#1 Read the Bible Daily
Romans 15:4 “Whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction so that we could have hope through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures.”
I’ve read the Bible daily in past years, but lately I’ve been so busy with work that I haven’t really had the chance to read a yearly Bible reading plan. I received a “The One Year Chronological Bible (NLT)” for Christmas, so I’m looking forward to reading the Bible again in the new year.
The Bible is written for our encouragement. It’s words were inspired by God (2 Peter 1:19), His truth, and we are told to crave it like a newborn baby craves her mother’s milk (1 Peter 2:2). As 2 Timothy 3:15-17 says, “Since childhood you have known the holy scriptures that help you to be wise in a way that leads to salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus. Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good.”
#2 Make Somebody’s Day – Every Day
Romans 15:2-3 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good in order to build them up. Christ didn’t please himself, but, as it is written, ‘the insults of those who insulted you fell on me’.
Nothing gives me as much happiness as seeing someone encouraged by something I’ve said or done for them. But it’s so easy to become busy, to live in your own moment, and to forget the needs of others. I strive in the new year to focus on helping other people more.
Cook a meal for a friend. Give your parents a call. Compliment your boss. 1 John 1:7 tells us that if we live in the light, then “we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleans us from every sin.” We are told to encourage each other every day because once we stop encouraging each other, that’s when sin’s lies can take root and begin to grow in our lives (and theirs!), making us insensitive to God and His ways. We are only one with Christ if we have confidence in Him. (Hebrews 3:13-14)
#3 Be Kinder Than Last Year’s Me
Romans 15:7 So welcome each other, in the same way that Christ also welcomed you, for God’s glory.
I typically try to be a pleasant person, but if caught in the wrong moment I can be a true grouch. If I’m tired late at night or if I sleep late in the morning, or sometimes if I’m just having a very bad day, it feels like my bark resembles a fiercely snarling guard dog. I never mean what my mood entails when I’m a grump, but what’s said is said and I can’t take it back. That’s why this year I hope to improve my mood and be kinder than before.
We are called to be kind to one another, and to welcome others who are weak in their faith – not to correct them or call them down or brag about your own knowledge, but to encourage them (Romans 14:1). We are called to take care of God’s people, and to give to them when they are in need, and to invite strangers into our homes (Romans 12:13). Galatians 6:10 says “So then, let’s work for the good of all whenever we have an opportunity, and especially for those in the household of faith.”
#4 Find Joy and Peace In All Circumstances
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I was never a melancholy person as a kid, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve started feeling the sense of sadness in my soul; one that reminds me that I’m in the midst of hard times, and the hard times will never reach an end. It’s all very dramatized in my mind, and I know that finding peace and joy in “hard times” is a talent that can be achieved if I can sustain my confidence and my faith in God. So I pray God will help me gain His peace through everything.
If we cling to God and His truth, then we will find joy and peace in all circumstances, both good and bad, because we are assured that we are given encouragement, and we are addressed as sons and daughters of God; even if we are disciplined by God, we are disciplined because He loves us, and wants to correct us so that we may live righteously and be redeemed in Christ. For Paul writes in Philippians 1:11, that “I pray that you will then be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes from Jesus Christ, in order to give glory and praise to God.”
#5 Worry Less, Pray More
Romans 15:33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
This Christmas, my family had to deal with a spot of mold. 2 days before Christmas I was pulling a boardgame out of my closet only to find it completely ruined by hints of fuzz and green. I had to completely clean out my closet so we could spray the spot left on the ceiling by the contaminated game and then spray the closet with a prevention spray. Of course, reading about all the side effects and symptoms of mold leaves me unsettled with a strong concern despite the fact that the spot has been taken care of, but God has always proven to protect us from harm, and so this year, I’m planning on thinking about my worries as little as possible, and will focus on the promises we have been given: the assurance in Christ Jesus.
Jesus promises in Matthew 11:28-30 that if we come to him with all of our worries, then He will take our burdens and give us rest. Yes, our troubles and worries do try to return, but we can rest assured of the fact that we have a place with God. As long as we have faith (2 Corinthians 5:1-10) and remain confident in God’s promise to us, then as Paul says in Philippians 4:13, “I can endure all things through the power of the one who gives me strength.”
#6 Be Content, Not Selfish
Romans 15:1 We who are powerful need to be patient with the weakness of those who don’t have power, and not please ourselves.
Sometimes I catch myself complaining about things, or wishing for things to go my way for a change. Sometimes it feels like I’m being completely ignored in life, like the world around me couldn’t care less about my happiness or my comfort. But… again it’s my overactive imagination trying to trick me; and it’s selfish of me to say “God, you need to do things my way. Your way is too hard.” So I’d like to learn some stronger contentment this year.
We are told that our heart is where our treasures are. (Matthew 6:21), and that’s why we are to lay up our treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20). In this case, I strive to be like Paul, for he says that “I have learned how to be content in any circumstance. I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor.” (Philippians 4:11-12)