You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me.
Psalm 139:5 TPT
As we move through the holiday season with all of its fun, distractions, stress and busyness, I don’t always want to think about preparing for 2018. But, knowing God has already gone into my future to prepare the way inspires me to prepare my heart for what he has already planned.
Here are 6 tips that are helping me prepare for an unforgettable 2018.
1. Get Sharp
10 If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength; but wisdom [to sharpen the axe] helps him succeed [with less effort].
Ecclesiastes 10:10 AMP
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
According to one study, only about 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve them. Change can prove hard to produce. It is so much easier for me to talk about change than to actually follow through and be different. The secret to why most New Year’s resolutions don’t come to fruition is because we are not at a point where we are ready to make a change. That is where the above scripture and Abraham Lincoln’s twist on it can help us. Applying the wisdom of the Scriptures will help us sharpen the axe so we don’t just talk but really make changes.
What are you reading in the Bible that is helping you to get sharp spiritually?
Are you having conversations with your spouse and friends that are helping you focus on areas of strengths and weaknesses? Identifying strengths and weaknesses will help you know where you can grow in the new year.
God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares. 24 See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways— the path that brings me back to you.
Psalm 139:23-24 (TPT)
The Scriptures tell us of the value of reflection; stopping all of the busyness of the holidays and taking time to think very carefully about the choices I made and the paths I walked on in 2017. I can want to avoid reflection because it makes me confront the deeper issues in my life and my motives. It is easier to just plow ahead with busy schedules avoiding or denying that there are core issues I must consider. However, spiritual reflection is not to indulge but to learn and grow.
Here are some questions you can use to reflect on the last year:
- How much did I really value my time with God in 2017?
- What parts of my character did I take on and change?
- Did I build engaging, spiritual relationships as a result of transparency and honesty?
- Is my family involved in building something that does good in our community?
Reflection helps me not to indulge negative feelings but to identify where I need to refocus and where I need to learn and grow.
3. Make That Old
To truly know him meant letting go of everything from my past and throwing all my boasting on the garbage heap. It’s all like a pile of manure to me now, so that I may be enriched in the reality of knowing Jesus Christ and embrace him as Lord in all of his greatness.
Philippians 3:8 (TPT)
Paul, maybe more than anyone, understood that grace means we are able to let go of everything from our past. All of the guilt, regret, disappointment, failure, and success is over and gone. A deep belief in grace enabled Paul to constantly start over and therefore innovate. He knew old ways won’t open new doors.
Here is one big question to prepare for a new year: What do I need to let go of?
Have I let go of all sin, guilt, disappointment, bitterness, and regret from last year?
Do I have any old paradigms that are trapping me and keeping me from the growth and breakthrough God has planned for me and my family?
Steph Curry puts it another way. To make 2018 all it can be, we need to make that old.
4. See The Big Picture
I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover.
Philippians 3:12 (TPT)
I get caught up in the busyness of my daily life and forget the big picture. God always has a big picture. Everything he does is working toward his purpose of doing good and leading us and everyone to a closer relationship with him.
How do you see God working through different events last year? Do you have the faith to discover the good God wants you to do for the people around me? How can God use the difficulties, challenges, and obstacles in your life to open doors and create opportunities for others?
5. Tie My Emotions To The Future Not The Past
13 I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this; however I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead.
Philippians 3:13 (TPT)
The older I get the easier it is for me to feel more emotions about my past than about the future. Paul lets us in on one of his secrets to walking closely with God. He focused his heart and emotions more on the future than the past.
What are you looking forward to seeing God do in 2018? Have you prayed to see the vision God has for you and those around you in 2018?
6. Don’t Try To Do It Alone
16 And let us all advance together to reach this victory-prize, following one path with one passion.
Philippians 3:16 (TPT)
Lastly, I can’t just do all of this reflection and keep it to myself. Part of the process to prepare for real change is to talk. For those who are more introverted like me, this can be difficult and we need to make deliberate decisions to share our reflections, our emotions, our insights, and our plans. We can’t face the new year alone. God wants us to advance together.
Set aside time over the next 2 weeks to talk to your spouse, family, and friends about all of the lessons to learn from 2017 and the opportunities that lie ahead in 2018.