The last days of 2018 sped by like the final squares on a roll of toilet paper. In considering the New Year, my prayer is that I’ll manage my life instead of arbitrary influences controlling me. After the holidays, I have lots of things that need to be corralled—including sweets, spending, and schedules!
Interruptions and temptations to address the immediate at the expense of the important fill every stage of life. Someone posted a meme that said good habits are as easy to make and keep as bad ones. I don’t buy it! Bad habits come by default. Good ones take effort.
Jesus’ words to His Father on the night of His betrayal intrigue and challenge me: “I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave me to do” (John 17:4 NIV).
How could He say this? Think of all those who had not yet heard His message. What about all those who were sick and hadn’t been healed? Notice, He did not say all the work was completed but that He had finished the work His Father had given Him to do. There is a difference.
At the end of my life I want to know I brought glory to my Father by doing His will. For that to happen I must guard my daily focus like a mother bear protects her cubs.
At times Jesus left crowds that had gathered to hear Him. He skipped lunch to have a conversation with one Samaritan woman. These choices don’t appear strategic, yet that one woman brought her whole town to Jesus!
How did Jesus know His Father’s will? He told us in John 5:19 (NIV):
Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does”
Jesus kept His eyes on His Father. “‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work’” (Jn. 4:35 NIV). Have you made that your life aim?
A successful runner keeps the finish line in mind. A year is a lap in the race of life. To end well we need to know where we’re headed. Here are some suggestions to help you start and end 2019 well.
What work has God given you?
God has given us different bents, talents, and spiritual gifts. You may feel drawn to pray, teach, serve, evangelize, or encourage. But all believers share a common work—the work of faith.
When some people asked Jesus, “‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent’” (Jn. 6:28-29 NIV).
The work of every believer is to walk by faith—in every area of life, not just in the spiritual arenas. “The righteous will live by faith” (Rom. 1:17 NIV). Paul went so far as to say that “everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Rom. NIV), and the context of this statement is eating.
That means believing Jesus in me is greater than any trial I will face this year. He is able to save me from the pull of sin, any job challenge, relationship problem, my own weaknesses, bitterness, and discouragement. I have no excuse to continue in fear and doubt. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to me to live a life that pleases God (Ephes. 1:3, 17-21).
And check out the reward for believing in Jesus each day—joy, peace, and hope!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).
Seek yearly goals.
What do you want to be different when 2019 ends? Ask God what He wants for you. He may have some ideas! Keep it simple. One achievable change per area is better than big plans that overwhelm you. Or you might choose to focus more on one particular area for the next quarter because the others are doing well.
If you can envision a clear end, spell it out. Then work backwards to see steps needed to get there. You may want to create weekly, monthly, or quarterly steps to help you arrive at your goals. Pace yourself and reap the reward.
Consider how you might live a life of faith in the following areas. Some areas may be on track for you and need no changes. I’ve included a couple of personal examples.
• Spiritual development: I want my life to count for eternity, so each day I will connect with God by reading His Word and praying over my plans and concerns.
• Health: Because my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and I want to live a productive life, I will choose whole foods and eliminate processed ones, include 6-8 daily servings of fruits and veggies, walk 10,000 steps a day, and participate in an exercise class once or twice a week.
• Personal growth
Write them down.
Did you know that writing your goals statistically increases the likelihood you will reach them? Do you want to spend more quality time with your spouse? Write down when and ideas on how to incorporate that into your life. Do you want to read certain books? List them.
Someone said the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing, expecting different results. What will you do differently to achieve positive change?
Pray and review throughout the year.
Pray about your desires. Ask God to open doors, to instruct, and to lead you on this journey. Creating new habits takes discipline but having a goal in mind and knowing why you are making changes will keep you motivated.
We may not be able to predict the future, but if our aim is to walk with God and please Him, we will! Through His strength, regardless of the circumstances we encounter, 2019 can be a year of hope and joy.
Give Yourself a Break is a user-friendly guide to renewing your mind and walking with God by faith.
Comment: Name one area you want to see improved this year and one thing you plan to do to help it happen.
Happy New Year,