“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” II Corinthians 13:5
2016 was witness to some big moments in our family which included Reed and Brighton getting married and moving to Nashville, Cole graduating high school, Mia getting to ditch her headgear permanently and all of us filming our last and final episode of Duck Dynasty. Some of these instances may seem wonderful while others seem, well, not-so-wonderful. It’s all about perspective. Unlike 2015, this past year did NOT include any surgeries or major physical ailments, of which I continue to be grateful! Every year is filled with good and bad situations, and each January 1st we have the opportunity to look back over the last year and evaluate our lives. In fact, Paul recommended the people of Corinth do just that in the title scripture.
Over my 45 years of life on earth, I’ve learned that my life on earth isn’t about my life on earth. Did I lose you? Here’s what I mean: God did not put me on this earth to live for myself or please myself. I can’t find anywhere in the Scriptures where God says He wants me to be happy. Paul says we should have “joy”, but true joy is how you live within your circumstances, not your circumstances themselves. Paul should know better than anyone, as he wrote this theme multiple times from his prison cell while he was singing songs of praise to God.
In today’s world, especially in light of social media, we find ourselves comparing our lives to the lives in simple Instagram posts. When we look at perfect people with perfect complexions and perfect bodies with perfect outfits and perfect husbands and children, we can immediately feel inadequate. Our brains instantly compare ourselves to that person (whether we admit it or not), and the devil is loving it! Those people look happy, and it’s only fair that I am as happy as they are. Of course we can’t live up to that (especially with all the filters available now). So why do we keep doing it?
In the 26 years that Jase and I have been married, we can honestly say that we have tried to make life-decisions based on spiritual reasons and not financial reasons. in other words, we would ask ourselves, “is this how we can best serve God, grow spiritually in our personal life and show our children that we are putting God first?” This pertained to which school our children attended, which house to live in and which jobs to take. Even when we thought it would be the best thing for our family, sometimes God would say no. And we had to trust that He had the right answer. However, it’s those little day-to-day decisions that creep up on us and cause us to lose focus and become discouraged or negative, even for a short time.
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” II Corinthians 4:6
Notice Paul didn’t say “year by year”. Thank goodness! What if we messed up and then had to wait until the New Year came around to start over? Because of Jesus’ blood that covers us 24/7, we can actually be renewed every minute of every day, if we have chosen to put Jesus on as our Lord!
Proverbs 3:5-10 is a great "New Year's Resolution" verse:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”
Let’s break it down:
Trusting God with ALL your heart: sometimes it doesn’t make sense to our brain when God is pushing us in a certain direction. When Mia was born with an unforeseen cleft lip and cleft palate, my brain took a long time in catching up with my heart. I knew in my head that this wasn’t supposed to happen, that we didn’t have this in our genetic history, that there was no reason for my baby to have to live like this. But my heart kept telling me that my Father had her. My heart knew that He would never leave Mia or me—ever. I had to trust Him with all my heart, even though I did not understand why. And 13 years, 8 surgeries, multiple procedures and thousands of dollars (much debt in the early years) later, that same little baby is now speaking and singing of the blessings of her Savior. Our family acknowledges Him for all of those blessings.
Wise in our own eyes: don’t you wish you were right about everything? Do you know someone who always is? Is it you? Ha! Most of that is pride. We don’t want anyone telling us what we don’t want to hear, so we just don’t ask. Is there a big decision coming up in your life? Pray; then ask someone older or wiser in the Faith what their opinion is. Sometimes we don’t ask because we don’t want someone to disagree with us. Forgiveness is easier than permission, right? At the time, yes. But it usually damages a relationship, no matter how you justify your motives. Sure, you get what you want at the time, but at the expense of something greater. The pride grows even bigger as you can’t bring yourself to ask for that forgiveness but you expect it unequivocally. Wisdom comes from humility, having an open mind to listen to all reasons and lots of prayer. Not prayng that God will give you want you want, but praying that God will do what needs to be done to glorify Him and Him alone. That’s a tough one.
And this brings health to our bodies! Less stress, less anxiety, clearer head, positive outlook. Those attributes alone can be a healthier lifestyle.
Honor the Lord with my money: I’m a simple and practical person. If we didn’t have the income coming in, we didn’t spend it. That meant no credit cards when I didn’t have it in the bank. Jase and I have always budgeted 10% of our income to tithing. It used to all go to our local congregation, but these days we have been blessed to add many charitable groups to our list, and we seek out those who honor God as their Lord. With or without extra money in our household, we were blessed and taken care of, never needing for anything.
I’ve decided to make this above-scripture my personal scripture for the year 2017. It includes a plan to stay fit and healthy, a plan for financial success and, best of all, tells me how to keep on the right path to Him. The things in these verses are practical, spiritual goals for my family and for myself.
Will you join me? Choose a scripture that you would like to strive for this year. Share with me in the comments which scripture you chose. Pray about it each day. Set your alarm to remind you to pray for God’s help in the strength and humility you need to follow through and attain the goal, always looking ahead to Jesus at the forefront. And if you falter, actually when you falter, don’t give up. Keep striving! Tomorrow is a brand new day!
Here’s to a blessed 2017!