New year has started. Probably for some of you, you have written your new year’s resolutions (for the *nth time). Others might have started their journey towards betterment.
I don’t know about you, but new year for me is a good start to reflect on the things from the past and to ponder on the things to be accomplished moving forward. I had a lot of new year’s resolutions before. But as days, weeks, and months progressed, they were all slowly fading, too.
Last year was a very challenging year for me. Maybe because what I planned for myself was out of the way from God’s plan. A sudden and total change had happened in my life. I was not prepared. A supposedly detour that I expected became the new road that I need to walk on. I was struggling to accept that, at first. Change is hard. Sometimes, it brings pain and discomfort. Yet, as what people say, “change is the only permanent thing.” We have the choice to be better or worse, to resist or embrace that change and turn it into something beautiful.
New Year resolutions are good but if they are not align with God, then for me, it is self-centered. I had written so many self-centered resolutions. And now, the Lord has changed my perspective completely.
As I look ahead at this year, my challenge to myself as a Christian is “how can i have a fruitful year for the Lord?”
I consider some things that I need to remind myself as I strive to be in God’s will this year. Now, that the Lord has opened my eyes to what matters most, I want to be a better Christian not for myself but for Him. I want this year end well.
1. Walk with God daily and seek Him first
This is something that maybe you find easy. However, for me it is not. For the past years, I had strive to journey with God daily. I intended to seek Him first. But I had a lot of distractions. It was just last year when God had taught me the value of walking with Him. It is not for Him but for me. I am sure that we all want to walk with God on a day to day basis. Then, we would know that this comes with consistency and effort. As we determine to walk with God, we need to keep in mind that time with God is the most important thing. Not only time, but our best time for Him. Walk with God so we won’t walk with the world.
“If I walk with the world, I can’t walk with God.” D.L. Moody
As we walk closer to God, our worldly cravings will go down the slope until we are already fully satisfied with Him and long for nothing from the world. The Scripture promised us that if we seek His kingdom, all the things shall be added unto us (Matthew 6:33).
2. Study and learn from His Word more
Knowing the Lord means knowing His Word. We face different things daily. Without His Word, it will be so hard for us to go on our day. His Word will direct us to the right path.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105
My goal for this year is to read the entire bible from Genesis to Revelation. Also, I have adapted “One chapter of Psalm or one book” per month. I know I still need to learn a lot. And, the only way I would learn more is through His Word.
3. Commit your plans to the Lord
I’ve always thought that I committed my plans to the Lord. But when I had my spiritual inventory, I was not actually committing it. I was just informing God of what I wanted to do with the time that He had given me. The end result? It was always in chaos. Then, I would find myself blaming God. Such a terrible and shameful act towards Him.
The bible teaches us to plan. We just need to hold it loosely, so when God gives us His will, we won’t be clinging on our own plans (Proverbs 3:5-6)
“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Proverbs 16:3
4. Pray more
When I became expose to the ministry, I learned that there are so many things that we as Christians need to pray about. I remember those moments when all I would ask were my concerns. I am not a prayer warrior. I think I am lazy when it comes to praying. Maybe that is the reason I worry a lot. Paul is right when he said that we must not worry for anything but pray to God (Philippians 4:6).
“Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.” George Herbert
“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” Corrie Ten Boom
I was able to prove how prayer can change things in the same way as it changes my heart and my dependence on God.
5. Love others more
I was blessed when a brother shared his testimony with us. He was a Buddhist prior to becoming a Christian. He told us that he was drawn by how Christians in his place love each other. It compelled him to be curious about our beliefs until finally God touched his heart and became a Christian.
Love is the banner of Christianity. This is a sign that our lives are changed by God.
“But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.” I John 2:11
This is the greatest test that we can take. Loving others especially those who hurt and offend us is not possible without realizing God’s unconditional love for us. But this separates us from the world. It is my prayer that God will enable me to love others unconditionally. More so, my brethren.
6. Forgive people
When talking about forgiveness, I always remember Joseph’s story. Whenever I have a hard time forgiving others, I read his story. His life was inspired by how God forgave us.
Many years ago, I had a hard time forgiving those who hurt me. Until I came to understand God’s love and forgiveness for me. We cannot forgive without love. But love covers a multitude of sins and we choose to forgive in the same way as God forgave. Love will compel us to humble ourselves for the sake of others.
“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
7. Serve more
As what believers would say, we are saved to serve. There are so many opportunities to help. It does not mean that you should always be in the ministry. We can be a friend to a lonely churchmate. We can be an encouragement to people around us, and even help teach the less fortunate kids. Our purpose is to serve more in any possible way. When I learned that I was very sick, it dawned on me how short our time is on earth. If we are not being used by God, then who will be our master? It could be the world.
I became a slave of the world for so many years. This year, I want to be used by God in any possible way I can. I want to be more committed to do God’s work.
Whenever we become busy doing God’s work, our personal desires will subside. Let us be like the Proverbs 31 woman who extends her help to the needy (Proverbs 31:20-21).
8. Be a better friend
I am not the sweet type of person. I am also lazy in asking some friends how they are doing. But one thing that God has allowed me to see is how to treasure my friends and loved ones. I want to spend more time with them. I want to be a friend who listens.
Friendship will grow through constant communication. It does not mean that we spend everyday talking with our friends but it is more on the availability whenever they need our ears, voice, and pieces of advice. The bible teaches us that “a friend loveth at all times and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:27).
It means that I must be a friend whom they can share their troubles with.
9. Learn new things
Learning never ends. Learn new things but not for selfish reasons. Last year, my goal is to learn how to play the guitar. I have been wanting to learn but I became so lazy. This can be good because I could use it in the ministry, but I guess it is not just my skill. Though, I know I can.
This year I want to learn how to cook better. Living in Vietnam for months gave me the opportunity to see how good Vietnamese women are in cooking. It is something that I never see in the Philippines often.
Even the Proverbs 31 woman knows the importance of knowing how to prepare meals for others.
“She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.” Proverbs 31:15
What do you want to learn this year that would be beneficial to the church and the brethren?
10. Read good books and listen to biblically sound preaching
I have been reading books these past years. And this year, I still want to read even more. Reading good read books can help us see some of the experiences of other people that might be beneficial to us as we minister and serve others. Likewise, good and biblically sound preaching is an advantage. Listening to podcast or online preaching while we are on our way to work or class will be a great way to maximize our time.
You can actually make your own version on how you would and could be a better Christian this year. I am sure that the Lord is impressing somethings in your life.
Cheers to an exciting and Spirit-filled 2019!