January 1, 2017
by Peter Amsterdam
As the old year is being ushered out and the new year is arriving, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions, committing to pursue plans which will improve their lives in some way. I’ve done this myself in years past, but like the 92% of those who make resolutions and fail to keep them, my New Year’s resolutions have generally evaporated by the end of January. For the past few years, instead of making specific resolutions, I’ve tried to set general goals to accomplish throughout the year, and this has worked better for me.
When praying about the advent of 2017 and what goals to map out, I felt led to take a different approach. I set my phone to remind me on the first of each month to review my commitment to living in alignment with my faith. To help me in that review, I wrote out a list of key truths of faith which I feel are vital to Christian living. I also wrote a list of questions I will reflect on and answer, and a third list of some reminders I want to review at the beginning of each month. (The questions and reminders I’ve included here are things I wrote for myself, and so they’re in the first person. My prayer is that they will be useful to you in some way.)
- God is my Creator, the Supreme Being.
- As His creation, I am called to honor and worship Him.
- He loves me and wants me to be in relationship with Him.
- He’s made that relationship possible through Jesus dying for my personal sins.
- Because of Him, I have eternal life.
- I love Him for this and am grateful for my salvation.
- He is present in my life. His Holy Spirit dwells within me.
- I am called to live in a way which glorifies and reflects Him.
- I am to love others as I love myself and treat them as I want to be treated.
- The choices I make have an effect on my eternity.
- I am committed to living in alignment with the teachings of Scripture.
- Does the way I’m living glorify God? Do I strive to align my actions with His Word and to avoid things that are contrary to His Word? If I’m acting contrary to God’s Word, what am I doing about it?
- Have I been worshipping and honoring Him sufficiently? Have I been setting aside time for this, as well as spontaneously praising and glorifying Him?
- How is my relationship with Him? Do I spend time in His presence through prayer and reading His Word? Do I take time to listen to Him and think about what He has said?
- Have I been attentive to what He’s shown me? Do I let it change me? Do I give Him my respect, love, and attention?
- Have I humbled myself before Him in prayer, confessing my faults and asking His forgiveness, as well as asking for grace and strength to overcome my sin? Do I take sin seriously and do my best to avoid it?
- Does the way I live imitate Him? Do my interactions with others reflect the Lord and His love? Do my attitudes reflect what God has shown through Scripture to be His attitudes?
- Have I been ethical in my dealings with others? Have I been honest and acted with integrity?
- Am I trusting God? Or am I continually worried and under stress about things? Have I been committing my worries to the Lord in prayer and believing that He will carry me through them?
- Am I using what the Lord has entrusted to me properly? Is my attitude about money and material things in alignment with Scripture? Have I been generous with others? Am I giving back to God? Am I being a good steward of my material possessions?
- Am I doing all I can to take care of my body, the temple of the Holy Spirit?
- How am I treating others—my wife, children, friends, coworkers, strangers; those of different nationalities, faiths, political beliefs, or people I am in disagreement with? Am I kind? Do I listen? Am I respectful? Do I show love?
- Have I been a faithful witness when the Lord presents the opportunity? Are there ways I could reach out more to those who do not know the Lord or to help others grow in their walk with the Lord?
- If in going over these questions, or through some other means, I realize that I am out of step with the Lord, what am I going to do to remedy it?
- While the few major decisions that I have been faced with in my life have been important and even life-changing, it’s my daily decisions that make me the person I am.
- Who I will be in the days ahead is determined by the thousands of little moments in which I think thoughts, make decisions, interact with others, respond to circumstances, and choose what to do or not do. I’m responsible for who I become day by day.
- Spiritual growth, heart and life change, is always a process, not an instant transformation. It takes commitment, effort, and time. If I desire to grow in my spiritual life, I must make the commitment, put in the effort, and spend the time.
- I have committed to spiritual growth, to living what Scripture teaches, to drawing closer to God. This means I need to be in communion with Him, live according to His Word, be guided by His Spirit, submit myself to Him, and love others; and I am to do these things every single day, moment by moment, in all the little, mundane aspects of life.
Maria and I pray that your year ahead will be filled with joy, progress, and spiritual growth. God bless you!
Happy New Year!