Making 2017 the Best!

wisdom2“Just think, son!” is a line that is used by every parent at one time or another especially during that transition time from child to adult that we call ‘teen age.’ Failure to understand consequences, is a nearly universal trait.  Teens will often take terrible risks, acting on an impulse. The smashed car, fractured limb, or broken heart is evidence of the yet undeveloped frontal lobes of the brain that will eventually make it possible for him to connect cause and effect!  “Just stop and think,” we beg them, not realizing that they are still in development.  Few of us do not have some regrets about things we did on the way through that developmental wilderness.

As we come to the end of another year, might our Father in Heaven be saying to us, “Just think!” as He implores us to choose wisely? How easily we slip into the grasp of our emotions, our appetites, failing to exercise the powers of our thought processes so that we live wisely and honorably. The Psalmist prays “With all my heart I want your blessings. Be merciful as you promised. I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws.” (Psalm 119:58-59, NLT)

Taking some time to evaluate at year’s end is always a beneficial choice. Ask the hard questions about how the way you are using resources of time, money, and health.  Are there places in your life where you are letting yourself slide, making excuses for not getting focused on truly important issues?  Are you  putting off something that needs to be done today?  Where do the things of the Spirit find a place in your day to day activities?  The Proverb tells us to “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8, NIV)

A first step to true wisdom is to give ourselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, inviting Christ Jesus not only to be our Savior, but also to be our King! Surrender is hard. Acknowledging that we need to be guided, accepting that His ways, revealed in the Scripture, are superior to our ways is an ongoing choice.

That must be followed by a choice to ‘keep step with the Spirit’ (Gal. 5:25)  Time spent in contemplative prayer and with the Word is a critical part of knowing His leadership. “Jerry, I just do not have that kind of time,” you may insist. In fact, you do.  It does not require hours. It does demand focus, clarity, and willingness to persist in practice until you learn the skill of hearing His voice.  15 minutes of time with the Lord each morning will most certainly produce the richest results for your life.  A person who learns to experience His Presence will hunger for that time with eager anticipation.  “ As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?” (Psalm 42:1-2, NLT)  Being in the company of other disciples engaged in true worship, in discovery, hearing solid teaching of spiritual truths will always be a priority for mature disciples. The richest practice and experience of Christianity cannot be found outside of Christ’s Body.

One of the pernicious lies of our time is that we are victims of our emotions, desires, and impulses. “I’ll just die if I don’t have that piece of cake,” we say without any sense of silliness.  Many Christians tragically live as slaves to their bodies, unwilling to learn how to say no to indulgence of ‘the flesh’ so that they can say ‘Yes,’ to the Spirit’s call.  An evidence of the mature life of God’s Spirit is self-discipline.  “Just think!”

As we close out this year, tally up the wins and losses of your life.  Be rigorous in evaluating where you need to make the choice to live the best way for the glory of God.

Here is a word from the Word.  Soak your mind in the promise. “Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life.”  (Romans 6:19-22)

______

Father, open my eyes to truth.
Give me courage to face You without excuses.
Help me to think, to take the grace You offer to live a holy life.
Teach me to love the things You love,
To find the Life You desire for me,
To walk faithfully.

Jesus, be my Lord.
Spirit, be my guide.
Amen

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