We’re only one week into the new year, but I’ve already read about more resolutions than I care to remember. I’ve broken one resolution already, but I don’t want to talk about it.
So I won’t bore you with the same old things you’ve already read somewhere else…maybe.
This past Sunday I spoke at our church on “4 Things to Focus on in 2017.” If you’d like to listen you can CLICK HERE.
While there are a number of things you could focus on this year, I believe these 4 things will lay the foundation for everything else.
1. Spend more time with God
Now I realize there’s almost no more cliche thing for a Pastor to tell you than to spend more time with God. But I wouldn’t tell you, if I didn’t believe it.
Pastor Chris Hodges tweeted recently,
“2017 will be the best year of your life if it’s the best year spiritually.”
I genuinely believe this to be true.
Pick a Bible Reading Plan and stick to it. Commit to pray daily. Be in Church. Surround yourself with people who are growing in their relationship with the Lord.
Look at this from the book of Matthew.
Matthew 14:22-23 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone,
If Jesus knew it was important to spend time with the Father, you and I should too.
2. Trust God More
It’s an amazing thing that God forgives our sins and saves us. I am so thankful that He is my Savior. But did you know that He also wants to be Lord of your life? He wants to lead and guide and direct our lives. Who better to do that, than the One who is writing our story?
Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not in your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”
Maybe the greatest thing you could do in 2017 is trust God beyond your ability to figure it all out.
3. Forgive more
The 1st two really focused on you and God. The 3rd thing I think you and I should focus on more in 2017 is forgive more. Look at this:
Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
I don’t think the point Jesus was making is that you have to forgive someone 77 times, but once they do wrong for the 78th time you can write them off. I think He was trying to make the point that we should be a forgiving people.
It has been said that “Forgiven people forgive people” but I’m not sure that’s always the case. I know a lot of “christians” who can’t, or won’t, forgive others.
Jesus tells a story later in Matthew 18 about a man who owes 10,000 pieces of gold. The king calls the man in to pay his debt, but the man says, “I don’t have it to pay.” So the king orders that his wife and kids be thrown into prison until he can pay it. He begs and the king relents and cancels the debt. The man gets up and goes outside where he bumps into a guy who owes him 100 bucks. He asks for it, but the man says “I don’t have it.” So he orders that the man be thrown in jail. The king is informed about this man who was forgiven much but refused to forgive and he has him thrown in jail and tortured. That story leads me to ask this question of me and you.
What if we could only receive as much forgiveness as we gave?
The last focus for this year is
4. Pray Big Prayers
In the book of Joshua there is an amazing story.
The children of Israel have captured Jericho and defeated Ai. So the kings in the area get scared thinking that they might be next. So they band together to protect themselves and they attack the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites call out to Joshua for help and he leads them on a march all night to come to the Gibeonites’ rescue. When they get there, they attack, defeat the enemy and chase them down. Then we read one of the most amazing passages in the entire Bible.
Joshua 10:12-15 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel! Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.
I know sometimes when we read the Bible there is a temptation to think, “well that was back then, this is now, that can’t happen anymore.” But what if you started praying big prayers just on the off chance that God could actually answer them?
Pastor Mark Batterson doesn’t call them Big Prayers, he calls them Bold Prayers. He says “God honors bold prayers, because bold prayers honor God.”
I know it doesn’t work like this, but I want to pray the kind of prayers that gets God’s attention in heaven. Prayers so bold He has to stop what He’s doing to make sure He heard me correctly. Again, I know that’s not even theologically correct, but it sure does illustrate how I want to live my life this year. I’ve been asking myself the following question to get me started.
What could I ask God for that makes me a little bit nervous?
Maybe you could ask yourself the same thing as you focus on
Spending More Time with God
Trusting God More
Forgiving More, and
Praying Bigger Prayers!
Happy New Year!