Author Donald S. Whitney did a guest blog post on crossway.org in which he listed ten questions to ponder in the new year:
The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.
- What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
- What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
- What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
- In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
- What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
- What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
- For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
- What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
- What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
- What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?
I had good answers to some of these questions, and others seemed too lofty for me to even contemplate! So I came up with some questions and resolutions of my own as they relate to my own struggles:
- How can I be in the Word of God more consistently this year? (I am resolved to do a read-through-the-Bible-program and really stick with it this year!)
- I want my times with the Lord to be more fruitful: how can I listen to His voice more and pursue Him better?
- How can I be more aware of my own sin? (I can ask Him consistently and regularly to examine my motives and reveal sin to me that I’m avoiding or hiding)
- I want to love better, show more grace to others and be more disciplined in controlling my thoughts.
- My desire is to grow in prayer, increase in faith and be a life-giving, refreshing spring to others.
I read these and I feel discouraged. How can these things take place? How is any change possible? Ephesians 3:16 says:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.
So from Christ’s immense riches – He has been given all authority over heaven and earth, including its wisdom, wealth and power – He will strengthen me with power in my inner being. My soul and spirit and body will have strength through His power, not mine. The ability to change and grow and learn and act in a godly manner will come through HIS strength. And all of this is accomplished because of the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit which is alive and active in every believer is working in me, today. And will be working in me tomorrow. And because of Him I can have the hope of godliness, of acting correctly when others are acting wrongly; In responding to insults with kindness, in thinking rightly when others are selfish.
This is so encouraging to me and I hope to you too! He will strengthen us with power and we will be changed. Because that is God’s will for us.
I Thessalonians 4:3a tells us “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified.“
And if it’s His will, He will do the work that is needed. We must ask Him to shine the light on anything that is displeasing and to remove it from our hearts. One definition of “sanctify” is to purify and cleanse from sin. We know forgiveness is offered because of the blood that Jesus shed on our behalf.
So, Lord, please do your work in me this year. Through Your power would you cleanse me and strengthen me through Your Holy Spirit.