This is a devotional thought I originally wrote a few years ago. I hope it will bless you as you consider another year to live for God’s glory.
The Year in Review and a New Start!
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
-The unexamined life is not worth living.
Sometimes we don’t always to so well when it comes to honest self-evaluation. Even our worship and church/ministry activities can become an empty monotony that we repeat weekly without making any real, meaningful changes in our lives.
I love New Year’s Day. I know another year means I’m getting a year older and that I’ll write the wrong date for a few weeks, but I still love it. This celebration allows me to have sort of a personal “year in review.” I encourage you to experience this process with me.
Putting off the old self, putting on the new!
. . . throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
I want to get rid of more of the “old self” and to put on the “new self” more than ever before in this new year! Here are seven questions that I challenge you to go through with me:
Could you improve your spiritual discipline?
Most of us have room for improvement in this area. Make this the year that you are more committed than ever to spend time with God on a daily basis. Your daily devotional time (or lack thereof) will make or break your spiritual life—period (remember that personal spiritual discipline also includes Scripture memorization, study, and others). You also may need to be more committed in your corporate spiritual disciplines (attending church, group Bible study, etc).*
Are there any habitual sins that haunted you this past year?
In other words, are there any sins that you tended to repeat over and over? Some call these “pet sins.” Why not make this the year that you gain victory over this sin! Get rid of the sin that his entangling you and hindering your spiritual growth (Hebrews 12:1). This would lead to a major breakthrough in your spiritual walk. You will hear God more clearly, be more sensitive to His voice, and know the sweet intimacy that comes with obeying Him.
Could you take better care of your body?
We only have one body, and it is up to us to take good care of it. Do you follow a healthy diet and an exercise program? I’m not saying that you need to have a “swimsuit calendar” body. I’m not saying you should avoid junk food for the rest of your life (no one does this 100% of the time). I’m simply asking if you are taking steps to keep your body in shape. Find something you like to do (gym, walking, jogging, basketball, badminton, etc) and make time to do it a few times a week. Our physical health affects many other aspects of our life (stress level, mental health, attitude, etc).
Were you a good steward of your finances this past year?
Did you give generously to the Lord? Did you spend your money wisely last year? Are you in debt right now? Are you saving money? Consider last year’s spending and see if the Lord would have you make any changes for this next year (students, many of you don’t have an income right now—just remember this question once you do have a job).
Did you waste too much time last year on things that lacked eternal value?
I’m not saying that everything we do has to be “spiritual.” I am saying that we have a tendency to spend more time than we intended on entertainment, hobbies, etc. Who, for example, wants this to be written on your tombstone:
“He watched a lot of Television. He never missed an episode of . . .”
Pretty pathetic, huh? Well, we have a tendency to daily invest time in things that are empty. The time ads up, and before you know it, you have wasted countless hours on worthless things. The Bible urges us to make the most of our limited time here on earth (Ephesians 5:16). Make a commitment to cut back on television, etc and make the best use of your time for 2007.
Are there any decisions that you have been putting off?
It may be that God is leading you to join a church, become involved with a certain ministry, make a career change, take better care of your body, or a number of other possible decisions. Maybe you have told yourself you will do it “next week” for the past fifty-two weeks! Why delay any longer if God has clearly spoken to you?
Is your life going in the direction that will most glorify God?
This is a pretty general question, and could mean a lot of different things. I am simply asking if you (and your family) are in the place where God wants you to be, doing what God wants you to do. Paul prayed that the Philippians would be able to know what is “best” or “excellent,” depending on the translation of the Bible you use (Philippians 1:10). Make this a year that you live in the absolute center of God’s will for you. Don’t settle for good when God wants what is best!
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Here’s one final challenge I’ll give you for this New Year—get an accountability partner! I think one of the greatest failures in modern church life is a lack of real accountability. Choose someone of the same sex and maturity level that you can be completely honest with. Meet with this person once a week and ask each other about your personal lives. I have a list of accountability questions I’d be happy to email to you if you are interested.
I hope and pray this will be a year of godly excellence for you and your family!
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