Starting the New Year Right

As we begin the New Year, this is a time that we look both to the past and to the future.  We look to the past thinking about where we have been.  We use that past to think about where we want to go in the future.  Are you thinking about your future?  Are you wondering how to grow more in God?  Take these suggestions as a beginning.  You’ll notice that these suggestions focus on our relationship with Jesus.  Begin there and grow with Him.

1. Talk regularly. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “pray continually.” How can a relationship grow without communication?

2. Listen carefully. Relationships where one person does all the talking and the other only listens can get a bit one-sided. Like Samuel, learn to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

3. Set aside time to focus on each other. Make time to spend with God daily, to “be still and know that [he is] God” (Psalm 46:10). Time expresses love.

4. Share words of affirmation. Psalm 22:3 says that God inhabits or is enthroned on our praise. So, when we acknowledge his goodness and faithfulness, it makes a space in our lives for him to enter.

5. Take responsibility and apologize when you’ve done something wrong. Be honest with yourself and with God about the ways you’ve messed up and apologize sincerely. 1 John 1:9 promises that if we do this, God will not only forgive us but also help us avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.

6. Keep talking, even when you’re mad. Even when you are angry, or sad, or frustrated with him, keep talking to God. The whole book of Job is basically Job’s rant at God about how unfair his life is. In the end, God shows up for a personal one-on-one with him. Sometimes, the times we’re angry offer the greatest opportunities for relationship growth.

7. Get to know God’s friends. Hebrews 10:25 reminds us how important it is to gather with fellow believers for encouragement, so make sure you find other people who love God and spend time with them.

8. Trust him enough to let him surprise you. God longs to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20), so you might be surprised at the blessings he has waiting for you!

9. Work on projects together. Although Jesus spent a lot of time teaching the disciples, he also got them actively involved in ministering to others right away. What can you and God do together? Ask him what he has in mind, or look for things he’s already doing that you can join in.

10. Enjoy your relationship with God. Relationships work best when we’re not in them to get something out of the other person, but just because we enjoy being around each other. The heart cry of God in Scripture, from Eden to the wilderness tabernacle to Jesus to the New Jerusalem, is to dwell with his people. He just wants to be with us. He doesn’t want us to be in a relationship with him so we can “get saved;” he wants to save us so we can be in relationship. He doesn’t want us to talk to him so he can answer our prayers; he wants to answer our prayers because he loves us. Focusing on God relationally means shifting our focus to enjoying the time we are able to spend together and cherishing how the relationship grows and deepens over time.

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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