While many people are running around, making their New Year’s Resolutions, the Lord placed it on my heart to talk about some “Christ centered Resolutions”. As nice as New Year’s Resolutions are, they are difficult to maintain AND they generally put the focus squarely on ourselves. Now, there’s nothing at all wrong with getting in shape, losing weight, quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol or caffeine, or even reading more books; however, most of our Resolutions fall by the wayside after just a few weeks. I don’t know about you, but whenever I focus exclusively on myself, I feel a lot more anxiety and stress. We think that focusing on our own personal needs will make us feel better, but it often seems to have the opposite effect. That is particularly true when we focus on our flesh. I can never live up to the image I’ve set in my mind on what I’m supposed to be like. I’ll never be “thin enough’, young enough, hip enough, intelligent enough, or even “good” enough. Even as a Christ follower, I don’t measure up to what I think I should be, or to other “Christ followers”. What am I doing? Seeking perfection? No wonder I feel so stressed.
What if, instead of making New Year’s Resolutions, we made Christ centered Resolutions? What if we brain-stormed a few ways that we could live out the New Year, 2020, more focused on Jesus, and less on ourselves. What would that look like?
Matthew 6:6: But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
PRAYER: What about Prayer? The Bible says that we should pray without ceasing. For many of us, that just seems impossible. What if we’re working, or busy with our day to day activities, how do we “pray without ceasing?” We could start by just keeping Jesus as a whisper on our lips throughout the day. This means that when we wake up, the first thing we do is think of Jesus. Hello Jesus, Thank You for a new day. It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out prayer. Just a small prayer of thanks for a new day. Another thing to add would be that when we see someone in need, stop and say a small prayer for that person. It can be a prayer that is not said out loud, but to ourselves. Just a silent prayer to God. Did you know that Jesus can HEAR our thoughts? Yes, He is omnipotent and omniscient because He is the Creator. How about quiet prayers of Thanksgiving for the blessings that our Father brings into our lives every day, blessings of food, water, shelter, family, health, love? We call this an “attitude of gratitude”, and it goes a long way to lifting our spirits on a cloudy day. Saying prayers to ask for healing, protection, wisdom, conflict resolution, and provision, for ourselves or others, let’s Him know that He is completely on the Throne of our lives. It’s okay to ask for help with our own personal problems. Jesus is our best friend, and He wants us to come to Him with all of our needs, large or small. It’s always a good idea to end our day with a good night prayer. Just saying goodnight to Jesus, and thanking Him for all that He has done for us that day, is a beautiful and restful thing to do at the end of the day, before we lay our heads upon our pillows.
FASTING: What are some other ways we can be more Christ centered in the New Year? How about Fasting? Have you ever given up anything for Jesus? We could give up food for a day, or for two or even 3 days. We could do a 21 day Daniel fast, eating only fruits and vegetables. If we find it too hard to give up actual food, we could perhaps give up something that we enjoy..for a day, a week, or whatever amount of time we feel Holy Spirit is calling us to do. There is no set rule. When we give up something for Jesus, we’re telling Him that He is more important to us than anything in this world. We will have multiple corporate opportunities to fast throughout the year. The Church has a 40 day Lenten period, where it is customary to give something up. There are also Old Testament Feast Days, Yom Kippur, Fasting Bread and yeast during Unleavened Bread, etc. The beautiful thing about Fasting is that there is no real command…we can do it as the Spirit moves us.
Keeping Sabbath: Actually, as I’m writing this, it’s after sunset on a Friday night. Sabbath is really sunset to sunset, Friday to Saturday. But Jesus is LORD of the Sabbath, so it’s not about Legalism. God created us to be in relationship with Him, and one of the ways that we draw near to Him is to REMEMBER His Sabbath, a single day of rest, relaxation, and worship, and draw near to Jesus on that day. Keeping the Sabbath Holy in a way that suits your lifestyle is a wonderful way to draw near to Jesus, and stay Christ-centered throughout the New Year. Setting a single day apart as SPECIAL to the Lord, for the purpose of focusing on Jesus, will bring REJUVENATION and REFRESHMENT to our souls.
Reading God’s Word: God’s Word is food for our souls. We speak to God through Prayer, and He speaks to us through His Word. God’s Word is a super important part of making Christ the center of our lives. God REVEALS Himself through His Word. This Blog centers around Jesus Christ, whose TRUE CHARACTER is revealed in His Word. Perhaps we read just a verse or two a day, if we don’t have time to read alot. Or, there is even a Bible App for the phone (Youversion), that provides the verse of the day (this Blog also has a verse of the day). There are also devotionals that can be mailed directly to email such as Our Daily Bread Devotional.
Mark 12:31: “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Random Acts of kindness and generosity: God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. So often we think, wow, we have to work in an official Church ministry, or do something really spectacular, but really, this can be a very simple thing to do. When we’re kind to our neighbor, when we bless a family member, when we go out of our way to help someone that the Lord brings across our path, we’re fulfilling this commandment. We don’t have to change the world, but we can sometimes change the world for one person. My mother once told me that my great grandmother used to say that if everybody lit just one little candle, the world would be a much brighter place. In today’s world of coldness and cruelty, a small, random act of kindness can mean the world to someone. We may be the only example of Jesus that a person sees in this world. We are ambassadors for Christ, so we want to represent Him well.
FORGIVENESS: Unforgiveness is like poison in our systems, and can really harm our relationship with Jesus. Forgiveness is a choice, more than a feeling. It is really hard to forgive when someone has wronged us; however, hanging onto hurt feelings and pain only hurts ourselves. God wants to wipe away that pain. Perhaps this is the year to forgive that person who we’ve never been able to forgive before. This doesn’t necessarily mean inviting them back into our lives, especially if the person is toxic or dangerous, but this does mean releasing the bitterness, anger, and sorrow to Jesus and allowing Him to heal the wounds that the person may have caused.
BE STILL and know that JESUS is GOD: God still commands us to BE STILL. Sometimes, when perhaps you are having a rough or hectic day, stop for just a few moments, and consider Christ. Just stop, let the wheels stop for a moment, and just be still. Take time to appreciate the beauty of nature. Perhaps listen to some beautiful, Christian music, worship music. Soak in the beauty of a sunset, a butterfly, or even a snowflake. God speaks to us through His beautiful Creation. Even the Wind and waves still know His Name.
Worship and Praise: There are many ways to worship God. We can do this in Church; however, Jesus can be praised and worshiped anywhere. Because He lives inside of the Believer, the Redeemed, we can Praise and worship Jesus in our homes, while on a walk, in our cars, in the shower, pretty much anywhere. I’ve heard it said that music is one of the highest forms of worship. The Psalms, the longest book of the Bible, is a book of music. Singing songs of Praise to Jesus honors Him. Sharing the Gospel with someone who doesn’t know Jesus, is part of the Great Commission, but it’s also a way to Praise and honor Jesus. Watching for His soon return is another form of worship. There are many ways to worship Jesus.
Turn from sin and clear out the clutter: Sometimes we know very well where there is sin in our lives, and sometimes it is less clear. If you are engaged in something that you know is sin, ask Jesus to help you overcome it. Ask Him to provide you the “back door”, the way out. Ask Him for strength, and the ability to go a different direction. I’ve done this before, and I will tell you that Jesus showed up that very day in a very tangible way. Repentance is a sweet smelling aroma to our King. It takes humility to admit we’ve done (or are continuing to do) something wrong. God LOVES a humble heart. If we have something in our life that may have become an idol, whether it be materialism, vanity, pride, addictions, career, even family can become an idol, try releasing it to God and see what He does. Jesus Christ can help us overcome addictions, He can help us put the other things, such as money, career, and even family, back into a proper perspective, with Him at the center. Be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, who can both help us identify where we’ve fallen short and also help us to overcome.
These are just a few suggestions on how to make some Christ centered Resolutions for the New Year. Many people are running around, making the flesh the focal point of the New Year Resolution, when it’s our spiritual needs that are most important. Jesus tells us to seek first His Kingdom, and all of the other things will be added to us. When we place our focus on CHRIST and OFF of SELF, we will begin to feel FREE! Focusing on SELF can be like a prison that we can’t escape from, but Jesus can set us FREE.
As a quick reminder, We shouldn’t approach these suggestions as a MUST DO, or as an OBLIGATION, but perhaps as just some ideas on how we can better make Christ the Center of our life. Jesus already won the Battle for our soulS AT THE CROSS! We are already RIGHTEOUS or in Right Standing before Almighty God, so WE SHOULD NOT enter into Christ Centered Resolutions with the intention of becoming more righteous or more Holy. Jesus accomplished that for us at the Cross, so we can have FREEDOM in how we approach Him. He loves our attention and companionship, and He is so worth our affection. Our names are inscribed on the palms of His Hands!
What if you thought that Jesus thinks of you every single moment of every day? What if you thought that everything He does is to make sure that you finish your race with a gold star? To Jesus, you are the most important person in the world. If you had been the only person in the world, He would have still DIED TO SAVE YOU! That doesn’t mean that He loves another less, but that DOES mean He loves you more. Each of us can be BEST FRIENDS FOREVER with JESUS, and unlike man, He will NEVER, EVER let us down. For us humans, we think that LOVE DIVIDES..meaning that it can be spread “too thin”…but that’s not the way of God. In God’s economy, LOVE MULTIPLIES, the MORE people that GOD LOVES, the MORE HE CAN LOVE. God’s love just keeps’s multiplying to infinity. That is the God that we serve.
We are not under law, but under Grace. We can go boldly before the Throne of God, and He hears our prayers. God loves us with an everlasting love, and He longs to be in a closer relationship with each one of us.
Let’s let 2020 be a year in which we draw ever closer to our SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST.
God Bless and Happy, BLESSED New Year!