SO. How are those New Year’s resolutions coming along?
I took a moment to look at my “resolutions” for 2017…. let’s just say things didn’t go exactly as planned. Thankfully, I moved closer to surrendering everything to God.
This year I committed to one resolve: be more present. I am so “busy” that days, special moments, and sometimes, even people, inadvertently become a checkmark on my never-ending list of things that occupy my time. The Holy Spirit gave me a guiding word for the year, FOCUS, and I’m hanging on to it. More on that later.
Maybe you have realized your resolutions are a little too restricting or demanding. As we reshuffle our year’s agenda with some realistic goals, here are 3 "simpler" things I suggest we stop doing in 2018.
1) Posting nonsense on social media.
The complaints. The rants. The out-of-context scriptures.
Trust me, I have been on the receiving end of bad customer service, kids that are *trying* to drive you bonkers, frustration over another scandal in the news, you name it, but we need to take these things to God, not social media.
The truth is posting offensive content on your feeds does not glorify God. No matter how funny, how “viral,” or how seemingly trendy/relevant.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”. Philippians 4:8, KJV
Instead of reacting to everything, let’s try reflecting before we post, tag, like, or share.
Christianity is about Jesus, not legalistic platforms, theoretical nuances, or doctrinal disputes.
Oh, and if you're using your various statuses to defend the cause of Christ stop trying to be politically correct in your posts. The Gospel offends. The Gospel reproves and rebukes. The Gospel challenges and warns (see: 2 Timothy 4:2). In our humanity, we are inclined to sin and to resist the truth of the gospel. So naturally Truth often contradicts our own desire and sometimes our actions. Don’t be afraid to take a stand for Christ. If you’re trying to win a popularity contest in this world, you probably won’t be popular with Jesus.
Another thing before we move on to #2: Please remember that non-Christians cannot live like Christ. Like seriously. It’s hard enough for Christians to live Christ-like. The only reason why you, as a Christian, can live a life of godliness is because of the enabling power of the Holy Spirit (see: 2 Peter 1:3). No Christ = No Holy Spirit.
“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ….” 2 Corinthians 4:4
Why we are shocked by ungodly behavior in the life of a non-Christian is beyond me. What governs your life, has no authority in theirs.
Our task is to live a life that reflects that of Christ and share the Good News of the gospel. Jesus died so everyone could be saved, but not everyone will choose or receive Him. Live to point people to Jesus and don’t get upset if they don’t embrace Him with open arms. Sometimes all you need to do is plant the seed or be the light.
2) Promising “I’ll pray for you” without actually praying.
I am almost certain everyone has done this at one time or another. I know I have. Even when we don’t mean to forget, it’ll happen if we aren’t intentional about praying for those needs.
Don’t miss the opportunity to speak life into someone. Maybe you can pray on the spot when you receive the request to help strengthen someone’s faith or encourage them on their walk with Christ.
"Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere". Ephesians 6:18, NLT
And while we’re on the topic of prayer. Let’s also stop confusing “positive thoughts” and “wishful thinking” with actual prayer. They’re not the same. Not even close. Prayer is a deliberate act, whether grand or frail, that trusts God to work on our behalf for His glory.
Annnnnnd let’s also stop gossiping in the name of prayer. You know, when someone confides in you, so you "confide" in someone else, usually with no intention of actually praying? Yeah, let’s stop that.
3) Saying you wish you had more time to read your Bible.
Did you know that if you read the Bible for just 12 minutes a day, at a moderate speed, you could read the whole thing in one year?
Nowadays we literally have the Word at our fingertips: all kinds of versions, translations, reading plans, devotionals, and yet, many of us still struggle to “find time” to read.
This is deliberate.
Satan wants you to believe that 1) you don’t have enough time to read your Bible because you are already so stretched and 2) that it’s boring and you’ve got more important things to do. Yes, there’s laundry, homework, projects, and a host of other responsibilities you need to get to before you go to bed. But if you truly believe that all Scripture is God-breathed, then reading God’s Word is essentially like having a conversation with Him. You make time for everything else; make time to build your relationship with Him.
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11, ESV
And don’t only read your Bible, either. God has revealed Himself in many ways and there are a lot of books out there that are meant to help build your character, maintain your integrity, and strengthen your faith.
Did I mention my new book, Hello, My Name is Grace is out? ;) If you're like the average person who reads between 125 and 150 words per minute, at 15 minutes a day, you’d finish it in less than 3 weeks. At that rate, you could easily be reading a new book every month this year! #goals.
Whew. I've got work to do. What do you think? What would you add to the list?
I'd love to hear from you. Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, here are 7 verses for getting you through 2018.