I can get obsessive about setting goals. It is just so wonderful to have a clean slate of a new year, and dream, and work towards objectives. But this year, I’m thinking that I don’t need to be focused on big, fancy goals. It strikes me that what is really going to be effective is simply sticking to the process. GOD’S PROCESS WORKS!
In the end, if we are LIVING as disciples, we will stand in awe at how God is working. It’s tempting to think of all of kinds of plans and directions to go in. But if we stick to the basics, we will be blessed. I believe from the bottom of my heart that this New Year, and every year, holds GREAT PROMISE if we embrace God’s plan in the following ways.
Build a great relationship with God. Let us delight in Him, and enjoy spending time with our Father, our confidant, our protector, the one who cares. May we thrill at living the life He has given us. He will be working on our behalf all the while.
- Delight yourself in God, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Ps 37:4
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Prov 3:5-6
- I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing John 15:5
- But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt 6:33
- Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Gal 6:9
- But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jer 17:7
- They devoted themselves to the apostles teachings, to the fellowship…and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42,47
Really care about others. People need to be our treasure on earth, and in heaven. Enjoy meeting people, talking to them, spending time with them.
How do you make people your treasure? Have a list of people that you pray for. If you pray for them, they are more important to you. Make it a practice to THANK GOD FOR THEM daily. And then, realize that we are all interconnected. The way you treat your brother WILL ripple back and affect you.
- The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you! . . . If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. I Cor 12:21, 26
- For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. I Thes 3:8
- As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. Ps 16:3
- What is my joy, my crown For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? I Thes 2:19
- How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? I Thes. 3:9
- I always thank my God for you because of God’s grace given to you in Christ Jesus, I Cor 1:4
- First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. . . I remember you in my prayers at all time Rom 1:8-10
- Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, Eph 1:15-16
- Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Gal. 6:2
Step out in faith, out of our comfort zone. We all probably have those times of faith where we act boldly. But most of our life we are caught up in day to day living. Most of the time we protect ourselves and don’t want to go out on a limb. The challenge of discipleship is to get out of the boat every day.
- Cast your bread upon the waters. . . Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well. (From Ecc 11)
- Against all hope Abraham in hope believed, and so became the father of many nations. Romans 4:18
- Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Acts 4:29
- When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. Mark 7:25-29
- The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Matt 8:8
Commit to holiness. To me, the older I get, the more dealing with sin seems like my bathroom. I clean it, but the next day the grossness is there again — the toothpaste spatters, hair, dust, soap scum, etc. When I was younger I thought I would be able to get rid of certain attitudes forever. But things like jealousy and glory hogging keep popping up in my life, until I think this is normal and just accept them.
We need to renew our determination to get in the dusty, mildewed corners of our hearts daily and clean house. We need to rebuild the faith that God’s tools ARE EFFECTIVE to do this — and then find and apply great scriptures, pray fervently for God’s guidance and assistance, confess, and work with the Spirit.
- And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. II Cor 7:1
- But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; I Peter 1:15
- For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life I Thes 4:7
- You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood. . . etc. Eph 4:22-23
- Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship Rom 12:1
- We take every thought captive so that it is obedient to Christ. 2 Cor 10:5
- If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. Matt 5:29
- For if you live according to the flesh, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. Romans 8:13
Trust and live in the moment. We need to take a deep breath, trust that each moment is just where we need to be, and live it to the fullest. Each moment is a purposeful gift from the God who has ordered all of time in the vast scheme of His most amazing and marvelous will. Each moment is all we have. Each moment can make a difference. Let’s not sully it with worries, projections or distractions.
- …continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
- “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” John 12:27
- Jesus gave them this answer: “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.” John 5:19
- The LORD is my inheritance and my cup. You are the one who determines my destiny. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Ps 16:5-6
There is great comfort in knowing that God’s process works. We don’t have to come up with the perfect plan, the flashiest way to get people to church, the best technique to meet people. We just need to revel in God, take joy in others, maintain integrity, and live our life believing that each moment has purpose. God is the Master Gardener, and He will do the rest.
Months ago I wrote a blog called, “A Better Tomato.” I discussed how I tried to grow a tomato plant, but it didn’t produce any tomatoes. But weeks after I wrote that, lo and behold, the tomatoes came! Lots of little cherry tomatoes started popping out on my plant. Even after I left it outside during a freeze, the tomatoes continued to ripen, and there are pretty orange globes on the brown stalks of my plant right now.
I have an orchid given to me by my friend Markeya. Sometimes it goes for long stretches without any blooms. It looks like a couple of green sticks in a pot. But a few weeks ago it started to develop 7-8 buds, and one is just about to open. I can’t wait.
All of this gives me such hope. God gives us plants that flourish, to show us he knows how to make life abound. I can’t think of anything better to do in this New Year than to love Him, love others, and let Him bring the increase.