I thought I would add my thoughts to the New Year resolution bandwagon. Here goes!
It’s that time of the year again – the time when everyone is thinking about how to make a fresh start and change their lives. Many people plan how to drop habits that weigh them down, and others work on their appearances, while others plan how to make lots of money! As I thought about New Year’s resolutions and the tips that many great thinkers churn out to help people achieve their resolutions, it occurred to me that nobody talks about the mistakes that people are likely to make in the year ahead. Here are some of the mistakes I have made in the past, mistakes that I hope to avoid in 2020!
Chart my path based on the paths of other people
As much as we try to avoid it, comparison crosses our paths often! We see people around us climb the corporate ladder, build large mansions, marry or get married, change cars like clothes, and we want the same. The question is, however, what does God want for me and you?
Psalm 139:16 “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (NLT)
The words ‘me’ and ‘my’ in the verses above imply that God has a unique plan for each individual. If this plan was meant to apply to everyone, the verse would probably have read, “you saw us before we were born, and every day of our lives was recorded in your book!”
God has a special plan for you. Don’t spoil it by trying to duplicate what you see around you.
Ignore God’s Direction
What an educated generation we are! We have the internet, social media, books, newspapers and each other to learn from! Why then do we need God’s help to make the right decisions?
We need Him because He is the author of all wisdom. What we know is nothing compared to what He knows! If we want to succeed in the year ahead, therefore, we must involve Him in all our plans.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (NLT)
Listening for God’s direction is however a challenge to many of us. How do we know whether what we are hearing is God’s voice? How can we be sure that we fully understand what God wants us to do?
Our best and only bet here is the Word. The unchanging Word of God has answers for every possible question we may have. All we need to do is to have the Word hidden deep within our hearts and to take time to understand what it says. With time, this Word springs up from our hearts every time we are making decisions and looking to God for direction.
Don’t fall into the trap of planning first, and then asking the Lord to attach His stamp of approval. Follow Him, obey Him and trust Him.
Carry around the wrong definition of success
Is success a nice house, fat salary, top of the range car and beautiful family? Looking at today’s society, these seem to be the accepted definitions of success. In Proverbs 3 below a different definition of success emerges.
Proverbs 3:1-4 “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” (NIV)
Favor and a good name in the sight of God and man – what an awesome definition of success in God’s eyes, the result of obedience to the Lord’s commands!
What kind of success are you going to strive for in the coming year? Are you going to rely on your own strength to gather up earthly treasures so that people can admire what you have, or are you going to focus on learning more about the Lord and obeying His commands so that people can admire you as a person transformed by God?
Neglect your Spiritual Health
It’s a new year! Why focus on growing spiritually when there is so much else to do? After all, this is the best time to start school, lose weight, pick up a new hobby, join the gym, have a makeover, etc.
The downward slope to spiritual neglect is never planned. It happens slowly and surely. You suddenly find yourself in a deep hole that you cannot get yourself out of.
The psalmist understood how easy it was to lose touch with God and thus resolved to meditate on His Word day and night.
Psalm 1:2 “but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” (NIV)
Psalm 119: 148 “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.” (NIV)
What a challenge for us today! In the Old Testament days, there was no ‘organized’ Bible to read, yet the psalmist would still spend time meditating on the law and the Lord’s promises. Do we really have an excuse to neglect our spiritual health, yet the Bible is so readily available for our consumption? No!
Let’s make sure we are growing in the Lord, and not neglecting our spiritual health. Let’s also resolve to keep this spiritual health in check by measuring it against the Word of God. Lastly, let’s be Christians who feed regularly on the truths in God’s word, the only sure source of spiritual nourishment!