For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:19–21)
If we are going to be able to say and believe a statement like this – when we are imprisoned in circumstances that we do not desire – what can we do to have such confidence?
7 Ways to Refocus for the New Year!
Here’s what I do …
- Decide God’s plan is most important for my life.
When all is said and done, far more is said than done. Our actions reveal our convictions. We must decide that Jesus is truly King of our lives and not just an app for our lives.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
Until I decide that I want God’s plan over my plans, nothing happens. I need to draw near to God in surrender if I want to be able to follow His plans.
- Dedicate the last week of December as a time to review / reflect / refocus on God’s will.
If I want to hear God’s voice, I need to silence the outward distractions in my life. The week after Christmas is a great time to do this. I want to know what to do in the New Year, people are returning their gifts this week … so, I can shut down my outward activity and listen to God.
- Determine to listen to God more than I speak to God.
One of the huge things I like to do is take all the verses I have transferred to cards and read them in chronological order of when God spoke to me. As I review what God has been telling me all year, it allows me to hear him much more clearly.
Then, I like to read larger portions of the Word of God – often going back to those passages that these cards were taken from.
Finally, I like to read large chunks of the Gospels again, getting the words of Jesus into my soul.
As I am doing this, I am also doing the next step …
- Delineate the ideas God shares with me on paper.
As I read, as I a pray, as I am in this week especially, I write down everything I possibly can. Many of you know I write cards often. This week is one where I write MUCH MORE than any other week.
I try to capture the voice of God – His will and whim – as I read, pray, walk, sleep (yes, especially when I sleep).
After a week of this, I try to put all of this one a sheet or a few sheets of paper and start to assemble it so it makes sense. This sets me up for the next step, which happens closer to New Years …
- Describe the New Year to myself through God’s promptings listed on my paper.
Once I start to take me cards and assemble them and write them all down, it is important for me to give voice to God’s directions for my life.
As I talk them out, God often adds to, edits, corrects and directs in this process. WOW, this is the most amazing time of the week! God is right there – superintending my life, guiding my thoughts, assuring me of His mission and vision for my life!
If you have never done this, I cannot URGE you enough to walk through this process.
But, I am not done … remember James’ words:
“But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22, HCSB)
Perhaps one of the greatest lessons I have learned is that hearing God’s Word or His Guidance is worthless if I don’t choose to do it!
So, step six becomes so important.
- Detail “next action” steps for the top ideas I sense God wants me to move on in the early part of the coming year.
When I prioritize these – and it takes listening prayer to hear God’s priorities – I begin to see the “map” of the coming year!
Those steps are usually connected – God is working to move me from one to the next, just as we would travel across country on a road trip.
It is God’s journey of faith in my life that I am seeking. And this is such an exciting, mind-blowing step … to think these are the mission critical steps for God’s will and whim in my life – WOW!
Which leads me to them most exciting and empowering step …
- Dig into the new plan and New Year by calendaring the steps I have created.
When I put those action steps onto my calendar, when I make appointments for God from His plan for my life, amazing things happen.
Lives change, people are transformed and I am confident that, despite the current circumstances of my life – even the ones I don’t agree with – God is working.
This fall God drilled a familiar passage of Scripture deeper into my soul than ever before, one He has using for the past couple of months in amazing ways as I have meditated upon it. Paul is speaking in the very same book we quoted at the beginning of this final lesson together. Allow me to share Philippians 2:12–13 with you … from his Roman jail cell, Paul says,
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,
Obedience to the revealed Word of God is essential for anyone’s reward from the King of kings when He returns for us!
I have made it my life mission to obey, and if you know me you know I have only three foci in my life:
- The God of the Word
- The Word of God and
- The Woman God gave me
I seek His will and whim from His Word and then do my best to live those words out every day of my life.
Obedience, especially in stressful circumstances, reveals our faith and trust, our character and integrity to the King of our lives, that’s why Paul continues in Philippians by saying …
… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
Who likes balancing their checkbook? Most people “balance” their checkbook by taking the bank’s word for their balance.
But this doesn’t work and often gets us in overdrafts. We have to have an accurate picture of what no longer exists in our account (what we spent) and what remains (what we haven’t spent yet) before we can work out what we can spend.
And so it is in this life with Jesus!
At all times we need to have an accurate picture of what no longer exists in life – the time we have used up, and what remains before us (God’s plans for the coming days) before we can work out what God longs for us to do with the remaining days of the coming year(s).
These are serious calculations, for if we fail to work things out accurately, we will overdraft our lives by running out of time to accomplish God’s will for our lives.
You see, this is the dynamo and directive that should guide us in 2015 and beyond …
… for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12–13)
Ultimately, God is working in us. The final question is simple:
- Am I working with God for His good pleasure in 2015?
My answer is, “Yes! Despite the circumstances of today.”
What’s your answer?
 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8)
 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)
 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” (Revelation 22:12)