Guidance and Direction for the Coming Year!

Looking Back at 2015!

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A new year!  As we look back at 2015, hopefully we all can say “It’s been a good year.”  Whether the year was a good one for you or not so good, we probably all can think of events that we would have handled differently if we could do it over.  Times when we wish we had remained silent – or maybe wish we had spoken up.  Times when we wish we had not attended that event – or maybe wish we had gone to an event.  Times when we wish we had loved more – times when we wish we had pulled back from a relationship.

Looking back we can always see areas in our lives where we could have done a better job of communicating, sharing, being brave, being restrained.  But the year is past.  What’s done is done.  Like Paul, the apostle, we need to say:

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.  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,  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Now the New Year has arrived!

This is a time we often make new year resolutions.  We are going to work harder (or devote less time at work and more at relaxing), we are going to lose weight, we are going to be more faithful in our Bible reading, our exercising.  The list often goes on and on.

Top Ten New Year Resolutions

Here is one list of top ten New Year Resolutions

  1. Miss more time with family and friends
  2. Exercise – get in shape
  3. Lose weight
  4. Quit smoking
  5. Relax and enjoy time more
  6. Quit drinking
  7. Get out of debt
  8. Learn something new
  9. Help others
  10. Get organized

New Year Resolutions for the “Super Heroes”

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For many of us a New Year’s Resolution might look like this

My goal for 2016 is to accomplish the goals I had for 2015 which I should have done in 2014 because I promised myself I would do them in 2013 after much planning for them in 2012.

A worthy New Year’s Resolution

While it is always good to have goals for the coming year – may I suggest a goal that would really be of the greatest benefit in 2016 – a resolution to not just read, but really study the Word of God this year.

God’s Word is an excellent instruction manual for our lives.  Manual

 

 

There has been so much violence and discord in our country in 2015.  Who knows what the coming year will bring.  But, whether this year sees peace or war, prosperity or difficult financial times, excellent health or too many trips to the doctor, we can find strength in God’s Word.

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.   Joshua 1:8

How can a young person stay pure?
    By obeying your word.
 I have tried hard to find you—
    don’t let me wander from your commands.
 I have hidden your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119

There are so many aids and helps in learning more about God’s Word.  One of the greatest ways to get into God’s Word is an organized, consistent reading plan.

There are excellent plans out there.  Visit biblegateway.com for a listing of many that can be sent directly to your mail each day.

Each day includes a passage from both the Old Testament and New Testament.
Read the Bible in the chronological order in which its stories and events occurred.
Read the Bible from start to finish, from Genesis to Revelation.
Read the books of the Bible as they were written historically, according to the estimated date of their writing.
An intensive Bible reading plan that walks through the entire Bible in 90 days.
Read through the four Gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John–in 40 days.
Read the New Testament from start to finish, from Matthew to Revelation.
This reading plan is provided by Brian Hardin from Daily Audio Bible.
Daily Old and New Testament readings based on the Book of Common Prayer.
Short readings from throughout the Bible that focus on the meaning and events of Easter.
40 daily Scripture readings that illustrate the character of God and the nature of faith.
Scripture passages that focus on the meaning of Advent and Christmas.
A reading plan that walks through the entire New Testament in 24 weeks of daily readings.
A daily inspirational and encouraging Bible verse.
Daily Bible readings that follow the church liturgical year, with thematically matched Old and New Testament readings.
Daily Bible readings that follow the church liturgical year, with sequential stories told across multiple weeks.
The classic M’Cheyne plan–read the Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalms or Gospels every day.
Read through the book of Proverbs every month of the year.

Check them out!

 

Twenty-one Days to a New Me?????

I have never been one to make New Year resolutions.  My experience has been that most New Year resolutions are broken before the first week in January is over.

But this year is different.

As 2014 came to an end, I found in my spirit that there were areas in my life I needed, with God’s help, to change.  Some were spiritual matters and others were physical.

So on January 1 I wrote down a list of resolutions for 2015.  I made four commitments to myself:

Two physical changes:

  1. To begin a walking program – slowly increasing the time/distance and frequency.
  2. To eat in a more healthy way – not dieting or eliminating anything from my diet – but not going back for seconds, limiting the amount of soda and sweets – slowly changing my eating habits.

Two spiritual changes:

  1. To spend more time in the Word of God – not a set time or amount to read – but a consistency of daily time in the Word.
  2. To spend more time in prayer – not just some “bless me and my family” kind of prayer but intercessory prayer for others as I see and hear of needs both in my community and around the world.
  3. To make myself more aware of what is going on in the world through websites such as Wycliffe Bible Translators, Compassion International, Voice of the Martyrs, and Martyrs-Persecution so I better know how to pray.

Do I share?

At first I was not going to share with anyone my resolutions – after all it is a personal thing and who really cares anyway what I decide to do or not to do.  Isn’t it a little arrogant to think the world cares about my resolutions?

Accountability

But I have decided I want some way to hold myself accountable.  Maybe by sharing with others in a public fashion, I will be encouraged to keep going when I might get discouraged and decide to call it quits.

So far – so good

It is now 15 days into 2015.   So far – so good.  But have I already formed a new habit?  How long will that take?  It has been said that if you do something for 21 days, it becomes a habit.  However, that statement is not based on any solid evidence.

While I like the “21 days” idea, I’m not sure it’s that easy.  Sounds good because I would love to change my life in just three weeks.

But is it true?

Reading on the subject, I found a study published in European Journal of Social Psychology by  Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London trying to determine just how long it takes to form a habit.

The answer?

On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic.  The time involved also depends on the behavior, the person and the circumstances.

The truth?

It will take me more than 21 days to really make these resolutions a real life change.

I don’t have to be perfect!

The study also found that making a mistake now and then does not impact changing my long-term habits.  So – I don’t have to pressure myself – I can do it.

And I count on the strength of the Lord!

My life verse will keep me going/

For I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.