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Ready or not, 2017 is here. Whether you partied and played your way into the new year or snoozed as the calendar page turned, we all woke up January first with a fresh start. A new day, new month, and new year. Three hundred sixty-five days ahead; and no mistakes in them yet. (smile)
A year full of fresh hopes and new dreams. How will we live it?
Like many of you, I received a planner for Christmas. Days, weeks, and months carefully laid out before me.
I’m tempted to fill up the spaces with what I’d like to do instead of all I have to do. However, the beautifully engraved cover of my planner inspires me to plan differently. Psalm 37:4 beckons me to a deeper intimacy with God.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
A command with a promise. Finding delight in my relationship with the Lord, above delighting in other things, ensures he will fill me with his desires. Desires that transform my heart to be generous instead of selfish. A desire to overlook offenses instead of cataloging criticism. An ability to live with eternity in mind instead of looking to this world for purpose, pleasure, and plans.
Now, before I fill in my planner, I am challenged to ask…
Lord, what do You want me to do this year?
The Message Bible translates Psalm 37:4 this way,
“Open up before God, keep nothing back; he’ll do whatever needs to be done.”
As believers, there is much to do since we were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” Ephesians 2:10 So then…
- What if every believer kept nothing back from the Lord this year; our time, talents, and resources used for kingdom purposes?
- What if we stopped withholding mercy, grace, and forgiveness and gave them freely? After all, freely we received them.
- What if we entrusted our hearts to God and allowed him to direct our plans, hopes, and dreams?
I am curiously drawn to the goal section of my planner. As a “discouraged perfectionist” I don’t typically like to set goals if I’m not absolutely sure I can reach them. I must confess, I am a wimpy risk taker. However, I am reminded of Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians; “we make it our goal to please him…” 2 Cor. 5:9
So I challenge you to ask along with me…
Lord, how can I please You this year?
- Is there someone I need to reconcile with?
- What bitterness needs rooted out in order for me to live in freedom?
- Are there any idols I am bowing down to, preventing me from loving you with my whole heart?
- Do I worship my lifestyle, my loved ones, or my reputation?
- Am I wrongfully hanging onto a shattered dream or unfulfilled hope?
- What rights am I clinging to, preventing me from accepting your grace-filled plan for my life? The right to eat what I want, when I want? The right to health and happiness? The right to financial freedom?
- Who am I trying to please more than you; myself, family, or friends? Have I placed too much value in what co-workers, neighbors, or church members think?
- Do you want me to go back to Ethiopia, continue in women’s ministry at church, rewrite the bible study on hope? Should I continue to find a publisher for the children’s stories you inspired me write? Or should I concentrate on finishing the book you originally prompted me to write that birthed this blog and other writing adventures?
Challenged and inspired, I am asking the Lord for fresh hope to believe that 2017 will be filled with courage to face the unknowns and strength to obey his calling as he answers my questions. Want to join me? Let me know how I can be praying for you. Let’s make it our goal to please God as we trust him with our hopes and plans for 2017.