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New Year Challenge

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What do you think God’s will is for you?  Do you think He wants your mind so saturated with worries and anxieties that you can’t think spiritual thoughts?  Do you think He wants your calendar so crowded that you don’t have time for the important things?  What do you think God’s will is for you?  Let me make a couple of suggestions for you to consider.

First of all, I believe that He wants you to establish your priorities. When you begin to establish priorities, you have to decide just where God actually stands in your life. So ask yourself, "Who or what is most important in my life?" I am praying that your answer will be -- "My relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, is most important to me."  If that is how you feel, I challenge you to put that at the top of your list of priorities, and say, "This will affect my decisions, my scheduling, my relationship with others, and my whole outlook on life."

Secondly, schedule some definite time each day for prayer AND to read His Word.  Pray for yourself & for your family & for people around you.  Pray for your church, & for your pastor, your elders, your SS teachers, etc.  You’ll never know how much your prayers will mean to them. And you’ll be blessed as you grow in your faith and trust in the Lord! Might I be so bold as to suggest, “You love God as much as you PRAY!”

Thirdly, spend time with your family.  Husbands have a date night with your wife.  I’m serious.  You ought to have a date night with your wife, a time when just the two of you get away and don’t have anything else to interfere with your time together.  No cell phones, no iPads, no interruptions – just talk to each other. This could happen in  a nice restaurant, or maybe at home.  Wherever it is, spend some time together. Spend time with your children, too.  They’re growing up ever so fast. 

These are precious moments.  Please make sure you spend quality time with your children.  

Make sure that your family is very high on the list.  I remember a Sunday night watching our son James play hockey – my tired body said that a cold arena was not the place to be on a Sunday night; but my love for my son said I wouldn’t want to be any other place.

And fourthly, this is about you at work.  Beloved, Christians ought to be good workers.  When someone hires a Christian they ought to know they’re getting someone who will give them an honest day’s work, and not cheat them.  Because we’re Christians we have a responsibility to the Lord to honor Him even in the marketplace.

So, first of all, establish your priorities.  And then, learn how to live each day.  The two greatest enemies of time are regrets for things we did in the past, and anxiety about what will happen to us in the future.  Many of us are living either in the past or in the future. 

I once heard a story about a girl who went to college and she just hated it. But she told herself, "If I can ever get out of college & get married & have children, I know I’ll finally be able to enjoy life." So she stuck with it. She went to classes every day and finally graduated from college. Then she got married and had children, and discovered that children are a lot of work. So she told herself, "If I can just get these kids raised, then I’ll be able to relax & really enjoy life." But about the time the kids were entering high school her husband said, "Guess what?  We don’t have enough money to send our kids to college.  I guess you’ll have to get a job." Well, she didn’t want to, but she knew he was right and they needed the money, so she went to work.  And she hated it.  But she told herself, "If I can just get these kids out of college, and get all of the bills paid, then I can quit work & really enjoy life."

Finally, the last child graduated from college, & all the bills were paid.  So she walked into her employer’s office & said, "I quit." He said, "Oh, you don’t want to quit now.  If you stay with us just another 8 years you’ll have a pension for the rest of your life." She thought, "Well, I don’t want to work another 8 years, but there’s all that money there, and I really can’t turn down the opportunity."  So she worked for another 8 years.  Finally, she and her husband retired at the same time.  They sold their home & bought a little retirement cottage. Then they sat down on the swing on their front porch and looked at the family picture album and dreamed about the good old days. RIGHT! – THE GOOD OLD DAYS THEY HAD MISSED SO MUCH OF!

Someone said, "Life is what happens to you while you’re making plans to do something else." True, isn’t it?  Another year has come & gone.  A new year stretches before us.  Help us Lord, to redeem the time.  

My prayer for you is that during the New Year you will have enough happiness to keep you sweet - enough trials to keep you strong - enough sorrow to keep you human - enough hope to keep you happy - enough failure to keep you humble - enough success to keep you eager - enough friends to give you comfort - enough wealth to meet your needs - enough enthusiasm to make you look forward to tomorrow - & enough determination to make each day better than the day before.

May God help us to use the hours we have left of this year the wisest way we can for Him and for His glory. Romans 13:11-12 NLT says, "Another reason for right living is that you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here.  So don’t live in darkness.  Get rid of your evil deeds. Shed them like dirty clothes. Clothe yourselves with armor of right living, as those who live in the light."

May this be your theme for 2014, “Living in His Presence.”