We’re already days into a New Year and we promised ourselves to be different. How’s it going so far? Here are 3 directives to help you effectively establish and execute on life-changing resolve. ◊
The holiday season is over and without much hesitation we are headlong into a new year. We no doubt have new plans, goals, ideas and initiatives mapped out in our heads if not our laptops, phones, calendars, or spreadsheets. We may even have spiritual plans to read the Bible daily (how’s Genesis 3 going?) or go to church more often or just try to live a better life as a good person.
All great things to consider and do.
The problem is in the consistent doing of the right things in a life-impacting way.
I heard a profound thought the other day about famous people who died this past year. Many well-known people we grew up admiring or idolizing died quietly in their old age having retreated from the public scene for years. Is that what life is all about? To be a shooting star that shines brightly for a period and then fades away quickly or quietly? Many famous people died lonely, bitter, even destitute. We often don’t know the private faith of these people – we can only hope they reconciled with God before they passed.
As alluring as it may appear, the answer is not in the production of wealth, fame, or worldly accumulations. The answer is spiritual. It’s about God, and it’s about you in the context of your Creator. Whether you believe in God or not, here are 3 directives to help you effectively establish and execute on the right things in a life-impacting way:
1. Know God
This is not your standard religious directive. This is serious acknowledgement and study of Jesus, the God/Man who lived 2000 years ago and changed the world.
- For Christians: You may believe you already “follow Jesus,” but do you really know what He said, and did, and means to humanity? Following Jesus means to “abide in Him, the Vine” (John 15:1-17), connected like a branch that gets its nourishment for survival from the main source of life. Apart from this connection, the branch withers and dies. Are you connected, abiding, obeying, or going through the motions? Assessing your current state with God is the beginning of a life-changing new era with God. The key to success with this priority is to exercise it daily.
- For Non-Christians: Dealing with the binary decision to follow Jesus or not is, of course, the fundamental decision in your life. You may have disregarded it, forgotten it, rejected it, never heard it, or don’t understand it. It’s never too late to catch up with the truth around the most significant person in human history. It’ll change your life.
2. Talk to God
Far beyond a “I need to pray more” New Year’s resolution, this is about real, every day conversations with God/Jesus. No half-baked arrow prayers here, nor rote prayer recitations. And this is not about reading prayers of significant length with fancy words and Christian jargon. This is about a heart, mind and soul relationship with God/Jesus through His Holy Spirit by way of tapping into the supernatural spiritual realm of prayer.
- For Christians: We are called to “pray always/without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), that is, constant interaction with the source of life power and engagement that is tangible and available, even if not fully understood. Are you seriously in prayer for all things? Do you talk to God like a friend? Do you humbly present you desires and options to God or do you treat prayer as a wishing well? Your daily prayer can simply be “God, please lead me in this. Through your Spirit in me give me love, power, and wisdom here. Show me what you want me to do.” A rich relationship with God via prayer helps you get your priorities right.
- For Non-Christians: You may pray to a higher power or god of your choosing or deny the existence of a spiritual dimension beyond our imagination, but again I refer you to Jesus, the elephant in the room issue that won’t easily go away. Brilliant and perfect Jesus prayed and taught us to pray to His Father. Confusion aside, the life and substance of His insertion into human history and continued presence, not via Religion, but real spiritual encounters, cannot be denied.
3. Surrender to God
The hardest directive is this last one: to surrender lordship and control of your own life. To fully let go of the reins that we hold so tight and release all of one’s life, is the final wall to fall before true, purposeful rehabilitation takes place.
- For Christians: This means to surrender “like a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). All in – old self, dead. Surrendered fully to God. We often give mere intellectual assent to God/Jesus and Christianity; however, in truth we still are in the driver’s seat. Jesus may be next to us, but we’re driving. We need to give Him the keys and actually get in the back seat. He will not drive you off the road. He will drive you to places you never would have gone. Have you truly given up control and surrendered to God? This too is a daily exercise, reminding ourselves and verbally resubmitting ourselves to God in prayer.
- For Non-Christians: this one is hard to wrap your head around. This is really about who’s in control. Christians are to relinquish control to God and they struggle still. Non-believers live off their own power, will and desires. That may or not be working well for you. The bigger question is toward what end? I challenge you to consider Jesus. If nothing else, study the Bible, not books about it. Deal with the text itself about Jesus and let it drive you throughout the New Testament and back into the Old Testament. It’s not a puzzle; it’s a guide for the meaning of life.
Starting the new year with a rejuvenated commitment to Know God, Talk to God, and Surrender to God is really the only thing that ultimately matters in life. This does not mean a submission to a sub-level life. Quite the contrary. It will free you to have the best year of your life, released to your full potential to accomplish the desires of your heart in accordance with a God-led purpose-filled life.
Have you resolved to have a New Year that really matters?
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” – Matthew 16:24-27