you can’t control push you closer to the One who can control them. Prayer changes our perspective and helps us to let go of the burdens that are too heavy for us to bear. Put them in God’s hands and take His burden which is light.
Verse 7 says, “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Having peace in your heart, your mind and in your life is a wonderful thing. We were not created to live in turmoil. When we learn to trust a God with our decisions and with the things in our life that we can’t control, we can have God’s peace. Let His peace guide you in the coming year so that you operate in His will for your life.
Finally verse 8 says, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Choose what to think about. Your thoughts are powerful and determine the direction of your life. Don’t dwell on what could be, but focus on what is true. One true thing I focus on is that God is in control, and nothing that happens in my life is a surprise to Him. 2019 is already history to God. Resolve to make it the year that you trust Him completely and you will experience joy, peace and faith.
Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” is a proverb so many of us were raised with. From our childhood we are taught that we should hold onto what is certain instead of going for the unsure thing. We are taught that risk isn’t worth it through this proverb. I would even say that this proverb teaches against faith. It wants us to hold on to what we have instead of letting go to see what God might give us.
Abraham was a man who walked by faith. In Genesis 12:1, the Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s home, and go to a land that I am going to show you” (NLT). In this verse, God is asking Abram to let go of the bird in the hand. He had security where he was. He had his father’s inheritance coming to him and the protection of family too. God was saying, “Walk away from all of this, and I will give you more than you could ever imagine or think of.”
I believe God still speaks that to us today. I believe He calls each one of us to trust Him on a level beyond where we are so that He can give us more than we have. The promise is only good if we let go of the bird in the hand. Abram was promised descendants, a nation, blessings and fame if only he would walk away from everything he knew. I wonder how long he wrestled with it. I wonder how long he questioned if he had really heard from God.
Because Abram was human, you know he had to struggle with these questions just like you and I. The difference is that he was willing let go of the temporary for the eternal. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” God has called you and I to live by the same faith he required of Abram. He calls us to let go of the bird in the hand and to trust Him. When we do, He rewards us with so much more.
Recently I attended the commencement ceremonies for my alma matter and a friend of mine had been asked to be the keynote speaker. He talked to them about how the Bible says they should dress for success in life. In one of his points, he made the comment, “Be led by obedience to God, not by opportunity.” I stopped and wondered how many times I had confused opportunity with the will of God. It’s natural to think when a great opportunity presents itself that it’s from God. More often than not, those times are tests of our faith to see if we are going to be obedient to what God wants or to do what’s expedient for ourselves.
If you know anything about the story of David in the Bible, you know that after he was anointed King, Saul began to hunt him down to kill him in order to preserve his royal lineage. In I Samuel 24, Saul was hunting David and went into a cave to relieve himself. What he didn’t know was that David and his men were hiding in that very cave. The opportunity presented itself to David to be able to take Saul’s life and assume the throne. It appeared that God had given him the opportunity to fulfill the promise He had made to him.
David’s men saw it as such and spoke to him about it in verse 4. They said, “Now’s your opportunity! Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do as you wish.” His men were led by opportunity instead of obedience and they gave him bad advice. I’m sure they were tired of living in caves and were ready to live in palaces. They saw this as their opportunity to get out of poverty. They knew David had been anointed the next King so this must have been God’s way of making it happen.
David took their suggestion that this was God’s will instead of seeking it out himself. He made a split decision that he regretted. He snuck up next to Saul and couldn’t kill him. Instead, he cut off a piece of his robe. He heard the quiet voice of God in his spirit over the overwhelming voices of his advisors. He chose to obey God instead by not killing him. His conscious bothered him for even cutting Saul’s robe. In verse 6 he said, “I shouldn’t attack the Lords anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.” He knew the scriptures had said, “Don’t touch God’s anointed.”
The Word of God should overrule any opportunity that presents itself. God will not ask you to do something that is contrary to the Bible. He may allow opportunities to arise in your life, but He will not ask you to chose them over obedience to what He’s already said. It takes wisdom, patience and courage to do what God says even if opportunities present themselves as God’s will for you. Always take time to seek out God’s voice over man’s when opportunity knocks. Don’t just assume it is God giving you what you want. Be led by obedience not by opportunity.