1 Peter 3:15 “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.”
For some reason the church has lost sight of the fact that Christianity is not a spectator sport. Sunday after Sunday churches around the world fill with people who sit, listen and leave and then fall right back into whatever worldly patterns they have established for themselves. God’s word tells us that we are to “Go and make disciples”, “study to show ourselves approved”, and “be salt and light to the world”. These things don’t happen automatically. And for us to do these things, we must know more than just who saved us. We must know more than what we believe. We must know why we believe as we do. This requires no special degree, no ordination, and no gift for speaking. It is something that lies within every Christian’s grasp. It won’t, however, simply happen upon you or fall in your lap. Challenge yourself in the coming year to not merely tell people Jesus is your rock, but be prepared to explain to them what that means. Don’t just tell them you can do “all things through Christ” and not be able to tell them how you know. Once you know, you will have the confidence to reach out and let others know!
Pray: “Dear Heavenly Father, in this new year that is upon us, help me to dig deeper in understanding why I believe as I do so that from that might spring a boldness that will give me confidence to speak and will give me the strength of my convictions with which to bring your good news to the world. In Jesus’ matchless name I humbly ask – Amen.”
Proverbs 4:25 “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.”
Philippians 3:13 “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,”
Perhaps like most Christians one of your new year’s resolutions involve doing more for God, growing closer to God, or seeing more of God in your life. While these are all good and worthy things, like most things with God, they will not just happen for the wishing. As we begin a new year, full of new hope and new possibilities, why don’t we look to Solomon’s wisdom to advise us as we begin our 2017 journey. If God is to be our goal, then it is imperative we keep our eyes firmly fixed on him. Too many people spend far too much time looking backwards instead of forwards. Perhaps it is to make sure the baggage they are dragging behind them is still there. Perhaps it is because they are still wondering “what if” or longing for day’s past. The sad truth is that there is nothing behind you, absolutely nothing that can be changed. God’s plan for your life stretches out before you. There are two things you must do: forget the past. It is done. It is unchangeable. And “fix” your eyes ahead. Do not look back but keep your eyes steady on – for God is going before you to smooth the way.
Pray: “Lord Jesus, help me today to cut the ties that bind me to the past. My road to you lies before me and my eyes need to stay fixed on where it is you are sending me. Who I am in you doesn’t lie in my past but in my future. Let my eyes always be toward you and what lies ahead. With your help I can make it so and in your name I ask it – Amen.”
Proverbs 4:26 “Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path”
Though it is the Lord that guides our steps, Solomon says we are to “mark out” our path and that it should be a “safe” one. Simply put, once we have the vision of where the Lord is taking us, we must have a plan for getting there. Each step should be carefully considered and charted to reach our destination. We cannot throw ourselves into life like a ship without a rudder! Many times, we will be tempted to try and take the shortest route (it’s faster) or the easiest route (it requires less of us) to get to our destination. Today, nobody seems to want to wait for anything or willingly chooses the path of least resistance hoping to get “something for nothing”. Neither is usually the safest path. Not to mention the world would have you believe that, where God is concerned, there are many roads that lead to him. But his word says that there is only one…and it is narrow and few choose it. Why? Because it is neither faster nor easier. But the path you are on is perfectly designed to get you where you are going…but does it really lead to the destination you desire?
Pray: “Lord God, I know I have gotten to where I am by following the path I have chosen. If I do not look ahead and see you, I am on the wrong path. Help me today, Father, to change my path as needed. It is never too late. Let me choose the path that you have laid out before me, whether it be longer or uphill – for you, my God, are the only destination I have. In your Son’s holy name, I thank you for guiding me…Amen.”
Proverbs 4:27 “Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil;”
The devil’s style has never been very flashy. He’s not going to show up with pitchfork, pointy tail and skin ablaze to try and sidetrack you from the path you are on. He’ll use every subtle trick in the book to distract you and turn your attention away from where you are going. Consider this: if you are only traveling a short distance, a small error in direction is not a big deal. But your life is a journey…a long journey…and if you even get slightly off course and don’t realize it, before long you can find yourself someplace you never intended to be. On a ship, one degree off course for 10 minutes can get you, depending on your speed, a couple hundred yards off course. But imagine the same tiny error for one day. You could be hundreds of miles off course! If the devil manages to get you sidetracked, you might not realize it for weeks, months, even years! Suddenly, nothing looks familiar and you are not where you wanted to be. That is the devil’s plan – get you just a little off course. So how important is it, then, that you keep your eyes firmly on the compass you are steering by?
Pray: “Heavenly Father, I never realized how important it was to keep my eyes firmly on my course. The devil doesn’t need a major even to derail me when, if I allow myself to be distracted, he can sidetrack me and lead me away from you. Thank you for helping to keep me focused. Thank you for teaching me to steer a steady course. In the name of the one who gave his all for me, Jesus, I humbly ask it – Amen.”
Nehemiah 6:3 “so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?”
It seems like multitasking has become the standard for our society today. It is no longer enough to do one thing and do it well but now we must do several things simultaneously. Unfortunately, the more we pile on our plate, the more that gets lost off the edges. This generation seems bent on accomplishing everything at once – better to do three things satisfactorily than one thing exceptionally. But for those who have walked with the Lord awhile, they know that as he gives us our mission, it is a single task at a time. God wants us focused on what he has given us to do. He prefers we do his work exceptionally, to the best of our ability, by not allowing others to crowd things into our schedule that will diminish our effectiveness. When Jesus told us we should take his yoke upon us because it is both easy and light, consider the analogy: how many things can a yoked ox do? One. While you are engaged in the “great work” the Lord has given you to do, and don’t doubt it is both great and important, will you have the wisdom and tenacity of heart to say “sorry, I can’t come…kingdom business, you see”?
Pray: Lord God, help me to break the habit of busyness in my life and truly engage my gifts and attention on the “great work” you have given me to do. Give me understanding when the urge is upon me to ‘take on more’ so that my focus and efforts for you are not diminished. Today Lord I commit my best to you – and I thank you for trusting me with my own part in your plan. May all glory and honor be yours, Father, in Jesus’ name – Amen.”