I love the start of a new year. It helps me do a reset in all areas of my life. More exercise, better eating habits, building deeper relationships and being more intentional about my spiritual life. All have a bearing on how my lifestyle is guided and sets a course for the year ahead based on the best things I put into my life.
I have thought about this for a while since my knee replacement surgery and came up with three words that have been helpful for me to focus my spiritual life.
1. Receive from God. Not much can be done to develop a spiritual life without receiving from God. There must be a download from God’s Word in order for anything to grow in you. It becomes easy to read a devotional and allow it to suffice as input from God. Now, I don't want to minimize the quality and content of devotionals, but this is always secondhand information for you. The kind of download I suggest is a reading of His Word, meditation on its meaning, and prayerfully asking God to assist you to incorporate His Word into your life. This process gets you to the source of both God’s Word and God Himself in asking Him for clarity and practice. So, receiving from God must begin with you, God’s Word, and prayer time with God.
2. Surrender to God. As humans, we are strong-willed and determined to do it our way. Christians often fall into the trap of creating a God who serves them … not the other way around. God wants the best for you, but the best will always come at the point of surrendering yourself to Him. If you hold onto anything that could allow you to wander from God, you are not surrendered to Him, and you are settling for second best. Surrendering to God is always His best for you. It is in this state of surrender that you will hear from God, know God’s will for you, and be ready to follow the course of action He has called you to do.
3. Lastly, proclaim. The greatest action item of our Christian lives is to know that our calling is to end up in proclamation. Once we receive from God and we surrender to Him, the next stage is to proclaim. The first two are preparing you for this last stage … to be ready to make a case for Christ. Most of us make little effort to proclaim. We spend a great deal of time in worship, study, fellowship, and prayer but, often, the proclamation is the least of our spiritual practices. Proclamation is simply the witness you have about Christ. Are you convinced He is the Messiah/Savior of the world and the only way, truth, and life that will get you into heaven? If so, why is proclamation difficult? It may be difficult because you still may have some doubt, or perhaps fear of losing reputation, status, or credibility has overtaken your mindset. Yet, when I visit people whose hobbies have overtaken their lives, I hear about that hobby obsession incessantly. Isn't Christ greater than a hobby or greater than any obsession that could capture a human heart? Our mindset needs to change, and a fearlessness needs to find a way into our hearts, that it will no matter who I talk to, it will become my personal obsession to proclaim. I realize that may not be easy for some because of personality profiles, yet the most introverted person can find an introverted way to share Christ. I may not be out front talking to crowds of people, but it may be by putting thought-provoking messages on Facebook or befriending someone with that you share the message of Christ. There are different callings God places on people, but He has called everyone to proclaim.
This New Year is a fresh opportunity to receive from God, to surrender to Him anew, and develop a lifestyle of proclamation.
May God bless this new year with His presence and power in His Name.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler