We’re already several days into 2016. Many people are trying hard to keep their New Year’s resolutions. If you’ve failed at one or more of your resolutions, I want to comfort and challenge you. Many New Year’s resolutions are based on what we can do. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing (Jn. 15:5). However, as Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Relying on Christ is the way to grow, improve, and succeed in 2016!
I appeal for you to ponder on and practice the following seven spiritual behaviors. These behaviors (practiced with a Christ-like attitude and spirit) can transform your life, marriage, family, career, relationships, school, and church in 2016. And in case you thought I forgot, you’re walk with Jesus will be more intimate and deeper, too.
- Spend more time in the Bible. In 2016, I challenge you to hold a Bible in your hands more than you do a remote control. God’s Word is true, alive, and relevant. Consistent time in the Bible requires discipline, tenacity, and surrender. Your time in God’s Word will reach new levels as you read from an accurate translation and give the Lord the best time of your day. More time in the Bible may mean that you invest twenty minutes a day in the Word rather than fifteen minutes. My appeal isn’t for you to get through the Bible in a year. My prayer is for the Bible to get through you!
- Learn how to pray God’s way. In order for God’s people to grow and mature in the faith, a strong prayer life is essential. Jesus prayed daily and before making major decisions (Mk. 1:35). One day Jesus was praying and His disciples saw and heard Him talking with the Father. Their request was straightforward and priceless: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk. 11:1). Is your prayer life all that God desires? Have you ever asked Him to teach you how to pray? One of the greatest discoveries of the Christian faith is learning how to pray God’s way. He is the expert practitioner and teacher!
- Connect with a Sunday School/Bible study class. God created His people to live in community. Therefore, you and I need one another! Small groups allow us to love upward, inward, and outward! Your church offers Sunday School classes for all ages and gender-focused Bible study classes. You can find more details about these Bible study groups at bradfordville.org or by calling the church office. My heart rejoices to see more and more of you participating in a small group Bible study.
- Increase giving to a higher percentage. God isn’t stingy; He’s generous! He gave His only Son to rescue us from spiritual death and darkness (Jn. 3:16). Many people say the church is only interested in money. That’s simply not true! It’s true that Jesus talked more about money than He did about heaven and hell. He wants us to be givers, not takers. This year is a great time for us to increase our percentage giving. Givers who give 2% can increase their giving to 4%. Givers who give 8% can increase their giving to 10%. Increasing our percentage giving allows the church to fund ministries and take the Gospel to the nations. Let’s be faithful stewards of God’s blessings!
- Ask God for opportunities to share the Gospel. God has called us to be witnesses (Acts 1:8). Who needs to hear about Jesus from you this year? Sharing Jesus doesn’t mean that we have to be forceful or manipulative with people. All God asks of you and me is to be available. He’ll open doors; He’ll provide opportunities; and He’ll orchestrate our steps. One of the greatest joys in life is being used of God to introduce His Son to loved ones, friends, classmates, colleagues, and neighbors. I hope you’ll pray and share Jesus with courage and clarity in 2016.
- Find times to rest and personalize solitude. Life is busy and noisy most days. It’s imperative to slow down and rest. Are rest and solitude normal for you? Following an intense period of ministry, Jesus invited His disciples to pull away from the crowds and rest (Mk. 6:30-32). It’s not for God’s glory to say that a brother or sister in Christ burned-out in ministry. That’s not the pace and rhythm that God desires from His servants. In 2016, may you and I be regular and intentional to find a place of solitude and rest!
- Love the Lord and His church by being faithful. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15). Jesus gave His life for the church. Therefore, you and I need to be faithful to His bride. You and I love the Lord and His church by being faithful in our attendance, giving, and involvement. In order for Bradfordville to reach another level in ministry, faithfulness isn’t optional for members. I encourage you to be faithful to Jesus and His church in 2016.
May 2016 be the year the Lord uses us to love Him, one another, and people in our city and around the world!
Seeking His Face and Favor!