Sunday, December 28, 2014

What God Wants From Us in 2015, Part 1

After all the merry-making, the indulging, and the celebrating, the new year brings a new start, a new motivation to succeed. Most of us ache for routine after the holidays. We're ready to be productive again, heading into a new year, a new beginning. A milestone awaits us and before we do it all again, we naturally take stock of our lives. Is my current trajectory a good one? What can I improve?

We could focus on how organized our home is, or how many inches around our waist, how many miles we've walked, or how many food additives we will avoid this year, in a quest for perfection.

But these worldly matters? They pass away, as does the time we spend on them. They are not wrong--they're just not first.

What is a surer focus? A more foundational and eternal one? 

What does God want from us in 2015?

To Love Him
To Seek Him
To Serve Him 
To Trust Him

We'll be spending some time on each of these as we head into 2015, starting with Love Him.

How to Love the Lord

Revelation 2:1-4 To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

How do we truly love God, who knows our innermost thoughts and desires, and knows for sure whether we've forsaken him? What does love for God look like and feel like?

To love God is to make him your highest priority. 

Put nothing ahead of him in your heart and mind. Love him “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). We can't love him just on Sundays or just during devotions. He must be our highest priority each day as we get out of bed, go through our do-to list, and interact with others. He is our purpose, our motivation, our strength. 

“Earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25)

We can't have one foot in the world and still love God. Having two masters is prohibited. We are either for God or against him; an absolute commitment to live for God proves essential.

Matthew 12:30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15

To love God is to desire Him. 

To yearn for his Holy Word. To regard the Bible as that favorite novel we can't wait to resume reading. To yearn for quiet time with Him through prayer, journaling, and quiet contemplation. He should consume our thoughts with the same passion our first crush did so many years ago. It should be intense, this desire we have for God.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1).

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34:8

The more time we spend with the Lord, the greater our passion for Him. It's a relationship nurtured by time and attention.

Psalm 19:7-11 
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

To love God is to obey Him.

John 14:23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

John 15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Obeying God is not so much obligation as it is delight. We want to do it. It brings us joy.

Psalm 40:8 I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

How will you love God in 2015? Put him first, desire him, and obey him. Sit down and think about what that will look like for you. What will you do differently? Get a clean journal notebook and write down how you'll love God in 2015.


Anonymous said...

Very good post. Very timely, too. I want to know how to guide my children better. My youngest child has not got a diagnosis, but we suspect ADD or Asperger's or something. She's very bright but very easily led, scatter-brained and so gullible :-/ I'm praying over her and what to do for her and how to 'lead' her to God. She knows her bible quite well and she understands the concepts and has a real desire to learn, but it doesn't seem to affect her behaviour. On the other hand maybe this is because she has some as yet undiagnosed neurological disorder. It's making it really difficult to decide what's best for her future, especially in terms of her education. She is such a little ray of sunshine, though. Always smiling! Always has been, praise God! Her smile helped get me through some dark times.
I'm sure I still get distracted by the world sometimes, although I am far more careful nowadays what I expose myself to and even more what I expose my children to. The world is sometimes so full of (empty) twinkles and sparkles. May we all turn from the futility of such things and towards the filling, overflowing love of God. God is so good, so gracious, so merciful, so gentle, so kind - like the sweet scent of roses in bloom is His presence.
God bless you and all your family in 2015.
Also, if I may ask for a specific prayer request it is this: that we find a place to worship locally as we can't get to our would-be church due to my health but we need something. I would also like prayer for my husband to take more of a leadership role when it comes to God and Christianity. He's so absent-minded. I know he thinks about things deeply but he doesn't seem to comprehend the fact that it is our role as parents to guide the children and to 'demonstrate' God to them...

Christine said...

I will indeed be praying. I think many, many husbands, especially if they didn't grow up with a spiritually-leading dad, need help with this.

I understand what you are saying about her heart versus her behavior. That does seem consistent with some kind of neurological situation. I would pay more attention to what she says about God and her beliefs, more than how she behaves on a daily basis.

You can laugh, but I have some behavior problems myself when the kids make a disaster of the house and walk away from their messes, and I am definitely a growing Christian. That said, there is daily unintentional sinning, and then there is living in sin. I think most Christians fall in the daily unintentional sinning category, more than in the living in sin category. If we could be flies on the wall at pastors and deacons and elder's homes, I'm sure we'd see plenty of daily unintentional sinning there too. None of us can escape it.

I will pray for you re your daughter's situation. It is so hard when there is more than one with neurological issues, and I hope that isn't the case, but if so, God will provide you with much grace and make something wonderful of her life, regardless of her struggles. He works right through our infirmities.

Bless you today, Sandy.

Lisa said...

Thanks for this post, friend.
It pointed me back to the best place to begin a new year - beside my Savior. :)
Praying for you all.