As January 2018 closes, how are you doing with your goals for this year? What are your dreams and intentions? Are you pursuing the things you desire most?
In December of every year, my Bible study shares what we are seeking and asking God for in the New Year. As a refresher, I’ll summarize what I called my 6 B’s of 2017: 1. Be positive. 2. Be thankful. 3. Be calm. 4. Be a blessing. 5. Be strong in the Lord. 6. Be fruitful.
For this year, these are the desires of my heart, my 4 B’s for 2018, followed by some favorite Scriptures and quotes.
1. Be joyful. (Psalm 118:24; Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
It is important to understand that joy-stealers in our fallen world are legion. Lurking around every corner there seems to be a joy-thief just waiting to rob us of “shalom” — the wholeness and peace that God wants us to have. Some of these joy-thieves are nothing more than internal attitudes we have tolerated and lived with for much too long. Some of the joy-thieves are people with whom we really shouldn’t be associating. Some of the joy-thieves are habits (such as too much TV, too many hours at work…or at play) that throw our lives out of balance. The question now is will we do something about it? Will we take the time to study the Word, review the principles, live the truths, and seek the Lord in such a way that our lives will be permanently characterized by joy? — R. Scott Nelson
2. Be loving. (John 13:34-35; John 17:26; 1 John 4:19; 1 Corinthians 13:13)
My old life died in the grave. Only one Life came out of the grave — Christ’s Life. Christ is my Life. Let Him express His life through me on planet earth. The same life in the vine is in the branch. Abide. Meditate, set my mind on, think on — Christ’s life in me. Jesus did not live a life of trying to get, get, get. His life is living from having. Out of abundance. He gives, gives, gives. Am I living to get love? Am I trying everything I can to get love (as a child of God)? Why? I am already totally loved by God! God wants me to live from love. From the never ending well spring of love that’s already in me. To others. Express that life to others in the world. Not passively. But by faith, I let God take over, a living sacrifice to express his life through me to minister to others. — Bill Gillham, abridged quote
3. Be fearless. (Isaiah 41:10; Romans 8:15; 1 John 4:18; 2 Timothy 1:7)
We are not suited for fear, which began for mankind in the garden when Adam and Eve fell away from the presence of God. Before that, they had been filled with confidence and assurance of the future, since they possessed a God. Man was not created to be independent, and in that sense, fear is the result of not staying dependent on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Fear is the friend of sin, Satan, and the world, for it makes us buy insurance, new cars, and investments; constantly focus on money; refuse a risk; and stay at a job we hate. We were created for trust and calm, so fear in our mind, will, and emotions creates sickness in our bodies.
We must become free from fearing anything less than God, and that is simpler than it sounds. We allowed fear in when we were taught it, and now we must invite it out. Fear is not dealt with through endless examination; we can refuse it. Look at fear and ask why we would allow it in our lives. We need to recognize we have a God and then change our minds about letting fear dwell in us. Some East Indians have an interesting way of physiologically dealing with thoughts they seem stuck with but do not wish to entertain: They bat their eyes! They say they cannot continue with a thought while batting their eyes. A change of activities might also help the mind get unstuck from the bad-habit rut of reviewing fearful thought patterns. Invite the fear out verbally, and then go to a mirror, examine the face’s worry lines, and begin to laugh. — Michael Wells
4. Be relaxed and rested. (Matthew 6:34; Philippians 4:6-7; John 16:33; Proverbs 3:24)
As believers we need to remember that if Christ be in us (and He is) then there will be no demands placed upon our life that is not placed upon Christ who lives within us. So, whatever knocks on the door of your life, don’t answer it; ask the indwelling Jesus to answer it and rest in the Life that is Christ’s! As believers we are no longer victims as we have become ‘more than conquerors’ in Christ Jesus. We don’t have to blame others, complain or gripe; we can simply accept our position in Christ, appropriate our true identity and — with Christ’s maturity — we can respond to life from God’s point of view! This is victory … This is peace … This is our rest! Praise God, we are free indeed! — Stoney Shaw
As you lay your head on your pillow tonight, give it all to God, and go to sleep. Then tomorrow, and the day after that, believe that your are a deeply loved and accepted child of God. And, as Bill Gillham has often said, “Be patient with yourself. Experiencing this life in Christ is the way life was meant to be lived. You’ve got life! You have just won the spiritual lottery! Now go spend it hilariously!”