It’s that time of year when we greet one another with the familiar phase, Happy New year.
We all wish for happiness. We want fresh starts and endless blessings. We say, “This is the year!”
It’s true that a new year seems to signify a new start better than any typical day. Yet, every day is a fresh start.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)
“Forget the things that happened in the past. Do not keep thinking on them. I am about to do something new. It is beginning to happen even now. Don’t you see it coming?” Isaiah 43:18 (NIV)
If we want real lasting change there’s one thing we need to do. This one thing will affect every area of our life. Every area? What could it be?
It’s spending a few minutes each day reading your Bible and talking to God. Yes…this one thing will change your life! (I purposely put an exclamation mark.)
I admit that I was nervous to make such a bold statement that sounds a little like a dare. I was troubled to be speak it out of fear someone might say, it will never work. But it WILL work. It is impossible to consistently spend time with God and not see change.
A change in attitude, a change of heart, a change in direction, a change in your strength, a change in your faith, conviction, thankfulness, and even motivation. A change to humility.
Studies reveal that it takes 21 days to start or drop a habit. For the next 21 days make a commitment to spend a few minutes each day talking with God in prayer and reading His Word.
“But I already do”, you say, “And nothing happens.”
No inspiration, no direction.
At the end of your “Bible time” you say a brief prayer…brief, because you’re distracted, not sure if God’s even listening, or not convinced you are worthy to have your prayers answered. You do these things because you’ve heard they’re the “rules” for being a Christian.
You close your Bible satisfied that you’ve completed your legalistic duty but on the inside you feel nothing.
You want more. God seems so distant. Does this sound like you?
I know. I’ve experienced times like that myself.
But change is coming. Change in the way you spend time with God that ultimately has an affect on every other area of your life.
Over the coming weeks, I want to share with you five ways to spend time with God.
Today, is the beginning. Let’s start with five minutes of admitting the world doesn’t revolve around us, and intentionally praise God and give thanks to Him.
Get a journal or a spiral notebook. We will use a journal during our quiet time….because a journal will help us stay focused, raise awareness of God’s direction, and keep us organized. For today, though, we will focus only on praise and thanksgiving.
Why is this so important?
1. Thankfulness moves us into the presence of God. When we come before God with thanksgiving we’re opening the conversation with Him. (Psalm 100:4)
Every parent likes to be thanked for blessing their children. It pleases us to hear our children say thank you. Likewise, it pleases God when we thank Him.
2. Thankfulness brings God glory. (Psalm 50:23)
How? When we acknowledge God’s good works in creation or our personal lives all attention points to Him. He gets to prove to us what He can do. That’s giving God glory.
3. Thanksgiving occurs whether or not our circumstances are good or bad. The truth is we don’t always feel like saying thanks. Some things just don’t feel good. But continue to rejoice in Jesus Christ despite trials and tribulations because this pleases Jesus. (Ephesians 5:20)
4. Thanksgiving and praise is an act of obedience. It’s a sacrifice to praise and give thanks when we don’t feel like it but it’s also an act of obedience. When we focus on the character of God, we are taking the attention off of our circumstances. And God knows this is good for me. The more I give thanks, the more easily I’m able to give thanks for all things… both good and bad. Thanksgiving changes my attitude. Constantly focusing on adversity brings defeat but thanksgiving brings me hope. (Hebrews 13:15)
Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
5. Thankfulness, especially when it’s hard, demonstrates to God that we love Him and trust Him. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
So let’s get started. Open your journal and write the date on the first line. On the next line write what you are thankful for.
- January 6, 2014:
· a flexible schedule
· children are safe
· in this hard situation, You are with me.
· You are my hope
· my friend’s words of encouragement
· a Savior who is trustworthy
- · the new curtains that match so beautifully
· the song bird I just heard outside my window
- You keep Your promises
Do this every day this week. Next week we will focus on something else!
Let us come before Him with Thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.
Psalm 95:2 (NIV)