from Virtuous Daughters, February 2006~Volume 5, Number 11
Almost everyone likes new beginnings! From new babies, to little chicks, to a new day, there is something exciting and inspiring about the phrase “a new beginning.” As the year opens, how are you going to begin it? Since we are Christians, bought with Jesus’ blood and saved by His grace, we should want to please Him in everything we do. How would He want you to begin this new year?
From the Bible, we can see what God’s desires are for those who are His children. First of all, He wants us to learn to love Him as much as we possibly can. Mark 12:30 “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.”
Second, He wants us to give up all to follow Him. Luke 14:33 “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” See also 2nd Corinthians 5:15.
Third, He wants us to grow in our love towards Him. Hebrews 6:1 “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.” See also Philippians
So, as Christians, these are three things that we can ALL work on this year! These are God’s desires for us! He has promised to give us strength to fulfill everything that He wants us to do. So as you think of things that you would like to do in this new year, ask the Lord Jesus to give you His strength to apply each one of these to your life that you may be more fruitful for Him.
“But,” you may ask, “how can we live this out? What are some practical ways to grow in the Lord and learn to love Him more?”
Here are some things that I have done that have been helpful for me to “get things in perspective” at the beginning of a new year.
Practical Insights to Help Each of Us Start off the New Year in the Right Way
1. Rededicate yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ. The first and greatest new beginning begins when you accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation and make Him Lord of your life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” However, it is often very beneficial (especially if you became a Christian at a young age) to rededicate your life to the
Lord. Purpose to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and out of your great love for Him, to obey Him at all cost. “The cost of obedience is high, but the cost of disobedience is higher!” Don’t ever make yourself pay the higher cost! It
isn’t worth it!
2. Read thru the Bible. The benefits of spending time in God’s Word daily are so valuable. The Bible was given to us as a whole, and it is extremely beneficial to
read and study it as a whole. How wonderful it is to see God’s marvelous plan of redemption throughout history, and how He rewards those who diligently seek
Him! The best way to see this is to read thru the Bible from cover to cover. Our family read the Bible out loud together this past year and it was a great blessing to us. I also do this in my own personal Bible time. You can read it straight thru, chronologically (in the order it was written), or read some from the Old Testament
and some from the New Testament each day. However you do it, if you read three chapters a day and five on Sunday you will finish it in about a year. While this may seem like a big challenge, the benefits are marvelous and generational. Start this habit in your youth, and it will be a great blessing to you all your life. However, even if you decide not to read the Bible thru this year, I would strongly encourage you to read the Scriptures every day. When I was thirteen years old, I promised the Lord that I would read the Bible for at least five minutes every day. This guaranteed that no matter how busy I was, I would always reserve at least that much time for the Lord
every day. Remember, the more time you spend with the Lord in His Word, the more He will reveal Himself and His commandments to you. When you are in your youth and maybe don’t have as many responsibilities as you will when you are older, purpose to spend much time now reading the Bible and storing it in your heart where it can never be lost! Matthew 7:24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
3. Read a God-honoring book. At the beginning of every year, I always read the classic allegory Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. It encourages me in
my relationship with the Lord Jesus, my Shepherd, and helps me not to lose heart on my journey to “the high places.” I would highly recommend it. Of course there
are many other writings that I am sure would make wonderful-start the year out-books as well. I would suggest something true or an allegory instead of a fictitious
work. Biographies or autobiographies are also great choices. The goal is simply a book that will refresh and encourage you as you seek to continue to strengthen
your walk with the Lord Jesus. Pilgrim’s Progress would be another wonderful one!
4. Express gratefulness. It is always good to be thankful! Over and over the Bible encourages us to show gratefulness. I have always especially liked how the
Apostle Paul showed gratefulness to specific ones in a lot of his letters. One thing that I like to do is write “New Year Cards.” I often start writing them during the
middle of the month of December. The basic idea is writing to certain ones that have benefited my life in the past year and expressing my gratefulness for them. For
some people it is just something like smiling! Then of course there are people that I have MUCH to be grateful for!:) I usually make a list and try to finish by the end of
the year. This is just one way; you could also verbally say it. But they can keep a note for a long time! You can do this for family members, church leaders, friends,
grandparents, music teachers, government leaders, and of course, the Lord Jesus. :) This always helps me to have a more grateful spirit and focus on others instead
5. Remove distractions for a time. It is often very beneficial to remove certain distractions for a time to focus more fully on growing closer to the Lord. We see
Jesus’ example of this many times when He would withdraw from the multitudes to pray, and especially when He spent forty days fasting in the wilderness. I think that we should follow our Lord’s example in this. Seek His guidance and your parents’ counsel on what distractions you should remove. These “distractions” are not necessarily anything bad or something you will never do again. They are simply things that you will set aside for a specified amount of time. Some examples would be: reading nothing else besides the Bible, fasting (or another form of fasting, such as no sugar or cooked foods), or getting up early and not sleeping late. You could do something like this for the whole month of January. Remember to follow the Lord’s leading and your parents’ counsel. This is not something to do to “be more spiritual” or “make yourself suffer for the cause of Christ.” It is simply going without something for a time to focus more on the Lord and seeking His will.
6. Choose something worthwhile to improve on. This could be a sibling relationship,
a specific character quality, or a discipline of the Christian life. Whatever you choose, make sure it is something that is worthwhile to invest time in. Seek the Lord’s direction and your parents’ counsel on this one too.
1 Corinthians 3:13–15 “Each one’s work will become clear; for the day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work, which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” The Lord will test all of our work that we have down on earth, and if it passes the test of fire, we will receive a reward. What treasures in heaven are you laying up for yourself today? “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”—Philippians 1:9–11
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