It’s that time again. Just when you finally get used to writing the number “2016,” we are ready for the next; “2017.”
Whether you like to make goals for the new year or not, it is always good to reflect on the past year and look to make some changes in the next.
There are a number of generic goals that I think all Christians would be wise in pursuing or re-pursuing (my reason for a re-pursing or recommitment is that many of us begin our Christian walk with greater zeal for things than we demonstrate years later). It is commendable to set goals to lose weight or to get a new job, but as Christians we should also be looking to stir ourselves up again in faith and action, charity, and communion with God and neighbor.
So, in looking to 2017, here are seven things, among many, that we should recommit (or commit) to pursuing:
1. Seeking unity with other believers
Let’s stop being so nitpicky about secondary doctrine. Let’s stop bashing brothers and sisters in Christ because they sing Chris Tomlin in church or don’t have their children memorize the Shorter Catechism with the thee’s and thou’s. I have been guilty of this in the past. I have cage-staged. By God’s grace I have come to realize at the end of the day that these are indeed blood-bought brothers in Christ. Worship with them. Pray with them. Embrace the fact that your rapture-waiting, free will loving, Hillsong blasting friend loves the Jesus of the Bible and leave it at that. Sure, discuss the issues, but do not let it cause division. Build the kingdom together….well, before the rapture happens of course.
2. Memorize more Scripture
Scripture is living and active. It is God breathed. It has power. It changes lives. We should hide it in our heart and shout it from the roof. Memorizing it should be our goal EVERY YEAR; one verse a week; 52 verses a year. Here is a 5 year list. Or, here is a weekly list specifically for 2017.
3. Read more, and read intentionally
I find that when I am reading on a consistent basis I am more creative, more driven, efficient, and overall more thoughtful. I think most would say the same about themselves.
So this year read abundantly. Read widely. Take notes. Get fired up. Swap books with others and take recommendations.
For 2017, download this list from Tim Challies and choose your adventure. Here’s looking at the Committed Reader goal. Print out the list and start choosing ahead of time which books to read.
In addition, find some weaknesses you have and read up on how to strengthen them. Find some areas of neglect in your life and pick some books to fan that flame. Pick certain themes for the year. If you keep getting visits from Jehovah’s Witnesses, then read about them. If your kids are out of order, read some parenting books. If you are struggling financially, read some financial books. Be proactive.
This is an area where most of us, over time, grow cold. We share the gospel less and less in our search of being accepted or to keep from any discord. In addition, we talk with unbelievers for hours about politics or the problems with same sex marriage without ever sharing Jesus or the absurdity of all of this apart from Him. I, unfortunately, do this often; getting in sometimes heated debates about cultural issues trying to win the argument.
For 2017 forget winning the argument. Instead make every argument swing to the truth and redemption found in Christ. Make 2017 a year of stirring you back into a lifestyle of evangelism. Be reminded that the gospel message is offensive….but ultimately redemptive. Feel at liberty to make people uncomfortable. Evaluate whether everyone seems to like you around, or not. Read some books to stir you up in evangelism again. Here are two I have lined up in order to pursue this with more intention in the next year: Get Real by John Leonard and The Soul Winner by Charles Spurgeon.
5. Significantly decrease your aimless use of technology
We all know that much of our social media use is without purpose. We talk about being more intentional with it, but we rarely act on these words. Just watch this brief, yet powerful video:
No one can deny the harmful effects social media and technology have on our society. It has completely consumed our younger generation (and in many respects the older as well). We no longer need human interaction; it is much easier and suitable to do so virtually.
Now do not close your Facebook account or ditch your phone. Instead take control of them and use them wisely. Redeem them. Create a plan to minimize your time and stick to it. Make your interaction count. Aim to be social in public, in real life, and keep your phone put away. Set a limit on checking Facebook daily. Make a commitment not to look at your phone when you are bored as this has become a natural reflex for most of us. Surprise someone by….. you know…… speaking to them.
6. Husbands, sanctify and cleanse your wives with the word
Jesus has redeemed your wife. You cannot contribute to this. However, Paul tells us to work to further our wives in their sanctification; progressively helping to prepare our wife to one day meet Jesus. All Christian men know this is a priority, but we often fall short. It is a great thing Jesus does not fall short with his bride!
Make it a goal to read Scripture with your wife often in 2017. Read through Christian books together with her and discuss them (here is a start) in 2017. See that she has time to be alone with God; not God and the kids. Encourage her, and aid in helping her seek godly fellowship with other women and growing in holiness.
7. Pray for others with more expectation and faith
God still works miracles through the prayers of his people. God still heals through the prayers of his people. We often complain to others of real issues in our lives and not to God. We are quick to offer counsel to others but we seldom default to prayer; and not a ‘I hope things work out’ kind of prayer, but a ‘let’s ask God to miraculously intervene in your behalf prayer;’ a prayer that ends with mutual faith that God will act on your request. Pray for more people in 2017. Make this a default action.
Today is December 8. Take time to plan and to pray for the upcoming year. Get to it.
What are you pursuing in 2017? Share in the comments below and further the discussion.