Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22,23). A Plain and Simple Prayer… Jesus, I woke up today and remembered that You are still on the throne. You are very much alive, still risen and victorious over death. The angels […]
…Think differently…Change your mind… changing your conduct–for the Kingdom of God is at hand…. Let your lives prove your change of heart. (Matthew 3:2,8 AMP)
It was a new season, a new age. A new kingdom had come. John the Baptist got wind of it first, and as a prophet of God, he went around proclaiming the coming Kingdom of God – a kingdom quite unlike the current one that Israel was experiencing. Jesus was about to take His place on the stage of the world, beginning in a tiny region in Palestine.
In keeping with Jewish tradition, John was baptizing the people. It was a ceremony of cleansing which was to prepare them for the new season which was at their doorstep.
There is a new season, a new year, at our doorstep today. How can you prepare yourself for what lies ahead? What changes would you like to see?
John the Baptist laid out a step-by-step process to ready ourselves for a new year, a year of expectation of all of God’s promises, for He has come into our lives to establish His kingdom in us.
John’s message began with the sobering bad news: repent.
Does that remind you of fiery preachers with fire and brimstone smoking from their ears and nostrils? It’s really not! It is a word that means to “Turn.” Turn from all that is not love and faith (i.e. sin) and turn towards the One who is love.
John encourages us to think differently than we are apt to think. In order to do this, we have to change our minds. First, we get born again, so we have a new spirit with the capacity to think like God thinks. Next, we need to sincerely regret our sins. But we do not stop with mere regret; rather, we move forward from regret to repentance – simply telling God how sorry we are for messing up.
Then comes the fun part: changing our conduct. This is where our New Year’s resolutions come in. But in order to find the resolutions that are most important, we need to first follow John’s advice. Here it is in simple form:
- Repent – think differently about your behavior and yourself. Think humbly and with sober self-awareness. Acknowledge your sin.
- Recognize that this behavior is not acceptable nor helpful.
- Ask for forgiveness. God who is rich in mercy, will forgive you.
- Make changes in your conduct through the grace of God and prayer.
- Check up on yourself. “Let your lives prove your change of heart.” Ask those around you: is this working? Am I overcoming my weaknesses (be specific in sharing what they are!).
Make a specific PLAN:
P – PRAY for a strategy to overcome what you want to overcome. For example, if you are a critical person, ask God to help you pray for people and bless them instead of find things to complain about in others.
L – LISTEN to Your Father. He will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. He will help you overcome your weakness because He loves you and adores you!
A – ACKNOWLEDGE small steps of change and victory! Celebrate your new level of self-awareness and that you are becoming a person that is more like Jesus: safe, loving, caring….
N – NEVER go back! Determine to continue to make steps forward and never to return to your old way of thinking and your old way of life.
Then, pray this prayer….
This is a new year. I desire to be more like You, to grow in my love for You and in my capacity to follow Your sweet voice. I want to be a person who is an expert in knowing how to love people.
Pinpoint areas in my life that I need to grow in. Where am I falling short of Your beauty and grace? Give me the gift of self-awareness and the determination that it takes to stay close to You daily in prayer and worship.
Thank You for a new year, a new opportunity to grow in Your love.
Photo by CallMeWhatEver on Foter.com / CC BY