January is a strategic month in a believer's life. It is an opportunity to begin again, to renew one's commitment to ministry and to ask God for new vision.
January presents the hope that certain things are able to change in one's life and it offers the confidence that God is able to stir up fresh faith, to give emboldened strength and to repurpose former assignments.
"See, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not be aware of it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert" (Isa. 43:19).
Although the Father is certainly capable of doing the "new" on any day of the year, it seems that we, as His children, are more open to the "new" that He wants to do in January. So, as you approach this new year, with your arms and your heart open wide to His purposes and to His plans, linger over the possibilities that lie before you. Ask God to reveal His strategy to you for the untouched days of 2020.
A new year is inevitably filled to overflowing with potential, with mission and with victories. I believe that as you open yourself to the Father's plans, the following disciplines might present a strategic blueprint to run the race that has been assigned to you in the 11 months remaining of this year.
First of all, determine to become a student of the Bible. Decide early in this year that you will open the sacred pages of the Word of God in a disciplined and orderly fashion on a regular basis.
Your approach to reading the Bible should never be scattered, disorganized or random. Read the Word of God with interest, with enthusiasm and deliberately. You will never regret it.
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Ps. 119:105).
Secondly, set time aside each day for worship. Don't ask God for anything at all during this period of time, but instead spend it in heartfelt gratitude and in passionate thanksgiving. Praise Him for who He is and for what He has done for you. Tell Him why you love Him and give Him the glory that He deserves! You will never regret it.
"My tongue will speak of Your righteousness and of Your praise all the day long" (Ps. 35:28).
The third discipline that will frame the days of 2020 in a powerful and healthy fashion is to spend time each day in prayer. Prayer is a different discipline than worship is; during prayer you tell the Father your concerns and then listen for His answers.
I find that recording my requests, both for myself and on behalf of others, in a prayer journal is the best way to establish this practice in my life. It is vital to incorporate time to listen to the Father's heart when you pray. He might download a strategy for you, or He may give you a Scripture verse or a Word, but He will certainly give you His peace concerning all that concerns you. Prayer is a lovely practice that you will never regret.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with gratitude, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will protect your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7).
And finally, find a mentor in 2020. Find a brother or sister who has humbly and wisely lived a life of faith and of hope. Spend time with this person and listen to their insight and to their advice. Don't demand their time, but humbly ask for an hour every other week or even once a month. It is important to fill our lives with men and women who have suffered well and who have determined that nothing will move them from pursuing passionately all that God has for them. You will never regret having a mentor.
"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who listens to counsel is wise" (Prov. 12:15).
Although January holds no intrinsic power in its 31 swiftly passing days, it does offer a challenge to live more effectively than we did in all of the years prior and to build in the coming year a life of significance and of faithfulness. When you determine that this year you will serve God more passionately than you did in 2019, you will never regret it!
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books: No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, Defiant Joy! and Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming.
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