Monday, January 4, 2016

3 Essential Steps to Make 2016 an Awesome Year

There is one New Year's resolution that is always especially good (and at ANY time of the year). That resolution is to spend more time with God. Even if you just start small, it can have a bigger impact than you could have imagined! I've found this to be true with the Beth Moore "Breaking Free Day by Day" devotional that I've started. I was expecting the devotionals to be longer reads, but I'm finding that the verse with a short paragraph can be all you need to springboard you into more!

Today was a perfect example of how my heart was so blessed that it spurred me to read more. Then, I started putting what was on my heart into a Facebook status and discovered that it was more suited for a blog. What I've found in Isaiah 33 today are three really great tips for getting 2016 started off right! It begins with the verse featured in today's devotional that first inspired me:

1. Have the right foundation! He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. - Isaiah 33:6.

If there's one thing that's an absolute "must have", it's the right foundation! You can't build a house, a life, or ANYTHING without it! You have absolutely no stability or reliability if the foundation isn't solid, strong, and well established. I'll tell you one thing, Christ is my firm foundation and "on Christ the solid rock I stand! All other ground is sinking sand". I can hear my Grandmother's singing voice in my head as I remember that hymn; which further makes me remember how long my foundation has been there. My parents laid it for me because my grandparents and great-grandparents laid it for them as well. It's a rich legacy of faith that has been passed down because I come from a family who has a fear of the Lord. Therefore, we have "the key to this treasure" which is the Kingdom of God. The rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge have never been in short supply in our lives! It has nourished and sustained my family for generations! I am incredibly blessed to have this foundation; and to pass it down to our children as well. Sadly, I know that not everyone has had this same experience. The good news is, it's not too late to start rebuilding! If you have a crumbling foundation, or no foundation at all, start building on The Rock (no, not Dwayne Johnson; I'm talking about Jesus!). Get plugged in with a great church in your community. If you don't know where to start, leave a comment or contact me and I'll help you get started wherever you are! You aren't meant to be a loner; get connected with other believers to help build you up so you can start growing in your faith (Ephesians 4:29, Hebrews 10:25).

2. Pray! Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. - Isaiah 33:2.

When I read that verse, I could feel the intense depth of that earnest plea! I think I will put this on the fridge so I can see it and recite it in the morning. To me, it communicates the strong desire to be close to the Lord as well as the hope that He will hear us and pour out His Spirit and blessings. It speaks of the need to be filled with His supernatural strength and to save us not just in the eternal sense, but in the every day sense. This verse feels very powerful to me because I know that God hears a heartfelt prayer like this. I know it is His joy to answer by providing the fruit of His Spirit in abundance! I believe that Beth Moore mentioned in another study that the fruit of the Spirit doesn't just change our lives, it changes our day! Yes, all of us who yearn for immediate gratification, the Spirit of the Lord is for NOW! It's not a distant hope or promise; it's NOW! Take hold of it through prayer! That relationship with the Father is for EVERY DAY; not "someday" when we go to heaven. "Ask and it will be give to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." - Matthew 7:7.

3. Discover Him in His Word.
For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us. - Isaiah 33:22.

This verse makes a point of reminding us about how multi-faceted our God is! It's hard to take it all in sometimes, but as we read His Word, we learn more about the character of God and who He is. He is our King, our judge, the lawgiver; and we are the sinners that constantly break his laws. However, He is ALSO the one who SAVES us! Does anyone else find that amazing? It's almost difficult to comprehend, but it makes sense when you remember that He is our Father. A loving parent, even though he disciplines his child, works to restore and strengthen fellowship again even after the child has done wrong and broken the rules that are there for his benefit. I am thankful that God has allowed me to experience this as a mother because it helps me understand how He is with me as my Father. I will always be His child. No matter what I've done wrong, He restores and forgives me; always working to restore fellowship and intimacy with Him again. He rescues and spares us ALL from His own judgement because of the blood of His own Son who took our place! He is a good, GOOD Father; it's who He is (yes, that's a worship!).  

The more I've discovered and read about the heart of God in the Bible, the more that I understand! That understanding has been more valuable in my life than anything because every truth I meditate on and absorb enriches my life in ways that nothing else can! His Word is the bread of life that always satisfies (John 6:35) and Christ gives us the living water that never runs dry and always quenches us (John 7:38). In Him, our soul's deepest longing is met! In fact, Beth Moore mentioned that in the previous devotional. She pointed out the simple fact that when we're hungry or thirsty, we eat and drink to satisfy/quench it. We need to take the same cue when we sense our soul is empty: "The most obvious symptom of a soul in need of God's satisfaction is a sense of inner emptiness--the awareness of a 'hollow place' somewhere deep inside--the inability to be satisfied. Let this longing drive you to your Savior." 

Grace and peace to you, my friends! I hope that this will be a blessed year for everyone! May we all discover God in fresh new ways which will deepen our faith! God bless you n the new year (and always)!