I know that this blog is a bit late in coming, but I hope that it will be worth the wait for you. At the beginning of each new year, there is always a lot of talk about vision for the future. I would like to take you on a bit of a different road-and offer you the opportunity to see the year ahead from a different perspective.
In thinking about the year behind us and the one ahead, I have three words for you. Build, build, and BUILD!
First and foremost, build your relationship with the Lord. Get in deeper. James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." That puts the onus on us, doesn't it? Let's do some real drawing in this year. The main way to build a relationship with anyone, and particularly with the Lord, is to spend time with them. I'm not telling you how or when or even how much time you should offer the Lord. That's between you and Him. Put it this way, increase where you've been. 1Thess 5:17 says simply, "Pray without ceasing." Constant prayer. Smith Wigglesworth was known to say, "I never spend more than fifteen minutes praying, but I never go more than fifteen minutes without praying." Does this mean we need to be on our knees every fifteen minutes? That would be rather impractical! But we can have a constant awareness of His presence throughout our days...perhaps whispering a quick thank you, or an offering for a passing ambulance, or just acknowledging Him as you drive to work...you get my point here.
But there also needs to be, as in any relationship, times of deeper conversation. Times of enjoying His presence, loving on Him, sharing your heart with Him. Get into the Word of God as well. It's His love letter to you! This is really where relationships grow. Commit to increase your times of intimate fellowship with Him, and see the wondrous places it will take you this year! Oh, and make sure you're not the one doing all the talking. Listen more--talk less!
Second, build the Kingdom of God. Most of us are familiar with Matthew 6:25-34 where Jesus tells us not to worry about how we will be provided for as it is God's business to take care of us. Our business? Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to us...the second chapter of James admonishes us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. Doing what? Loving each other and esteeming one another higher than ourselves, (Phil 2:3) and commiting to knowing nothing of one another but Christ and Him crucified (1Cor 2:2). That's inhouse business. Loving one another so that the world will know that we are His disciples. (John 13:35, John 15:8)
And then there is the Kingdom building business of the Lord's chosen fast as detailed in Isaiah 58:10-11. Let your light shine: loose the bonds of wickedness, undo burdens, feed the hungry, minister to the afflicted, clothe the naked...and as the 61st chapter teaches, the anointing from the Spirit of the Lord is on us not for ourselves but to preach the Gospel, heal the broken-hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, open the prison for the bound, and comfort those who mourn. Jesus Himself commands in Matthew 10:7-8 that His disciples should go, preach, heal, cleanse, raise the dead, cast out demons. As we have received, give! Give freely. If each of us really listens as we build our relationship with Him, He will show us HOW to build the Kingdom of God on the earth. Listen, and then DO. Sometimes the "doing" He asks of us sounds bizarre, strange, embarrassing...not enough time here, but I can tell you many stories of listening and not listening to that still, small voice, and the outcomes of both. Believe me when I tell you, better to listen and obey quickly. The great reward is seeing someone else blessed by our doing.
Lastly, build relationships with others. Family first! Take time from your busy schedule to enjoy each other's company. Spend quality time alone with each member of your family, and spend time together as a family. Commit to learn more about one another and know each other at a new level.
Build relationships with people who can be like a Paul to you...those who can mentor you, and help you to reach those new levels of relationship with the Lord. Build relationships with those who are like Timothy to whom you can be a Paul...people that you can mentor and help to a higher height in the Lord. And build relationships with those with whom you may be on the same plain...who can walk with you on the journey higher. And again, relationships are built on spending time. It's a sacrifice, but well worth it! Just be wary, especially in these types of relationships, of familiarity. Remember that there are things that you should share only with the Lord, other things that belong in the family alone, and those things that you can freely share with a Paul that you may not want to share with a Timothy.
So in 2009, let's focus on building! By the end of the year, we will have laid a firm, strong foundation for the rest of our lives, and we will have affected the world around us for the Kingdom of God.