Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Looking Toward a New Year

With the increasing violence in our country as exemplified by the Sandy Hook massacre last week, people are afraid.  The fiscal cliff and Obama Care uncertainties add to the apprehensions.  Add in family crises, employment difficulties, natural disasters, and rumors of wars, and it can feel hopeless.

I'm not trying to be a downer.  It is just that I am praying that it is apparent to everyone that time is short.  It is time to act wisely and not allow another year go by where we play with our faith while having faith in our play.  Ephesians 4 says it best:

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

So here are a few suggestions for living wisely in 2013:

1.  Work hard at getting out of debt.
      Proverbs 22:7  The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
      Romans 13:8  Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

Average credit card debt in America, only counting those who have debt, is $15,418.  If every home is included it is $7193.  It is tempting when things get tough to use credit.  But that puts us into greater slavery.  Start with your smallest debt, pay it off, and then add the payment for that to the payments made to your next highest until all your debt is gone.  It will set you free.

2.  Use your time wisely.
1 Corinthians 7: 29-31  What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

Most of us are too busy.  The apostle is not wanting us to ignore our spouses or not mourn when appropriate.  He is simply saying "FOCUS."  We must give more time to less things and less time to more things.  Use your time to do the most important things and don't fall into the trap of thinking you must constantly keep busy.  In fact, failing to take a sabbath to rest and refocus violates God's plan for us.

3.  Teach your family.
Colossians 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Psalm 78:6,7  He decreed statutes for Jacob
    and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our forefathers
    to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
    even the children yet to be born,
    and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
    and would not forget his deeds
    but would keep his commands.

God established marriage for our holiness, not just our happiness.  He also created the family to be the school of theology where children learn from their parents.  It is time to quit making excuses and do the work of living out faith at home.  Read the Bible and teach it to each other.  Talk about it each day at home.  You teach your children about faith by modeling a God-honoring life for them.  Set an atmosphere at home of encouraging each other in our pursuit of Jesus and of giving thanks and praise to Him.  Whose responsibility is this?  Everyone's responsibility.

4.  Live a life of love.
Ephesians 5:1, 2  Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Too much time is wasted with anger, hate, selfishness, self-pity and bitterness.  People who love imitate God.  They sacrifice for others.  They offer themselves up in service for the Lord, whatever that means.  So let's set our sights on thinking about and carrying out ways we can love more each day.  That will keep us away from the things that would hinder and hurt us.

This is not an exhaustive list but I believe are some key practices that will make 2013 a fruitful year in helping us be more like Jesus.  That is called being holy.  And as the Scriptures say:

1 Thessalonians 4:7  For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

Have a Blessed and Holy New Year

No comments:

Post a Comment