When today draws to a close, the whole world will celebrate another year gone. But this isn’t just a year passing, it’s also a decade (and a score as my son will tell you). It’s a time for looking back as well as ahead. Where were you in 2010? What was happening in your life? Are you better off now than then? Are you where you thought you’d be? Had you given any thought to where you wanted to be ten years later? A lot can change in a decade that is out of our control, but there’s also a lot that you and I can control. Looking forward and dreaming about what God wants to do through you is one of those things.
We know Jeremiah 29:11 says that God knows the plans He has for us, but do we know the plans we have for ourselves? As a Christian, it’s important to be proactive with our lives. We can’t afford to just go with the flow. You were created with purpose on purpose. Unless you set goals, make a plan, create practical steps to achieve and measure your progress in that plan, you may find yourself in 2030 no where near where you want to be having lost a decade. Where do you want to be 10 years from now? What are some major things you want to accomplish? What would you like God to do through you in that time?
The Golden Rule In Matthew 7:12 tells us to treat others the way we want to be treated. Do you have a goal for how you want to treat others going forward? Romans 15:2 says, “Our goal must be to empower others to do what is right and good for them, and to bring them into spiritual maturity” (TPT). Think of ways you can empower others in your life, and do something daily to do it. You don’t have to do something big, but through your consistent, small actions, you can make a world of difference in the lives of people around you. Seek God on what He would like to do through you to empower others each day so that you can help them reach their goals and spiritual maturity. In ten years, you can change countless lives, but it starts with a choice, a plan and an action.
Photo by Eddy Billard on Unsplash
This is the time of year when a lot of people are making changes in their life. It’s a new year, so why not create a new you? We all know that New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep. There are scheduling conflicts, your body is not used to getting up early, gyms are crowded, and a whole other plethora of reasons why it’s difficult to keep your resolution. While most resolutions focus on your outward body, there’s one that focuses internally that I hope you’ll keep.
Proverbs 23:7 tells us that we are what we think. Your mind is very powerful. It tells you what to believe about yourself and others, and we always act according to our beliefs. If you are constantly telling yourself that you’re a nobody, that you’re fat, that you’re ugly, that you’re stupid, that no one cares for you, or any other negative thing, your body will respond accordingly. My hope for you this year, is that you’ll begin to change how you think so you can become who God sees you as.
To change how you think, you need to begin changing what you think about. Watch what you put into your mind, and also be vigilant about what you allow your mind to dwell on. Challenge the thoughts that aren’t true. Stop the thoughts that take you down the rabbit hole. This is tough, but it can be done. You can retrain your mind what to think by challenging what it already thinks. Hold it to the Philippians 4:8 standard.
That verse says, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse”(MSG). Ask your mind, “Is that true?” If not, tell your mind what is true. You can change your life and it starts with how you think. You can do this! Tell yourself that and begin to believe it because it’s true.
One of the oldest stories in the Bible is the story of Cain and Abel. Cain was a farmer and Abel was a rancher. They both grew up in fellowship with God. They knew who He was and talked with Him. To show their appreciation of His provision, they each offered God a gift. At harvest, Cain offered God some of his crops. They weren’t the best crops or he first part of the harvest. There was nothing outstanding about them. It was just some of what he grew, and the Bible says that God did not accept Cain or his gift.
Abel, on the other hand, offered God the pick of the litter. Genesis 4:4 says, “Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock” (NLT). He wanted to give God his very best and the first pick. He knew that all he had came from God nod he wanted to show how appreciative he was. God accepted this gift because it wasn’t his leftovers or just a few lambs from his flock. It was the best lambs and the best cuts of meat.
Each of us have a choice in what we offer God. Are we giving Him the best part of our day or the leftovers? Are we giving tithes and offerings as soon as we get paid or are we just dropping a twenty in the plate? Are we using the talents He’s given us to further His kingdom or to fill our pockets and fill our house? One of each of these choices pleases God and the other causes Him to not only reject what we give, but to reject us as well.
This time of year, so many people make resolutions that they probably won’t keep because they don’t want to sacrifice. If they were going to make those changes, they’d already be doing them instead of waiting until the first of the year. They don’t make them because their heart isn’t in it. The same thing is true with our gifts to God. If God doesn’t fully have our heart, we won’t give Him the best of what we have to offer. If we trust Him and His Word, and we truly believe that all we have comes from God, we will give Him our very best.
It’s Free Friday! Today is the day you let go of the things in your life that keep you down or hold you back. To celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of “The Power of a Half Hour: Take Back Your Life Thirty Minutes at a Time” by Tommy Barnett. Keep reading to find out how to enter.
Today is National Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day. It’s the day where we break the promises we made just a few short weeks ago. It’s the day where most people go back to their old habits instead of embracing the new ones that they wanted to create in their lives. It only takes us 17 days to realize that breaking old habits is hard and creating new ones is even more difficult. When things go from hard to difficult, we quit. We give up on our dreams of being a better person and dive right back into the way of life that we weren’t happy with.
Today, you have two choices before you. You can ditch your resolutions and go back to who you were last year or you can embrace the changes you want to make and keep moving towards your new story. One of those is easy and the other is not. No one can decide for you. Only you can choose to continue to be free of the things in your life that you’ve resolved to let go of. Only you can push on just a few more days until your resolution becomes a habit. It only takes doing something for 21 days to make it a habit. Why give up 4 days shy of it?
Each of us have things in our life we’d like to cut out and be free of. Each of us feel like we have a better story in us than the one we’re living now. The difference between those that live the story if their dreams and the ones who only dream is persistence. Those who make their dreams a reality don’t give up. They fight through when everyone else quits. They push forward when they hit a wall and then find a way around or over it. They are prepared for the mental battles that lie ahead. You can be one of those people.
I believe we were made to live extraordinary lives. I believe God has planted greatness in each one of us because He has given us His Spirit. Too often we accept a life of mediocrity because it’s easy. We give up on the life God has called us to because of all the road blocks. If God has called you to live an extraordinary life, why would you settle for one that’s ordinary? The people who settle for the ordinary are those who are going back on their resolutions today. You made a commitment to make a change this year, to live the life God called you to. Free yourself from the excuses that are begging you to go back to an ordinary life.
In John 10:10, Jesus said, “I came so that they (you) can have real and eternal life, more and better than they (you) ever dreamed of.” That gift of life that He wants to give isn’t easy to live. It never has been. It requires commitment on our part. It requires moving ahead when all we want to do is quit. It takes daily reminders that God is on our side and is there to cheer us on when things get difficult. You can live the life you’ve dreamed of if you’re willing to be persistent when others ditch their resolutions.
If you would like to win “The Power of a Half Hour” by Tommy Barnett, all, you have to do is go to my Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (January 18, 2014) who has liked my page. If you have already liked my page and enjoy reading these daily devotionals, please invite your friends to like my page so they can receive encouragement from God’s Word too.
I had a Bible teacher in high school who had us write something in the front cover of our Bibles so we would never forget it. I’m glad he had us do it because I haven’t ever forgotten it. He had us write, “This book will keep you from sin. Sin will keep you from this book.” It strikes a chord with me as much now as it did then. In order to lead a successful Christian life, I’ve got to spend time in God’s Word. I’ve got to consume it it like I would food for my physical body.
The more I know God’s Word and what it says, the more I’m aware of what He wants from me. The more aware I am of what He wants from me, the less likely I am to stray from its commands. The less I’m in it, the less I know what God wants from me. The less I know what God wants from me, the more likely I’ll stray from His commands. Psalm 119:11 says it best, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” The only way to hide it in your heart is to read it and study it.
Since it’s the start of a new year, it’s a great time to start investing in your spiritual life. There are many resources to help you read through the Bible in a year. The Bible app offers multiple types of plans to help you read through the Bible. I don’t think you can make a better resolution than to put more of God’s Word into your heart and mind. It’s an investment in the quality of your spiritual life, eternal life and relationship with God. It’s a tough habit to get into and requires sacrifice of your time, but the dividends paid are out of this world.
I once read that it takes doing something 21 days to make something a habit. I also recently read that January 17th is “Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day”. That’s the day most people quit doing their new year’s resolution. So sad that they were 4 days away from making it a permanent habit in their lives. We should all be able to go 21 days straight of reading God’s Word. You can find time by getting up 15 minutes earlier, listening to it in the car on the way to or from work, on your lunch break or 15 minutes before going to sleep.
If you want to live a life with a minimal amount of sin in it, start consuming the Bible. We have a guarantee from God that if we will hide it in our hearts, it will keep us from sinning. We also have a guarantee in verse 105 of Psalm 119 that His Word will be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. So, not only will it keep you from sinning, it will give you direction in your life. I believe we could all use help with that. My challenge for you is to start reading God’s Word daily. If you’re already doing it, stretch yourself to read more than you were before.
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.