Here is the verse that keeps ringing in my ears as we enter into 2014...
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12: 1-2
Seems like everyone is developing their new year's resolutions, but as I've gotten older, I've found my resolutions are fewer and fewer. I suppose I figure I'll just not follow through again so why bother with the new year? However, this year I can't get a friend's comment at bible study out of my head...she said it several years ago...something about how we need to be constantly examining ourselves and moving forward or pretty soon we will piddle the years away and never really grow in our spiritual walk. You may bristle at that thought. Surely, we are more diligent than that! But, I challenge that idea. Consider if we become more and more lax in our prayer life, in our bible reading, in our church attendance, in our helping those in need. Do we then, say five years later, just automatically start seeing everyone in need and helping them generously with all that extra money we've accrued? Do we suddenly take up reading many chapters in the Word a day when we've barely been able to read anything at all? We fall into habits that are hard to break...and my desire, as I enter into 2014, is to develop habits that will strengthen my faith walk. Taking the Hebrews verse, here are some ways we can grow this year:
As I go through my days this next year, I want to remember my God and what He has been faithful to do from 2013 back to the beginning of time. Reading His living Word reminds me of His faithful promises that are never broken, of His faithful provision to those in the Bible and to us now. And, as the first phrase of the Hebrews passage says, I want to remember that I'm not alone. God is with me and we are also surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses! We have a cheering section of faithful saints who have gone before us! How often do we feel all alone...and in that alone feeling we give up, we sin, we become discouraged. But, that feeling is a lie. We Are Surrounded.
2. Slaying sin.
Just as violently as David slayed the giant, so we must go forward into the upcoming year slaying the sins in our lives. Every time I hold onto those 'wicked pets', every time I get distracted by stroking those evil desires, every time I trip up over the lures of my sin, my faith walk is hindered. If I'm not examining myself regularly, I may think I'm going along just fine. We all tend to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, but the reality says that our sins are making this race toward heaven full of pits and obstacles that are only delaying our focus on Christ and our work in the Kingdom. Fight the battle against sin hard and daily.
3. Looking to Jesus.
As we keep our eyes fixed on Him, we are strengthened to run this race. We are strengthened to fight our sin. He is One who has 'been there and done that'. He gets our troubles and temptations. But, just as we have that cheering section of saints, we also have the One who gave us this faith and Who will complete our faith and He is the One who is sitting at the right hand of God interceding on your behalf! As you're running the race and you're side-lined by the enemy's accusations, remember that Jesus is telling God that you are clothed in HIS righteousness now. If you're going along in this faith walk and you become weary and want to give up, look to Jesus who joyfully endured the weariest of all walks up the hill of the Skull. And, the sin that threatens to ensnare you? Even that is understandable to our Savior because we are told that we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses; He was tempted in every way as we are, yet He did not sin. Look to Him.
I hope we can all reflect back a year to 2012 and see the spiritual growth God has done in our lives. Hopefully, we can look back to 2008, five years ago, and hardly recognize ourselves spiritually compared to now. Time goes so quickly. Be earnest to grow and to soak in all that God has to teach you. Do not waste a single moment.
Happy New Year! Love, Wendy