Friday, December 30, 2016

A New Year, A New You!

     If you have spent any time watching T.V. commercials over the past week, I guarantee that they have been filled with promises for the new year ahead of us.  Promises of weight loss, a new cream to make us look our best or that "must have" new car so we can drive in style are just some of the many things we hear this time of the year.  We all want a new start each year and we often make resolutions to do some of the things the commercials suggest.  However, within days or weeks, we find that we have already quit on a number of our self-made promises.  For Christians, this includes trying to read the Bible through in a year.  Sadly, we just never seem to get this done, but that doesn't mean we should not try.
Butterflies offer us a symbol of change that is beautiful!
     Weight loss, a new car, a new look are all wonderful goals to shoot for, but nothing will change you as much as a concerted effort to read God's Word on a daily basis.  Listen to what Hebrews says about the Bible in chapter 4 verse 12:  "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."  Here the author is telling us that God's Word is both active and living.  To me, this means that I can read it over and over again and the Holy Spirit will bring out something I had missed before to apply to my life.  Furthermore, God's Word is so sharp that it pierces deeply into my being discerning my thoughts and heart intentions.  As a result, it can show me my sin that I may repent.  I love to read but I know of no other book with that type of power and ability.  This is truly a God given, God breathed instrument of change to those who seriously study it.
     In his letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:16), the Apostle Paul tells this young pastor how valuable the Bible is to us:  "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,...."  If we yearn to mature in our faith, then we have the perfect tool for that.  The Bible will teach us and correct us in our thinking as well as in our actions.
     According to the New York Times of June 30, 2016, the average person watches about five hours of T.V. a day.  Certainly that is a good deal of time when we could be doing something more constructive.  Yet, the greatest danger from spending all that time watching programs is that they all have a worldview.  The shows all expound a philosophy even if it is not clearly stated.  What we watch affects how we think about life and those around us.  Recently, we have been hearing stories about "fake news" being put out to confuse people and increase their unhappiness with individuals or groups.  We also know that some news outlets are very one-sided in their presentation of news.  With this in mind, we need a foundation of truth that will keep our thinking Christ-minded not worldly minded.  The Bible will do that for us if we will open its pages prayerfully and diligently day after day.  Romans 12:2 tells us:  "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."  When we spend countless hours on social media and television, we are absorbing ideas from many different sources.  Some may be true, but we will never be able to recognize that unless we are students of God's Word.
      Psalms rightly tells us:  "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). We are less likely to stumble and fall in darkness if we have the light of truth to show us the way.  In addition, Jesus, Himself, in His high priestly prayer, asked the Father this:  "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:17).  We could go on and on showing the value of God's Word, but the key is to read it daily with the intention of heart to learn from it.  So, how do we go about this?
     There are a number of sites such as that offer free Bible study reading plans for the coming year.  Likewise has numerous devotional books which will help you read through the Bible.  The key is to find what suits your schedule and set a time each day to spend with the Lord both in prayer and reading His Word.  If we ask the Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us, He will do that as we read.
     If we are serious about making some good changes in the coming New Year, we need to make this a top priority.  Whether we study alone, with our spouse or friends, or as a family, we will reap the rewards that come from time before our Heavenly Father in His Word.  May you enjoy a blessed and happy New Year sitting at the feet of our Lord.  Selah!

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